Finance Technology: Embracing Change in Your Business

June 9, 2021

In a world where technology is evolving at an exponential rate and disruption has become the new normal, we should ask ourselves: how do we find opportunities in one of the most transformational times in human history?

In the past 20 years, there has been more innovation than what we saw in the past 300. The power of battery technology is improving exponentially every year. Our cell phones have become our second brains, our experiences, our memories and soon, they will become a copy of us.

We also find ourselves in a world where people prefer experiences over things. Look at the rise of platforms such as Instagram and Facebook, it’s all designed to show off your experiences and connect you with the world, even if those experiences are only a snapshot in time.

Will technology replace me?

Some of the biggest fears people have when they think about technological change are: will I still be valuable? Will I be replaced by technology? Or will Skynet activate and end the earth? Thankfully, Skynet isn’t a real threat but the opportunity to harness the power of technology is very real.

We need to realise that people are inefficient. We need to eat, we need to sleep, we are emotional, we question things based on our beliefs and this makes us slow and expensive. Computers and robots don’t feel. They don’t eat. They don’t question. They don’t sleep. They just do and they do it much faster than we can.

While computers and robots will inevitably do some of our work, this shouldn’t be seen as a threat, rather, it should be seen as an opportunity. It allows us the time to focus on the things that cannot be automated, it allows us to focus on smarter work.

Things like human only traits such as creativity, imagination, intuition, emotion and ethics are becoming extremely more valuable not just in the future, but right now. I’d even argue that when having a conversation, it’s maybe more important to think about what I am not saying rather than what I am saying. These are the things that computers will not be able to do.

When thinking of the future of technology and the impact it will have on your business, focus on “what can be” not “what is”. Never confuse the tool with the purpose. The tool (technology) is your force multiplier, the purpose is to give your client the best experience possible.

The problem with laggards

Another question to ask yourself: What is the downside risk of delaying the adoption of technology in your business? Is there a fundamental threat to your business model if you don’t act? Or is the reason to act purely to unlock more upside potential?

By delaying the adoption of technology, you run the risk of locking yourself and your business into a trap in which any advancements that do take place, will be to your detriment. Now, this doesn’t mean that you cannot at a later date implement technology, but it does mean that whilst you delay, your competition will be leapfrogging ahead of you.

Let’s look at the global pandemic. Advisers who embraced the change, albeit a forced change, flourished. Those that didn’t lost a lot of clients and ultimately a lot of money.

There is also a reason to act because of the upside potential. I have spoken to a lot of advisers in my time in the industry and there seem to be three things that advisers want; more time, more money and more/better clients. As I mentioned earlier, people are inefficient and by using technology, businesses can become more efficient and effective which will allow them to manage increasingly larger numbers of clients.

Where to start with implementing tech?

I want to start by making a note that you must not be scared to scrap what isn’t working and focus on what does work. Focus on implementing the ‘Agile’ methodology as it involves rapid iteration.

As an adviser, you already know what you client needs from you, so I would start by defining what experience you want your clients to have when dealing with you and your business. Once you have done this, implement the plan and then ask your clients what they think about the plan you have implemented and then tweak the experience as you go along.  

Next, break down every aspect of your business and determine how it impacts the client experience. Determine what impacts the clients experience. Anything that does should be seen as a cost of sales item.

Once you have done this, determine what you need from your technology partner/s. This will help with your search for a technology partner because you will have a good idea of what you need walking in. Know that you don’t need one system to rule them all. Rather implement a tech stack, a set of tools and technologies that work together to build your client experience.

When evaluating a technology partner/s, don’t focus on price, especially if it’s a cost of sales item. Rather focus on what value you will get from that piece of technology and how that technology is going to improve the client experience.

You will almost certainly have a demo from the potential tech partner that you are interviewing. It’s important to make note that a demo is generally a perfect world scenario and that your experience won’t be like that on day one. There is likely to be crinkles that will need to be ironed out.

Technology is a force multiplier that will help you give your clients the best experience possible, but without data feeding into the system, the technology won’t be as effective as you need it to be, so it’s important to understand what data you need to feed into these systems and then speak to the relevant data aggregators.  

Last but not least, give your clients a digital portal. If possible, give them one that not only allows them to access their info but actually do some planning themselves. Give them a sandbox to play around in so that they can better understand the implications of their actions on their plan. This will push your client to take more responsibility for their plan going forward because they will feel more involved rather than being told what to do.

The API Economy - Is it the next big thing?

An API otherwise known as an application programming interface has been around for decades. It’s only in the past decade that we have seen APIs becoming so prevalent. Gary Hoberman, the Founder and CEO of Unqork explains an API like this, “They allow different systems to talk to each other in a seamless, fast fashion”.

The API Economy enables organisations new ways to create value and extend their services. This leads to an improved customer experience, continuous innovation and fast delivery of products and services to market. It also means increased efficiency because contributors in the API Economy focus on making their digital assets readily accessible.

At Capital International Group, one of our digital assets is the client data that we have stored in our system. We have employed an Open API architecture which allows you to access your clients’ information. We did this for two reasons:

1) We believe that client data belongs to the client.

2) We understand that this data will be valuable to you when managing your client accounts, so we have made this info accessible to you.

Technology is the reason that Batman is able to beat Superman. The new way to work is to embrace technology, not to be scared of it. When thinking about the future and technology, ask yourself - am I driving change, or am I being driven by it?

Disclaimer: The views, thoughts and opinions expressed within this article are those of the author, and not those of any company within the Capital International Group (CIG) and as such are neither given nor endorsed by CIG. Information in this article does not constitute investment advice or an offer or an invitation by or on behalf of any company within the Capital International Group of companies to buy or sell any product or security or to make a bank deposit.

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