RIAs: Technology is Changing Your Industry, Are You Ready?

Your office phone rings. One of your clients is walking home on a Friday afternoon and wants to discuss how recent events impacted their portfolio. They don’t want to wait to see you in person. Your client is expecting the meeting to occur right there, over the phone, as they walk through downtown traffic.

The day where this scenario unfolds is rapidly approaching. A recent McKinsey report looked at ways the upcoming generation of investors and new technologies will change wealth management. It made several bold predictions, like omnichannel support, new platforms and highly customized, instant advice. On the technology side, the report discussed what is possible. Less clear is how individual registered investment advisers (RIAs), wealth management firms and regulators will adapt.

Change is Going to Come: Think Through These 3 Questions Now

The McKinsey report was published before the global pandemic proved people could work from home, and confidential meetings, like doctor visits, can occur virtually. These recent developments will only accelerate changes to the wealth management industry. To prepare for what the future could look like, think through these 3 strategic questions.

1. How will you manage new demands and the “always-on” culture?

Any time a major event causes market volatility, you get phone calls. You know the ones I’m talking about – the calls where you need to talk a client off the ledge and remind them their portfolio is based on a 15-year strategy. Now think about how your day will be structured if your clients can download an app on their phone and receive up-to-the-minute investment updates. Unless you want to spend all day on the phone, you’ll need a new strategy for discussing investments with clients, scheduling meetings and managing expectations.

2. As new platforms and methods are adopted, how will you keep client interaction private?

One of the predictions made by McKinsey is that by 2030, 80% of your clients will expect hyper-personalized, on-demand advice. Right now, you might have generic videos online offering advice about general economic issues, like the unemployment rate. This is well established and easily handled by the current regulatory environment. But, let’s say your client wants a video update, delivered to their email so they can watch it before meeting with you on a video call. To maintain compliance, each of those interactions needs to be secured. You’ll need to know no one else is listening in, recording or stealing the information.

3. When will regulations change to reflect the new reality?

Securing communications isn’t the only obstacle you’ll face. Right now, all your messaging is archived and monitored by a chief compliance officer. But, can this system withstand sweeping changes? How quickly will it adapt? The federal government isn’t the swiftest-acting organization in the world. Your clients are going to want to interact remotely before the regulations have a chance to catch up.

Then there are the apps and platforms people will use to access advice and reach you. If new apps are specifically built for the financial services industry, they’ll (hopefully) be compliant by design. But it’s more likely that financial advisers will adopt the apps already in the marketplace because their clients are already using these platforms. These were not built with compliance in mind. Before adopting new ways of work, or “Netflix-style advice,” RIAs need to know how information in apps will be archived and reviewed.

Prepare Now to Mitigate Risk Later

People want the convenience of on-demand meetings without going to an office. Telemedicine is already normalizing doctor “visits” from the comfort of our own homes. RIAs can’t pretend the change won’t come. Because the new platforms and ways of working will introduce risk, the time to prepare is now. Partner with an IT expert who understands the financial services industry and can sit down and have a strategic conversation with you about which technologies and platforms you’ll adapt and how to meet market demands while maintaining compliance.

At itSynergy, we have a long track record of strategically working with RIAs, mitigating risk and securing Arizona businesses. Let’s start planning for your future, together. Contact us today.

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