Consumer Intelligence: How Financial Advisers Can Use Data to Stay Ahead of the Pack

The most important predictor of revenue growth and profitability, now and into the future, will be customer intelligence, says a recent PwC report, Financial Services technology: 2020 and Beyond.

This intelligence forms part of data which is now all around us – from computers to smart devices to cars to coffee machines, we’re hyperconnected and leaving a detailed data trail wherever we go. In fact, by 2020, there will be 20 times more usable data than there was in 2016.

So how many of us know what our customers really value? Gone are the days of simple surveys and focus groups – instead, technology has given financial advisers (and businesses) access to some serious data about what users actually want.

Here’s how to tap into the power of customer data in your financial planning business:


1. Understand the millennials

A new generation of consumers, the millennials are growing up associating core transactional services with technology and start-up brands. Understanding what behaviour drives their consumer decisions is a great way to engage a whole new market of clients.

For example, according to the PwC Report, they tend to “build wealth as a result of owning a small business, investments, or real estate”. The Report also notes they turn to social networks for opinions, peer reviews, product reviews, and content and are open to doing financial health checks along the way.

Tip: If you can delve into the data and find out why and how they seek out and buy services, you can engage them with relevant content and be front of mind when they’re seeking out advice or looking for a financial health check from a trusted adviser.

2. Tap into technology and real-time insights.

Think: apps and wearable technologies, which go way beyond FitBits and will likely include a range of wearable devices into the future. According to the consulting firm, McKinsey, just like smartphones and iPads have exponentially grown in popularity and use, wearable devices are expected to cross the barrier from the consumer to the business world and projected to make $6.2 trillion by 2025.

What does this mean for the financial industry? For life and health insurers, wearable computing may make the underwriting process more collaborative. The Report notes that insurers may be able to use the real-time insights into policyholder health and behaviour in order to offer discounts, eliminate the need for lengthy medical checks, offer discounts and simplify the contract process. Who doesn’t want simpler contracts and processes?

And for financial institutions and advisers, it means greater and faster insight into their customers’ financial position, goals, and desires. Serge van Dam, the international segment leader of digital channels at financial services tech firm, Fiserv, based in Wellington, New Zealand has even predicted that the big banks in Europe will want staff members in the future to recognise a high net worth individual as soon as they walk through the door. Or they may be able to see a customers’ bank balance via wearable technology such as glasses before they interact with them, in order to personalise or streamline the customer experience.

Financial management and information apps like Android’s Fidelity app are also designed to help clients stay connected to every aspect of the financial world so they can learn, track, and trade anytime, anywhere. The Fidelity app includes money management tools, personalized feeds, market research, an enhanced ‘talkback’ experience, notebooks and more.

Tip:  You may be able to enhance the way you work by adopting wearable technology in your business practices. For example, apps designed to help provide quick and fast data about your client’s financial position and help them receive a better financial service.


3. Use cloud-based adviser platforms to streamline customer data

You may want to think about providing access to online platforms such as MyProsperity, a platform designed to help clients manage their personal, business and household finances by using cloud technologies to connect data feeds from numerous sources. Just like Xero rapidly expanded and became a go-to tool for accountants and bookkeepers, cloud-based advisor platforms are on the rise.

Tip: By offering a real-time picture of your clients’ overall wealth and financial health, it offers a useful tool for financial advisers and accountants to provide informed advice to their clients and streamline a range of customer data. Research the best online platforms to help you and your client share financial information easily and quickly.

4. Utilising AI to enhance (not disrupt) your services

Artificial intelligence and robo advice is here to stay and companies are investing huge amounts of money on them. A study by Deloitte estimated that “assets under automated management” (including hybrid offerings) in the U.S. will grow to US$5 trillion to US$7 trillion by the year 2025 from about US$300 billion today. This would represent between 10% and 15% of total retail financial assets under management. As robo advisors are starting to eat up market share, advisors need to look at ways of staying competitive.

Tip: Rather than seeing the robo advice industry as a singular threat, financial planners can benefit from making more data and algorithm-based decisions as part of their advice strategy. Robo advice tools should start to be seen as an extension of the analytical tools you already use in your business and an enhancement of what you already provide to loyal clients.


The age of customer intelligence and data is an incredible opportunity for financial planners and advisers to use analytics to unlock the information inside, really giving customers what they really want and improving your firm’s profitability and growth all at once.


Chris Wrightson. Founder and CEO at Centurion Market Makers, the industry experts in the sale, acquisition and management of financial planning firms. If you’re planning on selling your firm in 2018, we’d love you to call us for a confidential discussion, or continue browsing our website for more tips, tools and info on the steps to take when buying or selling your financial planning firm.

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