Why the tech stack is key to advisor and client satisfaction

After locking down some big clients, CapIntel CEO offers insights into why the tech a firm uses can become the most tangible part of their experience

Why the tech stack is key to advisor and client satisfaction

James Rockwood believes that the technology an advisory firm invests in represents one of the most tangible aspects of their business in the eyes of a client. While the tangibility of a digital platform may seem counterintuitive, his point is that these platforms are the means by which a client will interact with their portfolio and their plan. Ensuring those means are easy to access and pleasing to work with can be key to the satisfaction of a client and the satisfaction of an advisor.

Rockwood is the founder and CEO of wealthech firm CapIntel. His company recently announced two major contracts, the first is an extension of their existing work with IG Wealth Management which now includes work with the wider IGM parent company. The second is a new deal with Desjardins. On the back of these two landmark announcements Rockwood spoke to WP about why he sees these firms investing in wealthtech and why he thinks the tech stack is so crucial for client satisfaction and advisor retention.

“When you think about investment products and even the advice provided that’s intangible,” Rockwood says. “Technology is the interface through which services are delivered. How you explain financial advice, how you explain financial products, that's going to be facilitated or hindered by a tech stack. We’ve heard a lot of frustration from advisors who can’t easily talk about a product because the technology they have simply isn’t able to give people up to date information. You can imagine how that might hinder somebody’s ability to engage with a client in a really meaningful dialogue.”

Rockwood says that firms like Desjardins and IGM are turning to tech providers like CapIntel to ensure that the tangible side of a client’s experience allows advisors to have the most fulsome and in-depth conversations possible. Put simply, he sees tech investments as part of modern firms’ attraction and retention strategy. As more firms look to grow by bringing over established advisors from other firms, that tech stack can be a major differentiator.

The trouble with technology is that clients may not be able to differentiate the infrastructure required to build a platform as intuitive and easy to use as, say, Netflix from a wealth tech platform built in house by a financial firm. One is a multi-billion dollar tech company and the other is a small technological arm of a finance business. Yet clients expect seamlessness and ease of use. As more tech companies use AI to further personalize their service offerings, Rockwood says the bar of client expectation will only rise.

Because no firm has an infinite tech budget, Rockwood says the solution has to be twofold. First, by identifying and integrating best in class solutions, a firm can bring their tech stack up to the par of expectation. Second, by identifying and implementing specific points of differentiation, a firm can set themselves apart. There are areas of the industry where Rockwood sees tech improvement making a minimal impact, and others where he sees major impact. He says that firms who want to improve their tech offerings should look at those areas where an investment can best align with the firm’s overall value proposition.

Where Rockwood says his firm helped IG differentiate themselves is in the preparation of personalized presentations for prospective clients. Those presentations, which are well designed, easy to understand, and easy for advisors to use, have won Rockwood and CapIntel the continued business of IG.

The relationship with IG began in 2021 and in the years since that work began, Rockwood says his own firm has learned a great deal about how to work with a larger integrated enterprise. He and his team have navigated the process of reengagement and collaboration to make the tools better for everyone involved. The success of that collaboration, Rockwood says, is some of what brought about their recent deal with Desjardins.

Even as his own firm signs big contracts and takes on enterprise clients, Rockwood says his focus is on the advisor experience. He regularly hears about the pain points advisors encounter with their tech stack and maintains that without an appropriate investment in technology, those pain points will drive advisors away from firms.

“I was talking with one advisor who just started at a new firm who says he can’t explain product easily to the customer because it takes an internal team five to seven business days to come back to him with information. He’s a perfect example of what advisors should be asking for. This is incredibly critical to the client experience,” Rockwood says. “Financial needs are evolving and new products are coming to market all the time. But what it comes down to is how do you advance the investor’s experience, because that’s the thing that’s actually changing faster than any amount of product that could come to market.”