The pace of the adviser technology market is moving faster than ever as the focus shifts to putting technology in the homes and hands of their clients.

This trend started with the emergence of platforms, where Advisers stressed 24/7 online account access as a key benefit of consolidating investments with disparate providers onto a platform. Furthermore it was a marketing opportunity as many providers offered a branding service as an additional value add. But did this it really give clients what they wanted? Has take up been significant? Having previously worked for platforms the reality is not quite what you would expect, with many investors not logging on at all or indeed only doing so very infrequently.

That experience is probably a lot to do with the depth of the content, complexity of the login process, level of features and in many cases look and feel of the end client view. So enter the Client Portal. A new all signing all dancing online service with a host of features from document sharing to secure messaging and data not only from advised investments but also bank accounts and credit cards. These are potentially a game changer for the market and even more so if they can be integrated with a transactional engine for advised business or execution only.

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But wait a minute! Have we not been here before? Technology firms have courted advisers with new solutions for many a year, be it the latest online CRM or the best cashflow modelling application and of course providers have now built their business largely around platform technology. History is important as we use the lessons of the past to make the future better. So what lessons have we learnt from these experiences? Success is measured largely by how you have managed the change.

Embracing portal technology and transitioning your business to deliver increasing levels of service online is a significant change for you and your clients. As such it would be foolish to treat delivering such a service as just another thing to add to your to-do-list.

Rolling out a portal is worthy of careful consideration and planning. It is important to stay focused on the client and their needs. For example, will you provide some training? Will it be office based, in their home / place of work or perhaps you could do this via a screen sharing/on line training service? But what about when the training is over and there is still a need for support? Is an offline video demo the answer or perhaps a subject expert in the business on hand to take client queries? You only need to look at the Barclays Digital Eagles initiative to see the importance big business places on helping its customers with technology.

From a business standpoint one of the first questions to ask is should we charge for this added value? Clearly it is a service enhancement but the dilemma here might be that you believe you can reduce operating costs by servicing clients in this fashion. If that is the model then adoption of the portal becomes even more important and thinking about how best to achieve that will be time well spent.

Here is one quick thought. Would you seek to turn off a client’s access to platforms and drive them to the portal? If not the position could be potentially confusing and clients would have the issue of maintaining multiple login credentials and passwords. However, some platforms make online access a pre-requisite for receiving electronic statements. This is an example of a practical question to be considered and it is inevitable there will be many others. Our strong advice is to create a formal plan to manage the introduction of a client portal and if you would like specialist support we would be very happy to hear from you.