If you’re resistant to introducing technology changes to your older clients, it might be time for a re-think. 

    The danger is that financial advice firms who don’t start embracing client-facing technology, such as client portals, to improve their service, will get left behind.

    Using technology for secure client communication, document sharing, and storage can reduce administration, let alone help from a compliance perspective. The time and money saved on printing, posting, and waiting for documents to be returned before forwarding to providers and waiting on them is considerable too. And this is only one aspect of tech that can help your profits and your clients' experience.

    Using software allows clients access to up-to-date information on their financial plan and investments without the need to ask you to retrieve and share it with them. Further it helps reinforce your brand and their perception of how easy it is to engage with your firm, building greater trust. 

    Many advisers think it will be too difficult or take too much time to introduce technology to their older clients and are reluctant to introduce technology, or even ask their older clients, because they believe it will be too complicated.

    But studies show this assumption is wrong

    And there have been plenty of them undertaken over the past two years from firms such as Capgemini, McKinsey, EY, Abrdn and Intelliflo to mention a few. 

    Intelliflo analysed their data - that’s 250,000 active clients - and found that clients aged between 50 and 60 used their portal the most. And they are almost twice as active as clients in their 20s and 30s.

    Age UK analysed data from over 7,000 responses and found that 45% of 52 to 64 year-olds reported using the internet more, as did 41% of 60 to 74 year-olds.

    However the number of older people managing their finances online is telling, and worth taking note of:

    • 68% of those aged 50 – 64
    • 59% of those aged 65 – 74
    • 44% of people aged 75 and over managed their finances online last year and it’s going up.

    And Abrdn’s research of over 1,000 investors in September found the largest shift in behaviour was seen among those aged 66 and above with some 73% wanting some degree of remote advice from their adviser in the future, with 51% wanting hybrid.

    It’s not just simple virtual online meetings that prove popular

    Many advisers found that the switch to online meetings were well received by most of their clients, with many expressing that virtual meetings were preferable. But we’ve seen more active engagement from clients in their 50s and 60s for more client-engaging software such as portals. This is why we’ve seen many older clients adapt to, or increase their reliance on technology over the last 18 months.

    In financial services clients are seeking more digitally-advanced and personalised services, that go beyond just investments. These consumers are increasingly willing to experiment with new ways of interacting. 

    Capgemini’s 2021 research found that 76% of customers expect an omnichannel experience. Further 51% of HNWIs say they are not satisfied with their firm's personalised offerings or digital interfaces. And more alarmingly, 36% state that a company’s lack of value-added services might lead them to look elsewhere.

    EY's 2021 Global Wealth Research Report surveyed 2,500 wealth management clients and found the hybrid model is the most popular model. This hybrid mix of adviser and digital interaction is the preferred choice and is sought by almost half of clients looking to move adviser.

    And remember older, retired clients have more time on their hands to learn new things, so the idea of introducing them to the immediacy and flexibility of a client portal to stay abreast of their financial situation may be more welcome than you thought.

    Admittedly some clients will prefer to do things face-to-face but the key is to give them the option as the number of clients wanting an online or hybrid advice experience is likely to grow. Not just in the future but right now.

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