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Technology tools are amazing things for financial advisors. They broaden our knowledge considerably, allow us to take advantage of home office smarts and give us the power to make client recommendations for products and strategies much more quickly and knowledgably.

Then why is it, when we haul out our charts and graphs that clients sometimes glaze over?

“You need to have a strategy for how you’re going to work the reports and technology tools into your in-person meetings,” says Kathie Askren, Principal, SBA Systems and Tools at Edward Jones.. “It’s not enough just to bring a 40 page report to the table and hand it to your client. Then you give your power over to the report. You should think of these reports as PowerPoint presentations, just a road map for talking points along the way. That way, you can show them the thinking behind the tool.”

Kathie suggests showing clients the technology in action. “I tell our financial advisors to turn the computer screen towards their clients. Reflect their input back to them…”I heard you say you want to save $500 a month for retirement. Let’s put that in and see what happens.”

Used actively, instead of passively, technology can be a powerful demonstration of strategic outcomes. “After you’ve entered a client’s key information, you can almost immediately show them the implications on screen. You can say, ‘hey, you’re saving this amount over this period…here’s where you are toward meeting your goal.’ And if there’s a shortfall, showing clients the red in the pie chart is a strong motivator. No client wants to see that red. And that can open up a dialogue about how to modify goals, lifestyle or savings to work toward making that red go away.” Ultimately, the power, flexibility and fluidity of your technology tools matters. “We’re fortunate here at Edward Jones to have proprietary systems that have been developed for us. All of our platforms speak to each other seamlessly. We’re able, from any office and for any client, to provide either a high level snapshot of their strategy or to dive deeply into it, depending on their needs and situation.”

“Number-crunching is a commodity,” concludes Kathie, “Tools make us smarter but they’re only truly useful if they serve to deepen the emotional relationship between the financial advisor and client.”