Having read many articles on the topic of being e-enabled or e-ready, it
is clear that many people have an opinion butfew provide sufficient
information for the IFA to makea truly informed choice.
The internet is not just a medium, it is a catalyst for major change.
Despite the move to e-commerce, many IFAs, and even some providers, seem to
view these developments as merely variations on a theme when they should be
considering them from the perspective of the consumer.
I would suggest that selling over the internet to strangers is not a
viable option for most IFAs, given the cost of promotion to generate volume
traffic and expenditure to build a secure site.
What is viable is servicing over the internet using a site to cut the cost
of communication. Instead of playing telephone tennis with a client,
requesting forms, checking on the value of portfolios and confirming
appointment times,it is far more effective to dothis over the web.
This is not a reduction in personal service but an enhancement as it
allows clients to choose when to do it and avoids them having to ring you
more than once and vice versa. If the cost of setting this up is seen as
too high, then encourag-ing them to use email canpro- duce a similar but
To ensure this servicing site meets your clients' needs, you should
consider involving some of them in the discussion when determining what
your site should contain. You must provide what the client wants, which in
many cases will be as simple as more flexibility in the time when your
services are available.
Making use of the internet allows you to offer a 24/7 service. Clients
want a customised service and technology can enable you to provide mass
customisation whichwill help you to retain clients and make them feel they
are being treated as individuals.
Getting the views of clients should not be restricted just to the initial
phase but should be part of an ongoing process, with feedback encouraged.
Improvements to your site should be done on a step-by-step basis. Utilising
features such as auto email and tailored email alerts can keep the client
informed and willprompt action on their part.
As the internet cuts the cost of buying financial products, IFAs have to
reject the current business model and separate advice from product
This will allow IFAs toconcentrate on the profitable part of the business
– giving considered advice, which is the area where technology still lags
behind. Using technology allows us to deliver added-value service while
containing and even reducing fixed costs.
When building or improving your site always remember the four I's.
Information-rich – quality not quantity, would you read page upon page of
text? Shorter sections allow people to dip in and out.
Interactive content – keep them interested by usinganimation.
Individualised experiences – allow users to have their own page and to
store their favourite route throughthe website.
Integration with the business – it has to fit, it cannotbe bolted on.
Being e-ready is abouthaving a strategy that works for you and not about
simply following the herd.