Financial Technology

Financial Technology

May 01, 2013

How is Technology Impacting the Financial Space?

Technology makes our lives easier; that’s just what it does. Being able to more efficiently perform a greater number of tasks in a shorter period of time over longer distances has been the name of the game since the first humans started to use bones as weapons. Flash forward to today, and we can order groceries to be delivered to our homes from our breakfast tables via touchscreen devices, talk face-to-face with multiple people over great distances, and even answer office telephones from other pocket-sized phones, sometimes even with the power of our voice.

Financial advisors aren’t sold on technology yet it seems. At least not when it comes to social media and transparency, that is. Certain technologies with practical applications like digital signature services fit right at home on the financial front lines but not so with social technologies. Where some might see an opportunity to provide higher quality services to a wider base of clients -- some of whom only have hundreds of thousands of dollars to invest as opposed to millions; others see a single word: risk.

This is not ideal, considering that there are entire generations of future investors practically being born with a Twitter account. Alex Pigliucci, the global managing director of the Wealth and Asset Management business at Accenture (News - Alert), a technology services and management consulting company, has unveiled a report that discusses how young investors and tech-savvy advisors are seeking each other out. It says: “When we talk to firms, they think social media is a new thing, and they’re trying to control the risk of it.”

The big worry with social media colliding with financial advice is misinterpretation. “The risk is you can imply something that you don’t wish to imply to clients or future clients,” Angie Herbers, who runs a research and consulting firm, stated. When the information is given to a client via a link to an article explaining an investment strategy there is no way of knowing how it will be interpreted. Because of the high stakes involved when working with such vast sums of money, leaving things open to untrained interpretation is just not an option.

On the other hand, technology can help clients take ownership of their investments in a way that turns the financial advisor from holder of all pertinent information into an interpreter. Not to mention there is a pervasive idea that social media is the key to acquiring much sought-after younger clients. Fidelity’s annual broker and adviser sentiment index, released last year, indicated that technology adept advisors who catered their services to clients in their 30’s and 40’s raked in on average $8 million more than baby-boomer focused counterparts.

Over all, the jury is still out, with some firms citing activity over LinkedIn (News - Alert) as their engagement through social media, and others still not willing to allow the risks of this technology at all. For the technophobic investor this can come as a comfort, as this attitude will ensure that meetings with their advisors will still be standard operating procedure, but smaller clients will have to settle for sub-million dollar service.

Edited by Jamie Epstein

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