There’s a lot of pressure to “go digital”. It’s everywhere, from your relationship with your bank, or your supplier of dog food (Takealot for me), “digital” is poking its nose into every corner of our lives. At a minimum, consumers expect cataloguing on an app, uber-eats convenience and augmented reality business cards. Can present as some pretty anxiety-provoking stuff!
For Financial Planners, I get the sense there’s a level of fear around the thought. What does it mean to “go digital”? Does it have to come into the conversation between the planner and the client? What does that look like? Is it a whole bunch of fumbling around a complicated spreadsheet, with the client’s eyes on your fingers, feeling like an incompetent fool? That’s a terrifying thought, to tell you the truth.
“Digital” is a big concept that needs to be broken down so that we can understand what we’re talking about. Makes sense to think of “digital” over the list of activities that happen in a planner’s life. There’s stuff that happens together with the client for example, the face to face discussion. There’s stuff happening in the back-office, submissions, escalations, and analyses. Then there’s stuff that happens over the duration of having a relationship with the client, like communications and reporting.
There’s actually a whole bunch of “digital” that could be introduced into the practice that never actually touches the client. There’s equally “digital” that could be introduced into the actual relationship with the client. Simply moving from paper to email in ongoing communications is a good example of “digitising” one piece of your practice’s activity, your communications. Figuring out how an app might integrate into your engagement strategy is another version of digitising elements of your proposition.
I think we could prioritise the elements where digitisation would have maximum impact in the practice, weigh up the virtues of digitising one part of a planner’s activities over another. My sense is the most value to be gained from “digital” is to transform your face-to-face client experience. This is particularly effective if you do so in a way that tees up your operational processes for seamless efficiency. And this doesn’t mean clunky, highly complex spreadsheets to fumble around with for the client’s amusement. It doesn’t even mean sitting together with your clients crowding around a tablet or projected presentation necessarily.
What is does mean is having an artefact that can welcome your clients into the conversation. Could even be a piece of paper that brings everything together and intelligently represents the client’s life to invite conversation and transition easily, online, into your operational processes. The thing that makes it digital is not the “screen” that you use to present a graph or a picture, but rather the process by which data is captured, presented and recorded for your practice and your clients. It’s the way that you are able to take information from multiple different sources and arrange it in a way that builds enlightenment for your clients.
I think we need to start being less hung up on feeling like a chop in front of our clients and more focused on “digital” as a process surrounding the natural conversation that we’d like to be having with clients anyway. As long as “digitisation” makes that conversation easier and uplifts the way in which we gather, present, capture and record our advice, we’re starting to make the most of this wave of technology.