How’s the portal going?

By Douglas Orr, CEO of Novastone Media –

I admit I enjoy asking this question of CEOs and COOs at the private banks and wealth managers that I meet.

Only a few years ago online portals were seen as the great leap forward for the wealth management industry seeking to provide their clients with an improved experience online. But that was then and this is now, and the truth is that portals have not really engaged clients. Many of the institutions I speak to have struggled to get a significant percentage of their clients signed up for their portals and are generally seeing the same, relatively small, proportion of their clients logging in month on month.

Most clients have neither the time, energy or inclination to “pull” content. Portals have failed to offer much of an advance on the hard copy valuation that comes to their door on a regular basis without them having to go to the effort of finding their password and making the time to navigate through log-in processes that are unengaging at best and labyrinthine at worst.

We regularly speak to banks and bank clients who admit that the telephone remains a preferable form of communication to online portals that are clunky to use. For clients who are busy running businesses day-to-day and certainly for the next generation, picking up the phone or, worse, using the fax machine (still a suggested route by some banks concerned about the lack of security of email communication) is simply an anathema. These are people who want to be able to communicate when they want to communicate and increasingly that means chat and messaging applications on their phone.

Fidelity in the US’s most recent Advisor Insights Study published last month found that advisers actively using technology had an average of 40 percent more assets under management, were attracting more next-generation investors, and were better at expanding their geographic reach. Portals are sadly a passive technology.

This is the theme that we will be picking up with CEOs, COOs and, increasingly, chief marketing officers as we move into 2016.

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