The case for digital client review

Tech firm's head of North America explains how wealth management platform has become essential for advisors

The case for digital client review

Appway connects disconnected processes, systems and people. The software platform is built to unify the disparate ends of the financial services industry in a central hub, constructing virtual roads between client service, compliance, and back office operations duties. One of those roads has come up big for Canadian financial advisors during this pandemic.

Appway’s platform for advisors features a digital client review functionality. Using Appway, advisors have been able to contact their clients remotely, re-assess their suitability and risk tolerance during the market’s downturn, share information about asset allocation and portfolio performance, and transfer that information securely, ready to pull up at their next client meeting. WP asked Andrew Besheer, Appway’s head of North America, how important that functionality has become for advisors.

“I would say someplace between huge and tsunami,” Besheer says. “The financial services industry was never designed to function 100% remotely 100% of the time. In order for the bulk of people who are working remotely to function effectively, and in order for the relationships with the clients to continue right now, the industry has to change in ways it never has before.”

For Appway, that’s meant acceleration. Its user base of advisors is quickly expanding, and the users it already had are moving the platform from a nice-to-have to a must-have in their thinking and practice management.

Besheer admits that his team didn’t have a pandemic in mind when they integrated digital client review into their platform. He and his team did believe in the coming digital transformation for the industry. As with so many other tech solution providers, a slow shift to increasing remote work and fully digital client service was what they predicted.

“We've recently become vocal proponents of remote work because we've all got to do it,” Besheer says. “But the whole raison d’ être for Appway was to be able to digitize processes that were historically rooted in the physical world that required paper and wet signatures, in taking things that had to be handled sequentially and making them happen instantaneously.”

Outside of the utility these digital processes are proving in current circumstances, Besheer says the value of Appway’s solution comes from both limiting errors and, when errors do occur, making sure they are rectified quickly without creating a 30-day delay in client service.

Appway, which originated in Switzerland, has been built to fit different national and jurisdictional regulations. The platform is easily adaptable, set to meet global standards while accommodating regional particularities. The goal, Besheer says, is to meet a high standard of client service while saving advisors, and their clients, time.

In an ordinary world, client reviews will be scheduled automatically by the platform and the relevant files will be automatically pulled up ahead of the meeting. After the meeting, Appway drops the updated files in your internal storage system to pull them up again the next time a client review is needed.

The end goal for advisors, Besheer says, is scalability. He says that while Appway has shown its value in the short term, facilitating client service despite the pandemic, it will prove greater value in the long term as advisors use it to streamline day-to-day processes and scale up their client service.

“Advisors need to be able to service their clients with the same kind of scalability and efficiency and repeatability that they are leveraging in asset allocation, in financial planning, and in goal setting,” Besheer says. “If you've put that scalability and capacity into your planning and asset allocation capabilities but you can't ensure that you're interacting with clients at appropriate intervals, then the scale of your planning and asset allocation is for nothing. To be a successful advisor today, your scale has to be end-to-end.”