The Phone that Knows You Better than You Do by Sue Bergin

Every day, the mobile device in your pocket gets just a little bit smarter.

The latest example of how mobile devices can help organize your life comes in the form of the Android app, Friday. Friday is a personal assistant and is billed as a passive automated journal of your life. It tracks all of your mobile activities, collects and indexes them, and builds your own personal “Wikipedia.”

When did you last reach out to your top clients?

Friday knows, and can even tell you how long the call lasted.

How long does it take to get from Client A’s office to Client B’s office? Friday can tell you how long it took last time you did it, and the time before that too.

Are you spreading your business throughout town enough? Friday can tell you how many times you’ve eaten at each of your four favorite eateries this month.

Friday is a passive data collector that leads to “self discovery.” Continue using your mobile device the way you’ve grown to use it, and Friday will collect a treasure trove of information about you. You might even forget your phone is spying on you … I mean, collecting data on you. But, it is. Everything you do is chronicled just in case you might want to go back and examine it at a later date.

The creepiness of this app may outweigh its usefulness, but it is important to know that the data is out there and Silicon Valley (or India in the case of this app) is rapidly finding ways to curate it for us.

Your Parents’ and Children’s Annoying Communication Habits Can Help Improve Client Relationships by Sue Bergin

Do you have someone in your life that has a cell phone, but refuses to turn it on? For me, it’s my parents. It doesn’t matter if my 76-year-old father is riding his Harley Davidson through the Blue Ridge Mountains and no one has heard from him in three days. We just have to sit tight until he gets sick of camping and checks into a hotel. Then, he’ll call us. We can tell him to keep his phone on until we are blue in the face. We can buy him an unlimited calling plan for his next birthday. It isn’t going to make a difference. The phone is for emergencies only. As long as he is ok, it stays off.

Have you ever threatened to take away your daughter’s cell phone because they won’t pick up your calls? You don’t understand why she doesn’t take your calls when she knows it’s you, and she knows you want to reach her. She doesn’t understand why you have to talk to her when you can just send a text. She probably doesn’t want her friends to know she must actually talk to her parents. She definitely doesn’t want her friends to hear how she talks to her parents. She would much rather you text her. That way she can whine in private. On the contrary, you’d prefer to hear her voice so that you can better gauge the situation.

With varying degrees of aggravation, we have learned to conform to communication preferences in our personal relationships.

When it comes to your relationships with clients, however, you want to avoid communication frustration. Recognize that clients have their pet tools, and demonstrate a willingness to communicate with them according to their preferences, not yours.

Ask clients how they want their appointments confirmed. Do they want a text, e-mail or a phone call? Would they rather your newsletters and routine correspondence come in the mail to their home or office, or would they rather have them e-mailed. Would they prefer Skype sessions to face-to-face meetings? What is the best number to reach them? Are they among the 33% of American’s that have chucked their landlines in favor of cell phone service?

Keep in mind, communication frustration is a two way street. A client you’ve worked with for years could now be tossing out your newsletters, when he or she used to pour over them. It isn’t because they no longer value your insights, but rather they read their “news” online. You won’t know this until you ask about their preferences. Maybe it is during the intake process, or the annual review, or even a midsummer survey. The key is to get ahead of the issue before it becomes an issue.

Using your clients’ favored communication methods is as much of an offensive play as a defensive play. You become more efficient and eliminate some frustration in your day. You also ensure that you never unwittingly earn the label, “that annoying caller/texter/e-mailer/snail-mailer/Skyper/or Facebook messenger.”

http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/business-brains/one-third-of-us-households-chuck-landlines-now-use-mobile-only/20746

Not Who You Think by Michael Zebrowski, Chief Operating Officer, eMoney Advisor

When asked to identify their most formidable competition, most advisors point to the advisor with the fancy office, lots of back-office support, fully integrated technology, and the book-of-business torn from the society pages. While such advisors do pose a threat, they probably are not enticing your clients so much as the computers those clients have on their desks.
The digital era has transformed the investment landscape, including the way in which clients manage their financial lives. More and more comfortable with online services for education and information, clients are intrigued by how well technology can help them organize their financial worlds, and they are migrating to direct-investment platforms, such as Fidelity Brokerage Services, LLC, The Vanguard Group, Inc., Charles Schwab & Co, and TD Ameritrade, Inc.
This trend is probably more pronounced than one might imagine:
• According to Cerulli Associates, Inc., direct-investment platforms grew from $2.6 trillion in 2008 to slightly under $3.7 trillion in 2010. This increase represents a two-year growth rate of 19%.1
• In contrast, the growth rate for the traditional channel, over the same period, was only 14%. Cerulli ranks direct-investment platforms as the second biggest distribution channel after the wire houses.2
• This direct platform growth happened organically and did so in spite of a lackluster market. In 2000 eTrade and TD Ameritrade had combined assets in the $53 billion range. In 2011 they accounted for nearly $426 billion in assets.3
Growth Drivers
There are a number of factors driving the growth of personal financial management platforms, including investments made in some key areas:
• Advertising and Marketing. With nearly $1 billion a year spent on advertising and marketing combined, self-directed investment platforms have become media darlings.4 No matter what information your clients seek on the Internet, they are likely to come across an ad or sponsored material from a personal financial management provider. The same goes for watching television, reading magazines or books, or driving on the highway. Direct-investment platform ads are everywhere. With so many dollars fed by personal financial management providers into both new and old media channels, no wonder anti-advisor headlines such as “Financial Advisors Are Biased, Study Finds”5 are on the rise.
• Education. Successful personal financial management sites have incorporated “research amenities” and robust client educational materials. When a consumer enters a certain section of the website, educational content appears. Users do not have to search for more information. It is just a click away.
• Technology. Personal financial management sites are focused solely on the consumer. Made as simple as possible, they are straightforward, intuitive, and interesting. They make trading easy and inexpensive.
• Client Service. While the sophistication of the support is debatable, one point is irrefutable: “help” is waiting in the wings 24/7. Many of the top self-service investment platforms have made enormous investments in call-center infrastructure to ensure that financial professionals are available at all times to answer customer inquiries.
The increase in personal financial management systems is a trend to watch. Clients, however, will always need financial advice. Their desire to work with a knowledgeable professional, someone who can help remove obstacles and keep them on the path to fulfilling their goals, will endure. As life gets more complicated, the need to work with a trusted financial professional will only increase.
The content above is from Michael Zebrowski of eMoney Advisor has not been produced by Brinker Capital, nor does Brinker Capital make any claims or warranties to its accuracy. Views expressed are those of Michael Zebrowski of eMoney Advisor and do not necessarily reflect those of Brinker Capital.

