Storytelling – Using collaboration tools to demonstrate your skill as an advisor

By Cynthia Stephens, VP of Marketing, ByAllAccounts on Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

A few weeks ago, Rosemary Smyth wrote a popular blog on the merits of storytelling for advisors.  She described why stories are so compelling and how to tell a good one.  The rise of client collaboration tools plays a part in effective storytelling, by visually narrating a client’s rate of return, asset allocation, and other analytics.  This new way of communicating is on the rise.

StatPro’s Neil Smyth tells me that “there is a big demographic shift underway with Generation Y, the future holders of wealth.  They were born with the Internet, and don’t know a world without it.”  Neil says this generation will be much more willing to use online tools whether it is tracking their investment manager, or tracking markets or individual stocks.

He adds “You can’t guarantee performance.  However, if you can guarantee great client service then your clients are much more likely to remain with you.”  Tech savvy client service and sales/marketing professionals are now turning to technology to help advisory firms tell their stories and demonstrate their prowess.

The emergence of online tools gives clients easy access to their account information.  Some of these tools are static portals that offer a fixed set of reports.  Others are interactive analytical tools that go beyond static reports and let clients see how an individual portfolio is changing. 

Clients no longer want to wait until end-of-quarter to understand what is happening with their portfolios.  Advisors can now use interactive analytics on a portfolio level, to tell a story and build a stronger relationship with clients.  Which as Neil points out, is important in a time when “loyalty is disappearing.”

The Portfolio as a Network

“Every portfolio is a network,” says Neil.  “An RIA is part of a distribution channel, and wants sophisticated information from wholesalers and fund managers and asset managers.”  Furthermore he adds, “Advisors want to consume this financial account data in a timely manner so they can digest it and push it to clients and use it as a sales tool.” (See also blog post from StatPro CEO Justin Wheatley, Every portfolio is a network)

Neil is seeing trend toward joining up the various stakeholders of portfolios.  An asset manager asks their fund administrator to put data into a platform so it can be accessed anytime, anywhere. The asset manager, in turn, wants to be able to share analytics in a controlled way with its RIA clients, who in turn share it with the account holder.

Thinking holistically about stakeholders versus merely enabling online access for an account holder, is the direction that Neil thinks the industry is headed.  Getting the right data out of silos to the right people in this network from fund administrator–to–asset manager–to–RIA-to-account holder adds value to all stakeholders.

“Previously the methods for sharing information were email and static forms,” Neil says.  “Getting it out of systems was not very timely for acting upon.”

The new trend is having an asset manager control what is shared with an RIA.  “The advisor gets more transparency and a deeper, more-timely level of understanding about the product with analytics they may not have had before,” says Neil.  And this means, the advisor can weave a more compelling story for his/her client to build a stronger relationship.

Each stakeholder in the portfolio network wants the ability to weave their individual stories to differentiate themselves.  Access to the right information at the right time, all along the value chain, means that storytellers have more input for creating compelling stories.
Neil Smyth, StatPro Marketing and Technology Director, is responsible for the overall technology strategy and global marketing activity.

You might also be interested in:

What you should know about cloud-based solutions (Blog post by Cynthia Stephens, VP of Marketing, ByAllAccounts)

Storytelling - A must have tool for financial advisors (Blog post by Rosemary Smyth, MBA, ACC, Author)

Drive More Business with Word-of-Mouth Referrals (Complimentary Whitepaper)

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