Remember when all you needed as a financial advisor was a yellow legal pad and a landline? For a financial professional in the 21st century, there are countless technology solutions — and they can be overwhelming. That’s where an IMO can help. In this interview, we speak with Brian Lucius, chief distribution officer at Gradient Financial Group, about the integral role technology plays in an advisor’s ability to attract more clients and referrals.
INN: What should technology do for advisors?
BL: Technology’s sole purpose should be to solve a problem — enhance client experience, bring value, reduce overhead, save time and help advisors scale their business. That’s why building our own technology has always been a top priority.
I often hear from advisors that they use an average of six platforms — that’s six expenses and six screens and systems where you have to reenter information. That’s not necessary anymore, and it’s a waste of your time.
Our focus is on uniting solutions into one seamless platform to make life easier for today’s advisors.
INN: Why is technology essential to an advisor’s practice?
BL: Financial professionals are typically good at reading people, listening and explaining solutions but may not have a well-defined process that earns and keeps client business.
Most advisors know they need a process, and many have one — in their head. But you can’t scale your business until you adopt an effective process.
We’ve always believed technology can provide that process. It’s foundational to setting our advisors up for success. Once we have technology table stakes established, we layer on additional benefits and processes that save you time and money.
“We are a financial services company building technology. We are not a technology company building for financial advisors.”
We provide a proprietary CRM, Virtual Advisor®, Generational Vault®, planning software tools and an email system that are complimentary for our advisors. But our key differentiator is how data flows throughout each, creating greater efficiency.
Because our tools helped set the original baseline of financial services technology, we don’t have to waste time refining what we offer. We can instead address the ever-changing industry, regulatory environment and client experience.
INN: How important is having the right tools to create a good client experience?
BL: If your office runs efficiently, clients will have a more positive experience. You’ll attract more clients and a larger portion of their assets. For example, with Generational Vault®, clients have access to their account values, planning reports, trust, wills and other legal documents.
They can communicate with their advisor through a secure, data-encrypted environment. This alone makes clients more loyal and reminds them of the value you deliver.
“Today people can learn about and find financial products anywhere. It’s what you do as an advisor that is over and above placing product that earns and keeps clients’ business.”
INN: As the DOL fiduciary rule is being considered again, what do advisors need from their IMO?
BL: We’ve built our technology around helping advisors accomplish three main objectives:
1) Do what’s right for the consumer.
2) Provide transparency and be upfront.
3) Document everything and retain that documentation.
You can’t provide transparency if clients can’t easily view their accounts and any transactions or changes.
Moreover, regulatory issues don’t usually surface while everything is fresh in an advisor’s mind.
So, how do you provide documentation to support your recommendations years down the road? You need a system to re-create what took place leading up to the sale.
INN: Any parting thoughts that are crucial for advisors to know?
BL: Adoption of effective technology is the biggest change that needs to happen in our industry. The technological ability of today’s retirees is much greater than we give them credit for. The world is not just ready for the technology. It demands it.
Even if advisors ease into it, the right technology will help their business, provide a better experience, and attract more clients and referrals. Additionally, it helps advisors document their process, be transparent and align with regulatory requirements.
To learn more about how Gradient’s technology solutions could help you attract more clients and referrals, visit IMOForTodaysAdvisor.com