Advisors Have a “Complex” Relationship with Digital Disruption

Beth Graddon

Is digital disruption a threat or an opportunity? We asked tax and financial advisors whether they think it is an advantage in their business, which helps drive value, or a threat to their industry? The answer isn’t entirely black and white for most, but what’s clear is that clients value face-to-face advice.  

Here’s the question we asked: “Has digital disruption increased the value of your services to your clients? Please tell us how it's impacted your specific field of work.” 

Only 37% said yes, while 63% failed to see digital disruption as an advantage. Despite the large negative response, it was the comments that shed the most light on the complex relationships that advisors have with technology and the way it’s transforming the financial services industry.

Trevor shared why digital disruption presents a mixed bag of tricks to the process: “Certainly, digital disruption is “packaged” with the services I offer to my clients. There is no way to avoid the disruption completely because it provides an easier alternative to limit face-to-face communication. Sometimes it’s advantageous, other times not so. However, my clients place a high value on the face-to-face relationship because it gives them the opportunity to discuss and share other important information that may impact future services. Quite often I have to visit clients due to sickness, disability, other personal reasons, as well as small businesses. So, overall digital disruption does increase the value of the services I offer to my clients.”

Rachel pointed out how technology offering increased value depends on where you live: I am based in a rural community and our internet is not fabulous.. I advise majority of my clients to stay away from using/relying online software etc. I only use desktop applications and do not believe it is in my or my clients’ best interest to rely upon Cloud based solutions. They are often not as robust as desktop, and do not give an additional value, in my humble opinion. Do I use internet? Of course. We all do. But other than filing by CRA deadlines, nothing is crucial; it is just paperwork and we need to put things into perspective.”

Nik agreed with Rachel, and made a request of the CRA: “I agree with Rachel’s assessment of the digital disruption. What needs to happen is that CRA put back the practitioners option on their list. Who has time to wait for an agent up to an hour?”

Lillian said: “Digital “disruption”? No, it has not increased the value of my services.  It’s quite frustrating actually and when the client comes to me, it’s mostly to convey the dissatisfaction and nuisance of an experience they had.  Does it make me out to be the hero afterwards then? No, not really. It’s very disappointing and even an insult to the human intelligence, in my humble opinion.”

Jila contributed with a vote for old fashioned service: “People and mainly my clients value the one-to-one meetings and attention as they can ask questions which I know the answer to taking into account their personal situation.”

Next for some feedback from those who see digital disruption as an asset:

Ina commented from a bookkeeper’s perspective: “Yes, it has had an impact on bookkeeping services to be at a more professional level by completing the full process.”

Robert sheds some light on the technology driving digital disruption: “We have developed a platform that matches Canadian investors to financial advisors based on qualitative variables. Investors can ask tough questions as they interview their next advisor behind the protection of anonymity. Advisors compete for new business using quality answers and commentary.”

And, the final word goes to Adams and Associates Ltd: “Absolutely. Digital and online services have considerably increased our services and value added for clients. From online accounting to iFirm Portal for T1, T2, T3 and file storage. Can’t wait for the next big thing.”

Thank you to everyone who responded to last month’s poll. This month we’re changing gears and asking about another controversial topic: “The CRA recently signed a secret settlement with wealthy KPMG clients involved in an offshore tax scheme.  Do you agree with this?” Weigh in!

Additional educational resources: Enhance the value you personally provide to your clients, with goal-based, holistic wealth management services training. Enrol in the Real Wealth Manager™ program now. Save on tuition until June 15!




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