A new report suggests that advisors who aren't running their businesses virtually are dropping the ball when it comes to client expectations.
Advisors resisting running their businesses virtually, need to get over it and get with the times, says one advisor, who specializes in servicing generation Y (those born in the 1980s to early 2000s).
“It’s such an attitude problem,” said Sophia Bera of Gen Y Planning, based out of Minnesota. “They (advisors) are going to lose clients ... if they are not accessible, if they are not relatable and if they don’t understand the world in which their clients are living.”
According to a report, Connecting with Clients, researched by Beddoes Institute for Zurich and the Association of Financial Advisers (AFA) in Australia, advisors are dropping the ball with digital and social media communications relative to client preferences, and across all generations.
“We’ve already been talking to advisors about how in 2014 more online activity will be done through a mobile device than through a traditional desktop,” said Richard Dunkerley, head of marketing for life and investments business at Zurich.
“If you’re an advisor, you need to make sure you’re visible and your online content is engaging, but also optimized for new technology. People don’t like pinching and zooming.”
Zurich’s own research revealed that less than a quarter of financial advisors have a truly optimized website, despite the fact that 60 per cent had reviewed their website in the past 12 months.
But Dunkerley suspects that even this figure is an overstatement, due to an assumption that if you can view your website on a mobile, it must be mobile optimized. (continued.)
“I have had a quick scan amongst some more tech savvy advisors and I couldn’t find one with a true mobile-optimized site,” he said.
For Bera, who runs her business through her mobile phone, having her website mobile optimized is a given. Not only does she schedule online meetings with most of her clients, but she more often than not responds to texts and emails as they are received, rather than picking up the phone.
“(Mobile accessibility) is something that a lot of advisors aren’t even thinking about,” she says. “Those types of things I think are really important, especially for the younger generation.”
Furthermore, Dunkerley points to statements made by the chief executive of Yahoo, Marissa Mayer, that 2014 will be the tipping point for mobile traffic.
"When you look at (the) mobile, when you look at the bandwidth, when you look at the Internet of things, it's going to change everyone's daily routines really fundamentally,” Mayer said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “By the end of this year, (Yahoo) will have more mobile traffic than PC traffic."
Part-and-parcel of the trend of mobile browsing is the explosion of applications, or “apps” - software applications designed to run on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. The Connecting with Clients report demonstrates that apps are the biggest gap – and therefore the biggest opportunity – between current and preferred digital and social media communication channels for clients, particularly with generation Y.
Dunkerley said the research should get advisors thinking about new and innovative ways to connect with clients – perhaps by creating their own app, which can cost almost nothing to create. “There’s a tendency to think anything IT related can cost (a fortune), but it doesn’t have to,” he said.
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