Over the last few years, we have seen a substantial rise in the number of cybersecurity breaches across the nation, from prominent high-profile companies to government departments. With more Australians now engaging in online activities than ever before, particularly in the areas of banking and ecommerce, we must look at how we can safeguard their privacy and information, whilst also improving efficiency and the overall user experience.
The growing appetite for financial services and related wealth advice over the internet is expected to expand the use of digital platforms in the coming years, making an adviser’s online portal the key to future business success. Portals will need to offer more holistic wealth planning, be integrated into the broader financial ecosystem and offer access to more services like estate and trust planning.
There are many advantages for both clients and advisers in using a client portal. Here are our top five.
1. Sharing information securely
A key advantage of a client portal has always been the ability to share information with clients in a secure format. Documents can be shared, signed and submitted within the portal without the expense or time required to print, post and return paperwork, speeding up administration processes and reducing your servicing costs.
Portals also enhance the client experience, providing access to their data in real-time, so clients can see how their finances are performing whenever they choose, rather than calling you for an update or waiting for a face-to-face meeting. This creates a practical solution that is far more secure than email by adding an extra layer of protection to the information shared. Infact, 91% of all cybercrime in Australia starts with an email and a secure client portal can alleviate this risk.
You can also use the portal to issue targeted information to individuals or groups around important events, like market volatility or regulatory updates. This helps demonstrate your expertise and provides reassurance to clients at times of uncertainty. At intelliflo, we now have over 369,000 clients using our personal finance portal (pfp), which is the equivalent of one in every 150 UK adults.
2. Delivering a multichannel experience
Client portals can also meet growing customer expectations for an interactive digital experience alongside traditional face-to-face and telephone advice. This can also be customised to provide a consistent look and feel with the rest of your brand.
Co-browsing functionality is another function that lets advisers meet clients virtually and communicate via text, chat, audio or video in a secure online environment. As the use of digital programs continues to increase, the way we engage with older internet users will be a focal point for financial advisers. The number of internet users over 55 undertaking legal, financial or other professional consultations currently exceeds the number aged 18 to 54. This greater acceptance of digital tools and communication is driving expectations of a multichannel experience from service providers across all industries.
3. Supporting regulatory compliance
Using a client portal can play an important role in meeting compliance and regulatory demands, including the requirements imposed by the Corporations Act 2001, which imposes a single licensing regime for financial sales, advice and dealings in relation to financial products. There is also the Privacy and Confidentiality Act 1988, which needs to be complied with as it seeks to promote and protect individual privacy and confidentiality.
Fortunately, complaints about financial advisers are not a major issue in Australia, yet it has increased over the past one to two years. The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) noted a 121% increase in investment and advice complaints between December 2021 and December 2022. It also stated that the most common issues in this space were failure to follow instructions/agreement, service quality and failure to act in client’s best interest. We strongly believe that utilising client portals can alleviate these issues to a significant extent through better consultation and engagement.
More recently, intelliflo has welcomed the Quality of Advice Review in Australia which aims to improve the accessibility and affordability of quality financial advice. Alongside the findings, we see this review as playing a pivotal role in increasing the need and value of digital advice and remain committed to ensuring that Australians have access to digital advice solutions.
4. Providing a holistic view of the client’s finances
With Open Banking, which was officially launched in Australia in July of 2020, clients have the option to link their bank accounts, credit cards and mortgages to an adviser’s portal, creating a complete view of their personal finances in one place.
This can help save time at the start of the relationship by pulling bank account information through to the fact-find to auto-populate the income and expenditure data and support preparation for client meetings. The system updates quickly, giving easy access to accurate cash flow and product information. Aggregating data on the client’s short-term cash flow and non-advised products alongside the advised portfolio gives a wider perspective on their overall financial position.