Everywhere we Look we See Technology – Financial Education is no Exception

You see it everywhere, every day: people focused on their screens, peering at their gadgets, oblivious to the world around them. Technology intrudes into every aspect of our lives. And our financial lives are no exception. Financial education, information gathering, account monitoring, online financial literacy courses, banking applications, and even financial advice are more and more often being conducted online and through mobile devices. Have technological trends redefined a financial advisor’s role? We posed this question to a group of personal finance professionals, and this article summarizes some of their responses.

Doug Devitre of Doug Devitre International Inc. in St. Louis, MO recently published a book on this very topic (Screen to Screen Selling: How to increase sales, productivity, and the customer experience with the latest technology, McGraw-Hill, October 2015). “Now… you can improve the customer experience without being physically present using customer-friendly video conference technology,” explains Devitre. He is excited about new video conferencing and screen sharing tools – such as join.me or zoom.us – because they “allow advisors to explain concepts from one computer screen to the other as if everyone was in the same room together.” Devitre likes communicating with clients online because “It’s almost impossible to remember all of the details of a conversation over the phone.” Digital sharing can help, he says: “When a trusted advisor confirms answers on the digital whiteboard, it not only shows the advisor is listening but also will increase the likelihood the customer remembers the details and decrease risk involved with any misinterpretation.”

Toronto-based financial advisor Patrick Doyle agrees that financial education online can be valuable. Doyle stays fairly active on his YouTube channel, which expands his reach. “Rather than explain a concept again and again to 100 people, I can direct them to a 2-3 minute video about it,” Doyle mentions. “I believe having a YouTube channel is an effective way to attract clients. They get to know me and hopefully like me (I’m sometimes goofy on my site, and people have complimented me for making this stuff entertaining…or at least as entertaining as possible). Also, it allows me to frame the conversation immediately. This is helpful because it allows me to bypass some of the faulty biases people come to a new conversation with.” However, Doyle cautions, digital solutions can’t take the place of personal communication. “I need to supplement this with personal contact, because I feel any one-way education should only serve as the beginning of a conversation,” he says.

Team Real Estate’s Justin Udy feels online tools are useful to financial advisors because people have different needs at different times. “Although most of my information is educational based, I have found making our communication ‘info-tainment’ has kept clients engaged and interested,” comments Udy. Some technological communication tools Udy employs to reach clients include educational videos distributed by email and on a video blog site; posts on social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram; and screencasts where he answers client questions, does property evaluations, or provides market conditions. “Out-of-state clients have particularly enjoyed

[the screencasts],” describes Udy. “ They love it because they can see what I am talking about, share it, and go back and watch it at a later date. It’s really personal and engaging.”

It appears that, while no financial advisor would be well-advised to abandon face-to-face client contact entirely, technology offers an enhancement to personal communication that can bring the message home even more efficiently.

 

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