Viewpoint: How technology is shaping the future of advice

Darren Whereat

By Darren Whereat, Chief Advice Officer

It’s been incredible to watch our industry reshape itself over the last six months. Who would’ve thought we’d be having most of our meetings online with minimal face-to-face contact?

The external shock delivered by the COVID-19 crisis has likely moved advisers’ technology adoption and usage forward by at least two or three years. We may never return to ’normal’ as we knew it.

What hasn’t changed is the widespread need for financial advice. If anything, the economic challenges stemming from the COVID-19 crisis mean more Australians need financial guidance and support. With only 1 in 5 Australians seeking advice currently, our industry needs to take this opportunity to improve the way we do things.

Making advice more accessible

At IOOF, our goal is to support advisers to deliver valuable financial advice to their clients in an efficient way that makes advice more affordable, more accessible, and more engaging for Australians.

Technology has a critical role to play in achieving this goal, and we’ve already seen how our investments in technology have helped our advisers adapt quickly to a challenging environment.

For example, all our advisers can now use DocuSign to capture their clients’ signatures online. This is a simple but effective time saver that allows advice to be implemented sooner.

We’ve also noticed a large increase in advisers using our online fact find tool ‘The Wealth Report’, which we created to help clients get an overview of their financial situation.

As part of the IOOF Community Offer we made the Wealth Report available for free to anyone for a limited time, offering additional support to people who may have fallen on tough times during the COVID-19 crisis.

The next generation of goals-based advice

In late August, we announced a major investment in technology with our acquisition of Wealth Central, a propriety financial advice and client engagement technology platform.

Wealth Central builds on the power of the Wealth Report, significantly enhancing the client and adviser experience by streamlining the advice process and increasing the productivity of face-to-face engagement. The tool simplifies the data collection process for clients and financial advisers, as well as providing clients with greater transparency throughout the advice process, and the ability to engage with their adviser digitally via an advice dashboard.

The acquisition of Wealth Central gives us the platform to support our client engagement model and to deliver goals-based advice, more efficiently, to more Australians. This is differentiating technology that IOOF now owns exclusively, for the benefit of our adviser network.

A better end-to-end advice experience

As an industry, a lot of our attention in recent years has been on compliance and minimising the potential for remediation. At IOOF, we believe the work we’ve done on uplifting governance has given us the platform we need to take the advice experience to the next level.

Our acquisition of Wealth Central is a critical step on this journey. Our next step is to create an ecosystem of harmonious services, processes and digital tools that advisers can use to improve their advice process from end to end.

It’s an ambitious goal, but I strongly believe now is the perfect time to rethink the way we operate and make meaningful change for the benefit of advisers, clients and AFSLs.

We’ve already seen how quickly things can change when they have to. Now we have a great opportunity to get on the front foot and use technology to create a more efficient, more sustainable advice process that improves the lives of more Australians.