PFS president Sarah Lord on how introducing technology can benefit the client journey
The focus of my last two pieces in Personal Finance Professional has very much been around client relationships and client-centricity, so continuing this theme, I want to share a recent experience at our local tennis club and how this has got me thinking about the use of technology in our profession.
This summer, during a visit to the tennis club at which my children and I play, the coaching team introduced me to a new app that supports the running of their coaching business. It was interesting to be on the receiving end as a client and, when reflecting on this, I realised there are many parallels that can be drawn with the use of technology in our profession.
As a client of the coaching team, I have found the introduction of this technology to be hugely beneficial, which in itself is fascinating because before I had access to it I didn’t feel there was a need for it – but now I have it, I could not imagine not having it. I am sure the same would be said for our profession – it is often thought that clients don’t want technology as part of their financial planning journey but I think it is fair to say, as I have learnt, clients don’t know the benefit until they have the opportunity to experience it. So, we should be confident in our beliefs about what will help our clients and not be afraid to introduce new technology.
Having the ability, through technology, to book appointments online can drive engagement with the business
Via the app, I have visibility on the coaches’ availability and can easily book a session to suit me – I don’t have to wait for an email or text back to organise a time. Feedback from the coaching team is that since launch it has significantly increased new business. This demonstrates to me that in today’s world, irrespective of the business – whether it is financial services, sports or anything else – people want to be able to access information and organise things at times to suit them. Having the ability, through technology, to book appointments online can drive engagement with the business and the same is true for our profession.
The human touch
In addition, while the technology has been introduced to make paying easier and give me as the client greater control, as well as to improve business efficiency for the coaching team, there is still a need for the human engagement through the actual coaching on court. So, technology has not reduced the time I get with the tennis coach. The same can be said for our profession – technology does not replace the need for clients to have that human interaction to discuss their financial plan, goals and aspirations; technology just supports the client experience by driving efficiencies so that planners have more time to spend with clients.
As a profession, we have come a long way in recent years, particularly during the last 18 months, in how we use technology to enhance client participation. My experience during the summer at the tennis club has reaffirmed to me that for a sustainable profession, we need to continue to engage with the use of technology to enhance the client experience.
Sarah Lord is president of the PFS