Mobile collaboration within wealth management was until recently an oxymoron. At many companies, there was little interest in incorporating live support through smartphones or social media into financial advisor technology. For field sales support, the typical mindset was that in-person meetings and phone calls were sufficient to meet business needs.

Today, it’s a different world. Though forward-thinking institutions like Wells Fargo have long pushed for mobile banking solutions, driven by visionaries such as chief innovation officer Steve Ellis, wealth management firms are now stuck playing catch up. Using Bank of America’s Merrill Lynch MyMerrill app for Android on their Samsung Galaxy smartphones or Galaxy tablets, clients have long been able to review portfolios and obtain real-time quotes. More recently, they’ve also been offered new ways to collaborate with their financial advisors.

While secure messaging has been around for many years, financial institutions today are increasingly looking at ways to broaden clients’ ability to interact with wealth management firms by incorporating tools like social media, texting and chatbots for live support.

Social Media

In the case of social media, leaders like Hearsay Social and Proofpoint enable wealth management firms to provide support for advisors by using social media platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter, necessitating effective social risk and compliance (SRC) solutions. According to Nick Hayes of Forrester Research, “the SRC market is growing as all employees must engage on social, securely.” The late 2015 acquisition of early market leader SocialWare by NexGate shows the consolidation of the market into a few dominant players, with Hearsay Social being perhaps the best known.

In a recent ThinkAdvisor article, Hearsay Social’s CEO Clara Shih observed that social media is “overtaking more and more of our clients’ journey, and as such, businesses have to pay more attention than ever,” noting that social media began in customer service, then spread to marketing and now has become a transaction platform. Today Hearsay Social supports over 130,000 financial advisors in 22 countries.

Dan Brousseau, a vice president leading the customer experience management practice at Forrester Research, cites the importance of creating loyal customers using carefully designed programs, software and metrics, especially when considering recent developments in customer service. For instance, Facebook unveiled plans to help others address customer support issues using bots, in a move widely seen as heralding some of the first real-world applications of artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing (NLP).

Texting and Messaging

Beyond social media, wealth management firms are embracing texting and messaging in new ways. Collaboration today means using a mobile device, as opposed to Microsoft SharePoint or Live Meeting. Messaging via mobile devices enables collaboration through software from innovators like New York-based Lua, which connects teams using texting and integrations with apps like Dropbox.

Chatbots are also increasingly being used to automate the most common client-firm interactions, such as password reset issues, which Grace Park, a former operations executive at Morgan Stanley notes “are the number one driver of phone calls to the call center.”

Financial advisor technology offering live support and new ways for clients and advisors to collaborate points toward a new direction in financial services. The next generation doesn’t want to visit a branch office unless absolutely necessary, and with limited time for face-to-face meetings, mobile collaboration tools offer the promise of helping financial institutions better serve clients.

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Michael Halloran

Michael Halloran publishes the FinTech Blog on innovation and trends in financial services firms and startups, and is head of partnerships and business development at Previously, he was with Morgan Stanley, where he managed partner relationships in the wealth management division. He began his career as a consultant at Gemini Consulting, where he helped launch the U.K.'s first online bank. He was also a managing director at Scient (now Razorfish). Follow him on Twitter: @fintechblogger

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