Advisers: time to connect with 2014

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The explosion of consuming through a mobile-device is leaving many advisers for dust, but getting a foot in this market is not as expensive as many may think.

Richard Dunkerley, head of marketing for life and investments business at Zurich, highlighted the importance of a white paper researched by the Beddoes Institute for Zurich and the Association of Financial Advisers (AFA) called Connecting with Clients.

The paper, which Dunkerley contributed to, seeks to solve the communication matrix for financial advice practices by providing generational evidence-based guidelines for optimising their client service proposition.

One of the major revelations was that digital and social media communications appear to be under-utilised relative to client preferences across all generations.

Furthermore, Dunkerley pointed to statements made by the chief executive of Yahoo, Marissa Mayer, that 2014 will be the tipping point for the evolution of the internet.

"When you look at mobile, when you look at the bandwidth, when you look at the Internet of things, it's going to change everyone's daily routines really fundamentally,” she said in a debate at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.  “By the end of this year [Yahoo] will have more mobile traffic than PC traffic."

It’s obvious that advisers need to tap into this market in order to optimise their business, said Dunkerley.

“We’ve already been talking to advisers about 2014 in that more online activity will be done through a mobile device than through a traditional desktop,” he said. “If you’re an adviser, you need to make sure you’re visible and your online content is engaging, but also optimised for new technology. People don’t like pinching and zooming.”

Zurich’s own research revealed that less than a quarter of financial advisers have a truly optimised website, despite the fact that 60% had reviewed their website in the past 12 months.

But Dunkerley suspects that even this figure is an overstatement due to an assumption that if you can view your website on a mobile it must be mobile optimised.

“I have had a quick scan amongst some more tech savvy advisers and I couldn’t find one with a true mobile optimised site,” he said.

And part and parcel of the trend towards internet use through mobile devices is the recent explosion of applications, or “apps”, which are software applications designed to run on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.  Apps work when the mobile device does not have access to the internet and this means their libraries of content are available anywhere, anytime.

The Connecting with Clients white paper demonstrated that apps are the biggest gap – and therefore the biggest opportunity – between current and preferred digital and social media communication channels across all clients, particularly with generation Y.

Dunkerley said the research should get advisers thinking about new and innovative ways to connect with clients – perhaps even by creating their own app, which can cost almost nothing to create.

“There’s a tendency to think anything IT related can cost a bob, but it doesn’t have to,” he said.

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