SOURCES:
1 Osterland, Andrew. “Advisers blind to threat of direct investing, study shows.” Investment News.
February 21, 2012.
2 Ibid.
3 Pew Research, 2010.
4 The Nielsen Company, 2009.
5 Berlin, Loren. Huffington Post. March 27, 2012.

Bet on Success

  People are motivated by a lot of things, but money usually ranks somewhere near the top of the list.  Goals with associated financial incentives or disincentives are more often met than those without; at least that is the thinking behind a new wave of software services and mobile applications.

 New technology is giving life to creative ways to use money to incentivize success.  Take DietBet, for example.  DietBet calls itself a social dieting game.  It “supplies the motivation, support network and game structure[1]” to help users achieve their weight loss goals.  Users can challenge friends, family and co-workers to a 28-day competition to lose weight.  They can wager real money, or just bragging rights.

 Similarly, HealthyWage designs and organizes weight loss challenges and contests in which participants can win money for losing weight.  It offers challenges such as the 10% challenge wherein users who pay a $100 fee and lose 10% of their body weight in six months, win $200. 

 With GymPact, users commit to exercising a specific number of days per week.  They promise to pay at least $5 per day of the agreed-upon total that is missed.  If goals are met, there is a slight monetary reward.

 These health and wellness motivational companies have done what educators have been trying to do for years.  They’ve made something that is generally resisted into a game.  They’ve made a chore fun, and they use a motivator that works for many—money. 

 If it works for diet and exercises, would it work for another chore like budgeting or saving for a life goal?  Stickk.com is currently testing that theory.

 Stickk users can elect to pay a financial penalty if they fall short of their goals.  In the June 15 article,“The New Money Apps”, the Wall Street Journal reported on a Stickk user with the goal of paying down half of her $10,000 credit-card debt.  Any week that she doesn’t meet her desired $180 weekly goal, the system automatically transfers $20 from her account to that of a friend.[2]

 The user profiled in the WSJ isn’t the only one leveraging Stickk’s functionality.  The article goes on to state that 30% of the Stickk’s 150,000 user base elect to pay financial penalties for underperformance on goals. 

 While it may seem outlandish to suggest clients bet on their ability to meet financial goals, it is helpful to know that these tools exist, and plenty of people are using them with success.

 


[2] Anne Tergesen and Joe Light. “The New Money Apps.” The Wall Street Journal June 15, 2012

Is Cash’s Crown Askew?

Mobile applications are changing everything about the American experience, and money is no exception.

The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project recently released a report on the future of mobile money. One of the issues the study addresses is the extent at which mobile technologies facilitate financial transactions, and the speed at which consumers are adopting the technology.

Consumers are getting increasingly comfortable with the greater access mobile technology provides to their finances. Pew’s study shows that 21% of mobile phone users use mobile banking services. Those who use mobile banking services mostly do so to check account balances and review purchase activities.

The comfort level, however, seems to have its boundaries.

Consumers show reluctance when it comes to using their mobile devices to conduct financial transactions. In Pew’s study of mobile banking service users, only 12% used their mobile device to make payments.

While the mobile payment sector races to make the technology available and easy to use, consumer concerns about privacy and security stall its adoption rates.

Unlike cassette tapes that bumped 8-track tape players into oblivion, only to experience a similar fate when CDs were introduced, cash has demonstrated incredible resilience.

There was a time when merchants only accepted cash. Then came along checks. Next it was credit cards. Now, we are entering the mobile payment era, which will emerge as another form of payment that co-exists compatibly with its predecessors.

As mobile payments gain in popularity, cash needs to watch its back. It has already lost ground. According to an April 11, 2012 Rasmussen Report survey, 43% of Americans have gone a full week without using cash or coins as a means of payment.

While many argue that cash will always have relevancy in our society, its days as king are numbered.