You're thinking about introducing a client portal, or it may be that you’ve already delivered one but your clients aren’t making much use of it. There are lots of benefits in having a client portal but you won’t achieve any of them unless you can get your clients to use it. To do that you must ask yourself:
What is the problem that your clients want to solve?
Your clients have two major concerns when it comes to their financial data:
- Keeping track of all their finances and where to find the important information when they need it, which is often in an emergency.
- Security given all the recent attacks on Talk Talk, the NHS etc.
If you can help your clients solve these two worries then you’ll increase your clients’ peace of mind. And remember, clients fundamentally pay you for financial peace of mind, so they don’t have to worry about their finances.
The problem from your client’s perspective is that there is a lot of paperwork to manage. Even though you're managing their investments and savings and possibly some elements of their insurances you’re only dealing with about half of what they consider to be their finances.
All of your clients will have a filing cabinet at home, bursting with financial documents. They are now receiving some of their financial information via email and some is being received through the post. They are faced with a choice:
Do they print the email and put it in the filing cabinet, or scan the filing cabinet to record the detail on their computer?
You send them a half-yearly valuation report either via the post of via email. Either way, you’ve given the problem of filing to them. They don’t want the report when you send it, they may want it a week later, a month later or never at all.
They know it’s important and so is all the other stuff you send them: contract notes, policy documents, valuations, schedules, income statements, tax certificates etc. They know it’s important but where are they supposed to keep it?
What’s more, they’ve other financial information to remember. Their home insurance renewal, car insurance, employer pension, flex choices, bank statements, credit cards, loans etc. It’s all got to be sorted and kept track of. What they want is an application to manage all of this stuff, not just the bits you manage on their behalf.
Think about it for a moment. If you could design the ultimate application to manage your finances for you, what would it do for you?
- Track your investments, savings and pensions
- Track your property and related insurances
- Track your income and spending
- Store all the paperwork so you can find it easily, especially in an emergency
- Remind you when you need to do things
- Nudge you into making better financial decisions.
Your clients shop at Amazon, bank online, manage their social life on facebook, they want to manage their finances more simply.
See the bigger picture
Make things easy for your clients by providing them with an app to manage all of their finances.
Start at the beginning with the bit they expect. Online access to their investments, savings and pensions i.e. all the bits you manage for them. This means putting the data from your back-office in front of your clients and if it’s not up-to-date this is a problem we can help you solve.
Clients fundamentally want to see two things:
How much are my investments worth and have they gone up or down?
How can you clean up the data in your back-office so you can put it online?
We extract the data from your back office assuming this is the master record and overlay it with up to date data from your platforms and providers. What’s more we continue to manage all these feeds for you on a daily basis, keeping your data up to date for you to put online for your clients.
You’ve probably now got the cleanest and most accurate set of data on your clients you’ve had but it may still not be 100% up to date. Does that matter?
Our experience says that clients do not expect all their data to be fully up to date all the time. There will be older providers who do not offer contract enquiry or data download and clients still value seeing this data.
Clients are shown the accuracy of the data (when it was last valued) and how it is being valued by using a familiar signal strength indicator:
Clients want to see their data and know how reliable it is. Having the odd contract which cannot be updated automatically encourages clients to migrate older plans onto newer platforms so they can be.
You’ve now got a database which can be put in front of clients to allow them to access the data you hold on them. You can double-check each valuation against your back-office which will reassure you that the data is up to date, then put it in front of your client to be certain it’s up to date. They’ll tell you if they think anything’s missing or inaccurate and help you clean your data. We find clients react well to this process, pleased to be able to see their data in one place and happy to help correct any errors in the initial data load.
Benefit one has been achieved. You’ve have accurate and reliable client data and it’s our job to keep it up to date for you. We manage the data feeds, price updates and contract enquiry messaging so your client logs into an up to date database daily without any hassle for you. You can view the up to date data at any time and use the data yourself for any purpose including fact-finding and reporting.
At this point though your clients are not overwhelmed. It’s useful seeing the up to date data but it’s still only part of their finances. In the next article, I’ll introduce you to the features that will help turn your client portal into your client’s financial app.