I read an article recently on the BBC website about banks closing over 600 branches over the past year due to more consumers favouring online banking. In the article a spokesperson for HSBC quoted
The way we bank is changing very quickly, and with an increase in the use of online and telephone banking over the past few years, use of branches has fallen significantly.
This article got me thinking about how I engage with big brands and I can honestly say I generally ‘go online’ for practically everything nowadays, not just to buy, but to research ‘best prices’ or for information on products. I’m not saying I don’t shop in high streets, but for large purchases especially I will still check reviews online and shop around to find the best deal.
As someone who works within the financial services industry, I observe a wide range of attitudes towards online engagement amongst IFAs (independent financial advisers). For me, going online to research and buy is a natural thing as it is for consumers of all sorts of products nowadays and I truly believe this gives IFAs a fantastic opportunity to move with the times. From developing their digital footprint, including making themselves easier to find online, offering a better website user experience, and going ‘social’ with their own businesses, through to offering their clients an ‘online’ service, IFAs can capitalise on this growing trend. Needless to say, many of their clients will still want a very personal/traditional service, but increasingly they will want this alongside convenient digital service options such as secure messaging and getting a valuation of their financial products - and they’ll expect it on their mobile phone or tablet too. Many clients, particularly the younger generation of investors, the ‘wealth in waiting’ will want a lighter touch approach too and automated advice options could be very appealing to them. Clearly looking at the article on the BBC, there is an appetite for more digital engagement. We are seeing this at the banks, so why aren’t more financial advisory firms taking advantage of this trend?
Obviously financial advisory firms need access to technology that helps expand their proposition without increasing their administrative burden and most-importantly, allow them to deliver an online service in a cost-effective way, both for the client and their own business. The technology will need to be easy to use/understand from a consumer perspective too. There are more technology providers offering ‘digital advice’ platforms and with robo-advice making its way across the pond, I’m convinced that financial advice firms are uniquely positioned to offering a whole new range of clients an automated alternative to traditional face-to-face advice through the use of smart technology.
At the end of the day going ‘digital’ will help advisers keep their clients happy as well as opening up new business channels and maybe even beating the banks at their own game! What’s not to like?
I’d love to hear your thoughts around the ‘digital revolution’, and any feedback on my first blog would be most welcome.