Digital transformation of the wealth management industry accelerated to warp speed during the pandemic. The way advisors and financial professionals work looks very different now than it did this time last year. And one thing is clear: there is no turning back

Every time clients evaluate you and your business, the goal posts keep shifting, as technology innovators like Amazon, Google and Netflix continue refining the meaning of the “user experience.” The question is not when advisors and financial professionals will change—but how they can adapt to ensure they’re not left behind. The decision we made more than a decade ago to begin our digital transformation has proven that technology is our ally.

Insights To Guide Your Digital Transformation
Technology helps us better understand the needs of financial professionals and the clients they serve. We use it to provide real-time personalization at every touchpoint along their journey, to improve their experience and meet their needs more quickly. It provides a continuous feedback loop, so that with every interaction, we never stop learning more and digging deeper. And technology helps drive targeted product innovation, with more simplicity, greater transparency and lower costs that we can pass along to financial professionals—and ultimately to their clients.

Whether you’re with a wirehouse, broker dealer or independent, these insights based on our track record of innovation can help guide your firm’s digital transformation.

What’s New With The Wires?
Wirehouse advisors have successfully maintained the highest rates of productivity in the industry—124% more productive than the average financial professional, according to The Cerulli Report—U.S. Broker/Dealer Marketplace 2020. Cerulli attributes this largely to the wires’ focus on more affluent investors—and by their investments in technology.

Wirehouses are leveraging the advantage of scale and the power of integration when developing new technology, according to Cerulli. A recent example is Merrill’s new advisory platform, the Client Engagement Workstation. Launched late last year, it integrates artificial intelligence, a custom-built web browser, real-time data feeds and account servicing tools into a single dashboard, to allow management across banking and brokerage.

Tech integration is key on the product front as well. For example, we partnered this year with J.P. Morgan on J.P. Morgan Multi-Asset Choice. This innovative annuity solution combines a professionally managed tailored portfolio with tax-efficient investment options—all fully integrated into J.P. Morgan’s advisory platform to allow for more holistic management across taxable accounts and tax-deferred annuities.

What’s Working For The Independents?
When it comes to leveraging technology, wires and broker dealers have the advantage of size and scale. Independent advisors have the advantage of choice and flexibility.

As the independent channel continues growing, more fin tech providers are stepping up to support them, from the front-end to the back office. This includes customer relationship management (CRM) solutions like Salesforce, financial planning solutions such as MoneyGuidePro and eMoney, and performance reporting such as Black Diamond and Envestnet Tamarac. 

Some larger independent firms may have the scale and resources to build their own advisory platforms and integrate directly with these third-party fin tech solutions. Other independents may rely on custodians like Schwab and Fidelity, or aggregators like HighTower and Dynasty, for a turnkey platform with open architecture that allows them to plug and play fin tech solutions as needed. Meanwhile, more product providers like Nationwide have committed to building the pipes that feed data directly into these advisory platforms and third-party solutions.

The Customer Is The Center Of Everything
One of the most important lessons we’ve learned in our digital transformation is that a relentless focus on the customer should be at the heart of everything you do. Understanding clients’ needs and meeting their demands is key. The goal is to offer your clients a digital experience that is hyper-targeted, highly personalized and omni-channel, with self-service options, 24/7/365.

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