The financial services industry has evolved quickly, especially in recent times. How can you, as a financial adviser, stay on-top-of-your-game and benefit from the trends currently shaping the industry?
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, financial advisers have adapted to a host of unique challenges. Here, we look at the key trends that emerged as a result, and how you can make the most of what they have on offer – both to grow your business operations, as well as to build long-lasting, meaningful relationships with your clients.
A New Lens On Operational Continuity and Service Delivery
“Initially, the pandemic was rather disruptive for financial advisers,” says Discovery’s Head of Retail Distribution, Callie Nel. “Financial advisers suddenly weren’t able to have the same kind of direct access to their clients as before. For a period, this caused difficulty in managing normal business operations.”
“As a business that is passionate about SMEs, Discovery rallied together new sales structures for financial advisers. Advisers are SMEs in their own right; and so, we worked tirelessly to roll out various supportive tools and structures to better enable improved business continuity while allowing advisers the ability to maintain the excellent standard of service delivery that we all strive for,” explains Nel.
“It was important for us to ensure continuity of new business, but also strengthen our offering for clients through a highly unpredictable time. Supporting existing and new clients as much as possible has been just as important to us at Discovery as providing more than adequate support for our adviser base,” he adds.
What is available for financial advisers who sell Discovery products?
Enhanced business processes: Auto-underwriting, smart-underwriting and immediate lockdown cover. All clients received full cover with delayed medical requirements and no need for physical signatures on new applications. At least 70 mini labs at franchise sites were set up to assist with underwriting processes in the safest ways possible.
Sophisticated digital tools: All digital platforms (desktop and mobile based) were given an overhaul to improve operational processes. The intention behind enhancing all current digital platforms is to create a seamless virtual office for brokers to support the sales process. Adviser dashboards are continually being refined to provide data-driven insights for improved integration, as well as new business and servicing opportunities. Discovery also launched a sophisticated AI Quote system using artifical intelligence technology, which collected a Gold accolade at the 2021 Efma-Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards.
Offering of financial support for advisers: so that providing product benefits for clients had no financial impact on commission earnings. Loans or advances, clawback deferrals and some restructuring of existing debt was made available for brokers too.
Simplified sales kits, marketing collateral / promotional material, as well as client and digital – friendly benefit presentations
Digital advertising: used to facilitate leads generation for tied advisers.
Embracing Technology: It Just Makes Better Business Sense
Developing a seamless hybrid communication model
Virtual connection tools quickly became the norm in place of face-to-face engagements during initial lockdown stages. As the economy has opened, a hybrid client communication model has emerged – and seems to be here to stay. Advisers and clients can now use this as an effective ongoing way of conducting business. The trick is to strike the right balance for each client as preferences differ. Busy, tech-savvy clients may prefer more virtual connections. Other clients may prefer more in-person meetings. Some may prefer a combination.
Hybrid models are proven to enable advisers the opportunity to seamlessly blend in-person interactions (under safe conditions) with frequent virtual engagement. There are several advantages to maintaining virtual engagement:
Enables clients and advisers to use their time more efficiently.
Allows clients to “see” each other on a more regular basis and at a commonly convenient time.
2. Making use of automation processes
“The entire end-to-end process from sales to client management can accommodate automation. This can help to alleviate repetitive tasks or processes that tend to be admin-heavy and time consuming for advisers.
Automation has been shown to significantly increase efficiency in business operations by minimising mundane tasks and completing them at a much faster rate. Reliable automation tools and platforms that enable more efficient operational practice ultimately contributes to a much-improved ROI for business,” explains Nel.
Getting Social With Mixed Media To Enhance Clients’ Needs And Relationships
“Financial advisers can benefit from hyper-personalised relevance in their day-to-day business operations,” says Nel. “Mixed media formats, especially social media, work to a broker’s advantage. Ultimately it works well for clients too. This not only contributes to building of relationships but maintaining them too.”
The design of financial services products continues to evolve in highly innovative ways. In today’s market, it’s never been easier to tailor-make a comprehensively ideal financial portfolio. The more the industry innovates, the more relevant product suites become. For financial advisers, it’s about finding the best ways to meet the needs and goals of each client by balancing all tools and operational mechanisms at their disposal.
“The way in which we now live and work has become a blend of ‘old ways’ and ‘new ways’. This blend of technology and digital tools alongside the safe implementation of tangible, in person interaction has fast become the new way to establish and maintain client relationships. Getting the balance right in all the personalised ways clients desire is the key to success – and it’s already proving fruitful,” concludes Nel.