Pandemic puts investors in the technology driver's seat.
Whew! That change happened fast and all because of a global pandemic. The familiar in-person meetings you and your financial professional once held to review your investments and financial plan suddenly vanished. Your mode of communication immediately morphed into video conferences with a technology (Zoom) you had likely never heard of before the COVID outbreak.
Few would dispute how rapidly a stay-at-home population embraced new technologies to shop, communicate and hold onto a piece of social normality. However, what may surprise you is the rate of acceleration in tech adoption among people of all ages and the likelihood that this trend could forever change the way investors and financial professionals interact. Especially for older investors, once deemed digital dinosaurs, COVID has inspired them to catch up on technology, and there appears to be no looking back.
Recently, Jackson and social research firm, Advanis conducted a new study designed to explore pandemic-based digital disruption in financial services from financial professional and investor perspectives. The results indicate a clear investor expectation that digital engagement will be the preferred form of interaction in the future.
While many financial professionals seized the opportunity during the pandemic to embrace technology and enhance communications with their clients, there still appears to be significant gaps between the technologies investors want and expect, and what the financial services industry currently provides.
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Our study reveals an expanding appetite among investors of all ages for more enhancements in digital tools and expanded forms of digital interaction. Financial professionals who recognize this trend and are willing to invest the time and resources to stay on the front edge in meeting their clients’ technology needs will likely be those whose practices thrive in the years ahead. There is clearly room to keep improving (and delighting) tech-adept investors as part of their relationships with current and future clients.
However, for those financial professionals slow to the starting gate, the stakes for failing to adopt could not be higher. There appears to be a limited future for practices that do not meet the investor requirements of tomorrow.
Follow the Leader: Healthcare
While the financial services industry might have been behind other industries on the technology uptake, healthcare led the way and benefited tremendously from that leadership. Telehealth, a term rarely heard pre-pandemic, has likely transformed healthcare for good. In a study by healthcare digital solutions provider Sykes,
“Before the pandemic, 56% of Americans did not believe they could receive the same level of care from telehealth compared to in-person care, but recent polling shows nearly 80% of Americans now say it is possible2.”
If such a tectonic shift in consumer attitudes can occur this quickly on an issue as crucial as individual health, the wealth management industry should also see dramatic changes in investor behavior. In fact, in our Jackson research, investors rated the importance of having technology platforms in financial planning nearly as high as that for healthcare.
The Next Normal
Much has been written about what the world may look like when we get past the pandemic. Will things return to the previous norms? For the client/financial professional relationship, that is highly unlikely. If new technologies continue to improve the client experience, drive down expenses, and keep improving the financial planning process, why would an investor want to return to yesterday?
Our research suggests that change is inevitable and, in some cases, will be permanent. Oh, and about those in personal one-on-one meetings?
Only 28% of investors plan to go back to in-person meetings with their financial professional when the pandemic ends3.
Perhaps the most critical insight in Jackson’s research for investors is the finding that when financial professionals make easy-to-use financial planning technology readily available, investors can use it to stay on track with their plans. Forty-five percent of investors surveyed have a financial plan, and ninety-six of those investors actively follow that plan4. Let’s face it, to actively follow a financial plan requires frequent interaction and anytime access to portfolio performance and reporting. That means digital.
It would be absurd to suggest the global COVID crisis was anything but a crisis. However, forced changes in the ways we live, interact and communicate brought on due to the pandemic have moved us forward as a society in several fundamental ways. The rapid adoption of new technology and how it can help simplify and streamline our lives is one example. For tech-savvy investors, technology can be a powerful ally in your quest for financial freedom. Now’s the time to seek out and select a financial professional who embraces technology to strengthen your working relationship and planning experience.