How often do you check your phone? Surely no more than a few times an hour, right?
It turns out that the average person gives their gadget a gander a jaw-dropping 144 times each day. We attach ourselves to our devices and constantly focus on any new piece of information that our minds can understand. Not surprisingly, Advisor360°’s new Connected Wealth Report: Client Edition shows that people are now monitoring their investment accounts more often than before.
It’s not just an “oh, that’s interesting” news item. Today’s financial advisor needs to know their clients’ preferences and how crucial an effective client portal is. In this world of apps, people of different generations use investment portals in their own ways. Thus, marrying the right kind of digital engagement to a specific subset of investors is a key to success.
Seven in 10 clients of financial advisors (69%) report spending more time checking their accounts today compared with two years ago, according to the Connected Wealth Report: Client Edition. Younger investors, specifically Gen Z and young millennials, are more concerned about their finances than older generations. Thirty-three percent of them check their accounts daily, which is higher than other generations surveyed. More broadly, nearly three in four (74%) log in at least weekly, per the report.
Digital preferences by generation
Is there a deep digital divide among age groups? That may be a stretch. Investors want to feel secure about their money, but different groups have different ways of using technology and digital tools. In the report, Advisor360° focused on how different generations embrace client portals.
The data shows that although technology helps connect investors with their advisor, the majority do not want a completely self-service experience. Most people use digital access for their advisors, with 82% having a client portal. The majority, 91%, are satisfied with it. Each age band uses tech tools differently, however, and understanding the divides is key for advisors seeking to deliver premier services.
Millennials: The digital natives
Millennials are perhaps most pressed for time. Many individuals between the ages of late 20s and early 40s have young and growing families and are struggling to return to a daily commute while balancing obligations at home.
As for free time on their weekends to assess their portfolio allocations? Forget about that—soccer practices and birthday parties take priority.
It seems that young parents and those nearing their peak earning years are willing to be open books to their financial advisors so that they reach their money goals sooner. Millennials expect easy-to-use online platforms for their financial accounts. In fact, many even prioritize the option to text or chat online.
Younger generations, including Gen Z, itch to know how their investments are tracking, too. Whether that’s because of wanting to hit a specific financial goal or to feel like they are keeping up with the Joneses is hard to say. For sure, though, is that a streamlined client portal experience is critical to maintaining quality relationships with on-the-go millennials.
Gen X: Balancing technology and tradition
The oldest members of Gen X are approaching retirement. It is no longer just “10,000 baby boomers retiring every day.” This group of investors seems to seek a balance between the latest mediums for financial management and traditional in-person interaction. Many wealth managers may find that to be the ideal balance, too.
The survey’s findings support Gen X’s known independent nature. They typically require less communication compared to older investors and younger individuals, however, that does not mean relationships with Gen X clients should be taken for granted. This demographic expects portfolio access and information, but advisors must still take the lead by providing a robust client portal.
Young baby boomers embrace convenience
Older investors show the most surprising trends. Clients in the baby boomer generation prioritize simplicity in their financial plans. Convenience and ease of use drive their engagement.
Unlike their younger counterparts, they check their accounts through a portal about once per week and they are more resistant to giving advisors a comprehensive look at their total wealth. To engage baby boomers effectively, it is crucial to have a client portal that makes them feel comfortable, welcome, and (most importantly) secure. Cut the fluff, make things simple, know your guardrails, and ensure security to foster the best relationships with baby boomers.
Older clients adapting to new norms
Older clients, those in their 70s and 80s, access their online portals less often. Perhaps that’s no shocker. What’s intriguing, however, is that nearly six in 10 (58%) still report taking full advantage of their advisor’s technology offering, including the client portal.
At the same time, a plurality (34%) said they want control over what the advisor can and cannot see in their investment plans. Thus, there is a balancing act here to keep these often high-net-worth individuals and couples satisfied.
Keeping them happy might mean harnessing new communication avenues—texting and online chatting being among them. The survey results showed an uptick from older Gen X and younger boomers to older boomers and young seniors in the reported importance of being able to communicate through digital means.
Elderly retirees use client portals despite their limited digital exposure. They may benefit the most from remote access to financial information.
Tailored portals, education, and security
Each generation has its own views of what makes for the best client portal. What’s more, those opinions may shift as people age. Advisors able to pivot to changing preferences stand to benefit most as advisor tech tools develop. Building user-friendly interfaces, focusing on brand, educating clients, and ensuring security is key to meeting each generation’s needs.
Young people want educational content with chic social media engagement, while older generations should also know that their accounts are secure. The report shows that people of all ages want and need to access their portfolios in real time. This is the most important factor in determining whether their experience is positive.
Looking forward: Future trends
This research shows that client portals open doors to better client-advisor relationships, and the onus is on the wealth manager to deliver what their clients want. The years ahead will undoubtedly feature more advancements and personalized touches designed to be received uniquely by investors of all ages. The trends of more on-demand account access, user-friendly client portal experiences, and holistic financial planning show no signs of slowing down. Advisors devoting resources to ensuring that they have the best tech offering are best positioned for growth and client satisfaction.
Ronnie Campbell is a Senior Content Marketing Associate at Advisor360°, responsible for generating insightful and engaging content that develops the company’s social media presence and story.
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