While customer service has evolved in many industries, financial services is still a bit behind the curve.

Being a financial advisor in today’s pandemic environment is quite different today compared to previous decades. We’ve seen increased regulation, the arrival of new technology, and dramatic shifts in consumer behavior. All of this underscores the need to remain relevant – now more than ever.

Historically, these three factors have driven most of the change in the financial services industry:

  1. Legislative and regulatory changes — firms must alter their practices to remain compliant and avoid censure.
  2. Increased costs — firms must operate more efficiently to control expenses.
  3. Customer expectations — firms must adjust their marketing and retention strategies to bring in new customers and boost revenues.

Today, though, a fourth driver has emerged. This driver, spared by the COVID-19 pandemic, could have more influence than the other three combined.

4. Clients’ engagement needs.

Here’s what this means for financial advisors: Today, consumers enjoy more choices and greater flexibility than ever. In fact, we require it not only of the products and services we buy but of our experiences consuming them.

Any business that is not client-centric will have a difficult time competing in today’s hyper-competitive financial world. However, becoming engaged with clients and understanding their wants and needs, though, is an ongoing process.

For example, consider how profoundly Amazon has impacted the retail sector. While the retail industry failed to change customer experience expectations meaningfully, Amazon succeeded by aligning with and catering to these changing needs. They dominated the retail marketplace through technology, efficient online distribution, and constant customer engagement.

Unlike Amazon, the financial advice industry has preferred to conduct business on its own terms. Today, though, customers have immediate access to much more information – and many more options – than in the past.

It’s time to embrace the future.

Financial firms must embrace the new world of customer service to achieve growth. As the wealth of older clients passes to future generations, we must provide them the client experience younger customers expect or risk losing them.

The pandemic has led many to want to actively plan for their children’s financial well-being earlier than before – in no small part because they want to be alive to see their children thrive.

This means advisors need to engage children and families of current clients now. They should build trust and confidence and should offer services in a way that younger investors can understand. Otherwise, these future beneficiaries could take their business elsewhere.

What can you do to adapt?

Simply put, consider how client experience needs are changing and how you can best engage both existing and prospective customers in a way that builds trust, affinity, and loyalty.

Advisors should consider actively challenging their views regarding current client service practices. Assessing every detail of the client experience – including the services you offer and how you deliver them — will help ensure a smooth, enjoyable experience clients will remember.

Finally, ask questions. Clients will typically tell you what they want and are happy to share ideas for improvement. It all comes down to caring about what our clients want, rather than what we want.

Advisors who continually update their client service practices will experience greater client retention now and in the future. For those ready to embrace the technology to deliver stellar client experiences, schedule a demo of OnBord today.