While advisors spend most of their time using computers, 56% say they don’t have integrated technology or processes in place to deliver a consistent client experience across their firm, finds a survey by SEI.
Focusing on daily operations keeps 54% from staying up to date with the latest technology tools. Meanwhile, only 5% of respondents said their biggest barrier to integrated technology was a lack of financial resources.
The importance of technology in managing client relationships was evident as 44% say they spend the most time in their CRM tool. And, about 40% say they spend the most time in a financial planning application or their custodial platform. Another 13% say they spend the most time in a web browser.
When it comes to using social media to communicate with clients, an 82% say LinkedIn has been the most effective channel in helping them build their business, while 12% say a blog has been the most effective. Only a combined 5% listed Facebook and Twitter. Advisors use social media conservatively, and 56% say legal restrictions and regulations are their biggest challenge in using the various platforms.
The group of advisors surveyed at the SEI national conference was evenly distributed from across the country. Half have been financial advisors for more than 20 years and 71% manage more than $150 million in assets.
In terms of the economy, while few advisors see an economic boom coming, a majority remain cautiously optimistic that the economy will continue to grow through the rest of 2014.
Slow and steady U.S. economic growth is foreseen by 79% of advisors. Specifically, 93% anticipate a modest level of growth for the Dow Jones. And 76% think the index will grow between zero and 10% this year, while an additional 17% think growth will be between 11% and 20%.
The results point to a significant shift in advisor sentiment from last year; in 2013, 41% of advisors anticipated slow and steady growth, while 40% thought the economy was headed for a short-term correction.
“It seems like the psychological after-effects of the recession are finally starting to wear off and advisors are becoming more optimistic about the market,” says Steve Onofrio, senior vice president, Sales and Service, SEI Advisor Network. “They may not be ready to predict huge returns but even anticipating slow growth is an improvement over where most advisors were a year ago. It will be critical for advisors to now start communicating that optimism to their clients.”
When looking at threats and obstacles that may still hinder economic growth, this year’s respondents pinpointed two main concerns. More than half (59%) say they’re most worried about geo-political issues affecting the economy. Meanwhile, 20% say they’re most worried about federal debt. In descending order, other advisors list social security (9%), the state of the Chinese economy (6%), and unemployment (5%) as their biggest worries.