Dispelling myths, unlocking digital potential: why financial advisers should embrace client portals

While financial advisers are desperate to free themselves of admin so they can spend more time advising clients, many are still hesitant to spend their valuable time or effort on digital advancements such as client portals. In this article Sally Merritt and Julia Rouhan take a look at why this is happening and what can be done.

Did you know that almost half of financial advisers (at firms with 10 or more advisers) don’t use a client-facing portal?1 And that’s despite recent research highlighting that two-thirds of investors say they’re likely to switch provider if their wealth manager doesn’t improve their client portal or mobile offering.2

Why the disconnect here? And what is it that’s preventing financial advisers from embracing the efficiencies and digital capabilities that client portals offer? From what we can see through Evotra’s work helping advice firms get the best from their technology, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. We do know that poor legacy data (and the understandable fear of exposing it to a client) is a common theme. We’ve written plenty of articles about how to address data issues so please feel free to check them out on our website. But we’ve also noticed that digital reluctance is often rooted in common myths surrounding the digital proposition itself. To help advisers unlock the potential of client portals, which can benefit clients and advisers as well as playing a big role in Consumer Duty compliance, we need to debunk these myths. So here goes:

Myth 1: the technology is coming for our jobs

This comes up time and time again, and more so now than ever with all the conversations around AI. Client portals are excellent at streamlining and automating tasks, which can prompt both advisers and their fellow support staff to question the future of their role. When clients can see valuations without calling advisers and vital steps such as fact finds and risk profilers are done digitally, the dynamics and face-to-face nature of client and adviser relationships can change quite dramatically. 

But fearing the technology is unfortunate because it’s fantastic at getting through so many of the tasks that swamp financial advisers and eat into the time they have for building meaningful, valuable relationships with clients. We know from recent Opinium research3 that 72% of advisers have seen an increase in admin and reporting duties since Consumer Duty and 61% say they now have less time to advise clients. And research firm the Lang Cat’s latest State of the Advice Nation report4 cites 31% of advice business owners as saying that compliance and regulation keep them awake at night.

Julia Rouhan, part of our specialist team at Evotra, has more hands-on experience than most at helping financial advisers roll out and use client portals. She says: “No client portal is going to take an adviser’s job away but what it can do is create much greater efficiencies and help advisers be more productive so they can focus their efforts where they are needed most. A great example is how fact-find information can be collected digitally so that advisers have what they need ahead of client meetings. Where appropriate, review check-ins can also be done via the client portal, taking away a huge manual task from both advisers and their support staff. And the security features of secure messaging within a client portal (versus email correspondence) are also a big tick with the FCA.”

Myth 2: my clients are too old and won’t get on board with the tech

This is certainly true for some but not for all. It’s wrong to assume that older adults are tech-averse. Yes the numbers fall short of where we’d want them to be but three in five of those over 65 were using online banking by 2023 according to Age UK5. And back in 2022, financial app Revolut saw numbers of UK users age 55-74 increase by 215% over two years6.

There are many older adults who want the convenience and security that online portals and other technology bring and plenty of others who’d happily make the change with a bit of extra support. My own mum, who’s in her 70s, is wedded to her iPad and uses it for all her note taking while I – the 40-year old tech business owner – would be lost in meetings without my paper notebook and pen!

Fear of fraud is certainly a barrier for many in adopting tech but what’s key here is that digital portals create a simple, safe way for clients to access crucial information and services. Secure messaging beats email hands down when it comes to security and so too does sharing documents via the portal instead of relying on postal services and ink signatures.

Julia cites education as key. “Rollouts are always much smoother when clients are given a helping hand to understand the benefits of the portal and what they need to do to get the best from it. A great way to do this is to create a user guide or video that goes to clients with their log-in details. There’s always less friction when this is done.”

Myth 3: the move to digital devalues my role and makes it harder to justify fees

I hear this from advisers a lot and I find it difficult to get my head around. Your client portal should complement the personal service you provide to clients, not replace it. It’s not about doing away with traditional contact methods such as phone calls and written letters. You’re in control of how you use the different features and which clients you offer them to.

What your client portal does allow you to do is enhance your service, for example by offering secure messaging, more efficient form filling and letter signing, and better access to valuations and other important information. Why would this lead to lower fees? In any other industry, if the service speeds up and improves, you don’t suddenly expect it to cost less. If anything, you’re open to paying more.

With a client portal, the technology also does a lot of the heavy lifting for advisers, which has the liberating impact of freeing them up to spend time on the more valuable aspects of the role, for example providing advice and having face-to-face meetings. And it’s always an adviser’s expertise that clients are paying for, not their prowess at form-filling!

Are you ready to explore the benefits that a client portal can bring to your business?

At Evotra, we work with wealth management firms of all sizes to roll out client portals, helping achieve a smooth transition and long-lasting benefits.

To learn more about our established, proven process and find out how we can help you get the best from your technology, give us a call on 020 3410 1966 or email hello@evotra.co.uk

  1. Adviser Reviews, NextWealth Adviser Tech Stack Report, NextWealth, September 2022 ↩︎
  2. Digital Services in Wealth Management, Compeer and moneyinfo, December 2023 ↩︎
  3. IFAs still unclear on good customer outcomes – FTAdviser, 23 February 2024 ↩︎
  4. Regulation fears keeping advice-firm owners ‘awake at night’ | Money Marketing, 8 February 2024 ↩︎
  5. https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/saving/article-12038415/Over-65s-risk-financial-exclusion-dont-use-online-banking.html,2 May 2023 ↩︎
  6. https://fintech.global/2022/05/16/revolut-details-huge-climb-in-app-usage-among-over-55s/,16 May 2022 ↩︎