In response to widespread industry reform and technological innovation, financial advice businesses are adapting to a whole new landscape. So just how are successful companies changing their business model to stay profitable and competitive?
According to the 2018 Macquarie Accounting and Financial Services Benchmarking Report, it’s a case of delivering value to clients and meeting their expectations for faster, more personalised service. The report identified technology and on-demand access to quality client data as two of the critical elements in moving businesses towards this new model of service.
“The adviser of the future will have strong interpersonal skills supported by technology and data-driven insights, helping to drive truly meaningful client interactions,” says Sherise Mercer, Head of Macquarie Virtual Adviser Network, Macquarie’s Banking and Financial Services Group.
Having the right people on board is certainly an important investment in achieving that next-level client relationship. But even the most skilled advisers rely on high-quality products and information to give them the overview and detail needed for seamless management of their clients’ financial needs.
At face value, a Cash Management Account (CMA) might not seem a critical tool for delivering client services at a premium level. However, choosing the wrong cash hub can limit opportunities to serve clients better in the following ways:
Quality and accessibility of accurate data can certainly drive improvements to client service. This makes immediate access to current and historical trading information essential for boosting business efficiency and growth. Poor integration of a CMA with existing brokerage accounts makes tax and compliance reporting for individuals and SMSFs more onerous. It’s also a missed opportunity to offer clients an instant, comprehensive and transparent view of their transactions, which they have come to expect in a world of digital dashboards and portals.
A properly integrated CMA, that’s compatible with diverse types of software can also significantly streamline internal processes. This saves time spent on back-office tasks, which can be redirected to servicing clients. It can also facilitate easier communication with other professionals working with clients, such as their accountant.
Difficulties in carrying out investment transactions quickly and with sufficient scale can lead to missed opportunities, or just become more resource intensive. When a CMA facility lacks the capacity for bulk payments, this can make some types of investment transactions – such as IPO acquisitions – more complex than they need to be. Even the regular, standard transactions involved with portfolio rebalancing can be more timely and agile with a CMA that enables automatic settlement of trades.
Building trust and client relationship
The importance of personalisation in building trust between client and adviser was also a key finding from the benchmarking report. “We’re seeing the role of the adviser evolve from being a technical expert to being the central point of contact for all of a client’s financial needs,” says Eli Glotzer, National Head of Accounting and Financial Services for Macquarie Business Banking. “Skilled advisers will build a deep understanding of a client’s goals and aspirations, and identify gaps where their needs aren’t being met.”
When a cash hub can offer visibility of client’s complete financial situation – salary, super, loan and/or pension payments, for example – this gives advisers an even greater understanding of a client’s position and needs. This enables much closer alignment of advice services and even referral to professional partners, such as accountants or solicitors.
A CMA will generally allow an adviser to act on behalf of their client, if authorisation has been given. However, this assumes a high level of trust has already been reached in the client/adviser relationship. A CMA featuring more advanced digital technology supports adviser initiated payments, so a client can authorise on a transaction-by-transaction basis. This gives clients control together with the convenience of direct adviser involvement in their portfolio, improving the communication and transparency that’s instrumental in developing a trusting relationship.
Security and value for money
To offer clients absolute peace of mind that their money is secure, it’s vital to check that the Federal Government’s $250,000 deposit guarantee applies to the financial institution offering the CMA product. Another essential is to ensure any CMA offering delivers the best value in terms of competitive fees – annual and transaction – and interest rate on cash balances.
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