Boston-based Fidelity introduced on Wednesday new digital tools for its Wealthscape advisor technology platform.

The first tool, Wealthscape Virtual Assistant, creates an interactive experience for advisors seeking answers to everyday questions about using Fidelity’s platform. Fidelity also added an enhanced “Platform Search” functionality to help advisors more easily find information. Finally, a new integrated learning experience, called Smart Walkthroughs, is intended to help advisors adopt and use digital tools via walking users through key tasks and highlighting best practices.

The new tools come after Fidelity experienced a period of high activity resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic and its subsequent economy and market fallout, including a flood of advisors adopting technologies in order to continue serving their clients.

"There was an opportunity to get these tools out there as many advisors were striving to get their offices up and running in a remote fashion," said Joe Kurtzer, head of client experience for Fidelity Institutional. "Obviously, the primary focus of going digital was to find ways to get things done as efficiently as possible, but a lot of our advisorrs who had not had experience in using digital onboarding and eSignature have now gravitated to them amid the pandemic. It was up to us to seize the opportunity to educate advisors."

The number of transactions using eSignature for money movement increased 103% between February and April, according to Fidelity, with a 45% increase in new account eSignature adoption. Fidelity opened more than 100,000 new accounts in the first quarter of 2020, a 25% increase over the first quarter of 2019.

"The pandemic was an accelerant in the adoption of new functionality," said Lisa Burns, head of platform technology, Fidelity Institutional. "Often we build technology and then spend time focusing on how to drive our clients to adopt it. This, in fact, has been quite the opposite."

Fidelity also reported high call volumes from advisors over the past few months – many of the new tools are designed to help advisors more easily find answers to their questions about the company’s technology through self-guided solutions.

While the tools were in development before the pandemic forced most U.S. advisors to work from home, the rapid adoption of new technology has created an ideal environment in which to add features that ease the onboarding of advisors and their end-clients onto Fideity's Wealthscape platform.

Via the Virtual Assistant, advisors can ask questions directly as they function within existing workflows. Through an application of artificial intelligence (AI), the Virtual assistant learns as advisors use it, and will predict what information a user might need based on their previous activity.

"We hear all the time that advisors want an easier ways to navigate the platform and get answers to their questions," said Burns. "By implementing the Virtual Assistant, advisors can now ask a question in natural language, and have  the answer presented to them without having to exit what they were already working on. And as advisors continue to ask more questions, the Virtual Assistant gets smarter and can start to predict what questions they're going to ask... and as it gets smarter, it will also help us drive our platform development and become more responsive to our clients."

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