Engaging clients using the very latest technology is not only highly relevant to our market, but also topical in the wider world.
The global retirement savings market is worth in excess of $55trn, and, in general, it’s an industry that lags behind the technological innovation of others in the market.
Our business launched just six years ago, but in that time, we’ve proved that putting technology and user experience first creates levels of engagement that positively impacts the lives of individuals at multiple levels, from large financial institutions to employers to advisers and the end client.
Let’s take a look at individuals
We’re all used to digital experiences from providers like Amazon and Spotify. The way we interact with technology has become so embedded within our lives that we no longer think of these experiences as digital – they have become second nature and allow us to achieve what we need without burden.
The knock-on effect is that we expect this in all areas of our lives, including how we access our pensions. Unless you are in your mid-40s, in general, you won’t have thought about how much money you need to retire, what contributions you need to make and how to invest your assets.
As we know, looking at these things as early as possible can lead people to having much more financial freedom in later years.
This is where using technology can engage these clients to allow them to manage their pension in a similar way to their experience with the best online banking platforms.
In order to meet these needs, we researched the needs of this market, finding several gaps in service where technology could engage them in ways to improve their lives, and in turn, improve those of others.
We surveyed over 6,000 savers in the UK, USA and Australia to understand their views in relation to retirement. Among the findings, we noted three key opportunities where technology could be brought to bear to improve their lives, in turn positively impacting their employers and the financial institutions serving them:
(source: Smart Future of Global Retirement report, www.smart.co/future)
What about advisers?
In a non-digital setting, an individual working with an adviser would need to spend time communicating details of their situation. In a digital world, permitting delegated access to the accounts of the client saves time for both the adviser and the individual they’re advising. Additionally, it allows them to make changes directly, in a way that is transparent and understandable to all in the chain.
It’s still not uncommon for an adviser to spend weeks setting up a portfolio for their clients – sending back and forth signed documentation via post, waiting for administrative functions to process files and resolve questions, and so on. Our technology helps to remove those weeks of time and effort.
Importantly, engagement need not be measured in the time a client spends using your technology, but in the degree to which facilitates their own goals, and the value it creates for their business compared to the alternative.
The value of automating these processes through technology is magnified still further when we think about this at scale. An adviser wishing to set up 100 pension schemes for 100 clients may need to employ several staff just to handle this load. At the height of the UK’s auto enrolment legislation rollout, we introduced a bulk uploading facility, meaning those hundreds of weeks of effort were reduced to a set of simple file uploads. The engagement here reduced the time they needed to spend on this task and therefore had a huge positive impact on their business.
It can be tempting to think of technology as something dehumanising, not least because this is a caricature often featured elsewhere. For me, the opposite is true.
The power of technology in engaging clients allows the human aspect to thrive. It means that financial services institutions and governments can offer genuinely improved lives for their clients and citizens. It helps employers to contribute to the future of their employees in a way that allows them to get on with delivering value in their business. It enables advisers to save time and have greater impact and efficiency in their work.
Finally, for retirement savers themselves, it means that they can understand their savings earlier, and to a greater degree, in turn providing them with increased control and flexibility in managing their financial futures.
Additionally, if they use technology to choose how their money is invested, that can have a positive impact on the world too.