Ask Google to define “portal” and it offers up “a doorway, gate, or other entrance.”
Tap in “Web portal” and Wikipedia suggests a website which collects information from various sources, before bringing it all together in a uniform way.
Once you zero in on “advisor portal,” however, suddenly the clarity disappears and a web search includes results from all sorts of sectors and industries in which brands rely on advisors to build bridges between a set of products and services and the end clients who use them.
Financial sector insiders often find themselves with a similar lack of clarity when advisor portals pop onto the agenda. You see, despite rapid growth – advisor portals have quickly assumed a position as a key communication tool for today’s web savvy advisors and their clients – the industry lacks a clear sense of exactly how a great advisor portal looks, feels and performs.
Yes, most people realize that portals can bring together information from a diverse set of sources, but can advisor portals really offer a doorway into the minds of investors?
Our best practice cheat sheet on advisor portals sets out to not only answer that key question but provide some useful suggestions on what portals should do, and how they can do it. Read on to hear our advice and, if you’ve visited a great advisor portal recently, get in touch and tell us what you liked best, we’d love to share some best in class examples with the wider financial community.
Why do advisor portals exist?
Put simply, advisor portals exist to make it easier for asset managers to talk to the financial advisors who sell their funds to investors.
Portal-based digital communication can cover anything from compliance and regulatory updates to the latest research on behavioral finance and investor preferences.
Essentially, web portals exist to help financial advisors access the information, digital tools and educational resources they need to forge longer and more rewarding client relationships.
Many advisor portals take it a step further and include a client interface that lets wealth advisors directly capture client details, carry out fact finds and assess attitudes to risk.
Client facing functionality helps to create a slick, digital experience for investors – who we know value the chance to do business online – and helps the advisor meet the 24/7 demands of clients who now expect to be able to tap into their wealth portfolio at any time of night or day, from anywhere in the world – all with the highest levels of security guaranteed of course.
What should a good advisor portal deliver?
There are as many different flavors of web portal as there are types of financial advisor. Just as the approach of a financial advisor is unique – driven by personalities, client needs and channel preferences just for starters – there can be no one-size-fits-all approach to advisor portals.
That said, any good quality advisor portal should deliver on the three core elements of simplicity, speed and standout style and design.
First and foremost, all good secure portals must have simplicity at their core.
Remember, the whole point of a portal is to gather information together in a way that makes it easier to access.
To offer a distinct advantage compared to trawling individual websites, an advisor portal must have a good understanding of what its users want.
Before designing a portal it makes sense to survey your advisor network and ask “what resources would make your job easier?”
Is there a particular type of investor they find hard to advise? Would they value some insight into behavioral profiling and suggestions on how to overcome the natural biases that prevent some investors from acting in their own best interests?
Are they struggling to offer younger generations a convincing digital offering that can effectively retain assets before, during and after inter-generational wealth transfers?
Do their investors crave greater flexibility and control when it comes to reporting that could be solved by granting access to a set of interactive investment tools?
Finally, what are the key messages that your marketing guys want to get out in the field? Where do they feel that advisors could do better, learn more or better serve client needs?
Once you’ve got a good handle on exactly what you need to offer, go back to the drawing board and organize it all in the simplest, most straightforward way. Get help and advice from UX experts and focus 100% on user needs.
Remember, a portal isn’t about a brand showcase that is 90% appearance, 10% depth, it’s about providing a highly functional, 100% secure space that actually helps advisors attract and retain more assets. That’s what will bring advisors – and clients – to your portal, and that’s what will build deep, loyal relationships that will endure for generations.
Make it fast.
If an advisor is going to call up your portal in front of a client, perhaps to use an interactive sales aid via iPad or enter the results of a fact find directly into the portal interface, they must have absolute confidence that it works, that it’s fast and that it has a professional look and feel that will impress wealthy investors.
Standout style and design
Which brings us onto style and design. While a web portal isn’t about a simple branding exercise it must, of course, add to the overall brand experience.
It’s also an opportunity to go a stage extra and deliver something that genuinely creates a standout advantage that advisors – and their clients – remember and value.
Find a niche that other asset managers are missing and use your web portal to exploit it – interactive reporting, video advice or investor education could be the hook, or simply granting easy access to uniquely useful market overviews.
What key functionality should advisor portals enable?
These days, clients expect personalized reporting that speaks to their individual needs and concerns. Adding interactive reporting tools to your secure portal makes it easy for advisors to produce tailor made reports quickly, easily and with a minimum of effort. Take things a step further and you could offer fully interactive reports with video commentary embedded.
A web portal can enable relationship management on two distinct levels. Firstly, the secure interface makes it the obvious way to manage advisor communications and co-ordinate activity throughout a network of financial experts. Consider adding secure Q&A and a community space where advisors can share best practice with peers.
Of course, advisors can also exploit the portal technology to improve engagement with the investors they represent, taking their client relationships to a deeper level while simultaneously integrating your portal right into the heart of the way they do business.
Build all of the necessary compliance steps and regulatory hurdles into the client interface, letting you and the advisors you work with easily collect and store the data they need to ensure compliance.
Despite constant talk of information overload, when asked, most advisors – and most of their clients – say they’d like to hear more about their investments, be better educated about how to interpret performance reporting or market movements and feel more engaged with the decision making process when it comes to managing their wealth.
A web portal offers the perfect way to store, highlight and share educational resources. You could offer a platform for expert analysis, feature “meet the team” material that brings fund managers to life, offering them a voice beyond the standard performance commentary, or simply provide straightforward guides to the various elements of wealth management.
Watch the video below to see a working example of a secure advisor portal
Ultimately, what you provide and how you organize your portal will depend on your individual set of advisors and their clients. Each portal is unique.
What applies to everyone, though, is the opportunity to talk to people more directly, openly and frequently than ever before. The potential yield from that in terms of ongoing loyalty and asset growth is most definitely a prize worth winning.