How technology is giving people more knowledge (and control) over their finances

Mobile apps have changed everything from how we order taxis to how we stay in touch with our grandparents — but their impact on wealth management is only just starting to be felt.

Wealth management clients are now used to the convenience and easy access of online banking apps — and want their experience of dealing with advisers (and their investments) to be similar, a new report by Ernst and Young has found.

In 2017, 22 million people logged into a banking app, up from 19.6 million the previous year — with 5.5 billion logins, representing a 13% increase, British statistics show.

Wealth management clients are still keen to have a financial advisor involved — they just also want an easy technological way to ‘check in’, the report found.

Clients are also more knowledgeable about their investments and the choices available to them, Ernst and Young says — which gives savvy advisers an opportunity to engage with clients.

It makes sense, given the broader trends in the market, says Dave Upton, Managing Director of Focus Solutions.

‘Digital engagement tools help to engage customers,’ says Upton. ‘It’s become normal for people to use a piece of technology every day: the use of smartphones and tablets has developed at a massive rate.’

The Ernst and Young report found that wealth management clients now mostly check in on investments via websites — with 63% doing so — but it’s increasingly popular to check in with a financial adviser online.

Peter Neufeld, EY Partner and EY Seren Head of Financial Services Digital Customer Experience, said, ‘Ongoing digital innovation and the rise of ‘on demand’ services has helped increasing numbers stay updated on their investments, in ways and at times that suits them. The advent of digital has also allowed people to become more financially knowledgeable.

‘They’re not only researching products in the traditional way, through advisers and financial publications, but increasingly through social media, the internet and apps. This in turn means they’ve come to expect a higher level of service from their advisers/wealth managers.’

Tools such as Focus Wealth allow clients to co-browse alongside an adviser — offering the convenience of technology alongside careful and considered human financial advice.

Focus Wealth allows clients to work in a way that feels natural — and automates processes so that advisers can focus on delivering the service these information-rich clients demand.

At any time, clients can log in to see their information online, ensuring they feel ‘in control’ of their investments.

The Ernst and Young report — which focused on newly ‘mass affluent’ wealth management clients — said, ‘Experiences of new banking mobile apps have made the newly mass affluent hungry for more transparency from their other savings and investment providers.’

But the human touch remains important, the report found.

The report said, ‘There are certain points in their journey of seeking financial advice where human interaction remains crucial. Digital automated advice is highly valued but face-to-face contact still has an important role to play.’

Research earlier this year by the The Guardian Life Insurance Company found that this is particularly true among young people — with 35% of millennials saying they use online financial tools for financial planning, but with 45% interested in face-to-face meetings with advisors.