Technology and the Consumer


The financial services industry is undergoing a transformation, and like most transformations it will move slowly and insidiously, until one day we all wake up to a new way of doing business. Those that don't change their technology will sink.

It’s no secret that the robo-advisor model has been pushing along the digital movement. After all, at the core many people are looking for investing advice to prepare for retirement. And if we’re all using the same technology to analyze the markets, and accepting that even the best advisors can’t guarantee the results, two other primary drivers will begin to become more and more important - convenience and cost.

Consumer demand has been undergoing change for years as individuals have taken to Google, and then Amazon to start their shopping experience. A study from Raymond James Research in 2016 showed that 52% of folks started with Amazon, up from 38% in 2014. And correspondingly search engine starts dropped from 55% to 26% over the same period. This is even more noticeable in the up and coming 18-29 age group with 62% starting on Amazon, versus 21% on a search engine. Finally, the Raymond James survey also asked users about Amazon Prime, with 44% noting they have a membership, up from 33% the previous year. Interestingly the strongest Prime membership adoption was for the 30-59 year old range.

So you might say that’s interesting, but how does it relate to financial services and more specifically your web site?

What the Amazon trend probably signifies is that people are busy, and want a simple, competitive way to research, educate and purchase any of the millions of products that are offered, and get them delivered to their homes or offices quickly and easily. (One report reviewed showed Amazon with a total of 398,040,250 products as of 1/4/17).

Amazon does a number of things that all of us in financial services should consider. First, Amazon gets personal! In fact, it’s a little bit scary how much they know, and how quickly they can respond, sending you emails, posting suggestions on the Amazon site, and even sending suggestions to other sites you visit that pop up in the margins (remarketing).

Second, doing business is very easy especially with 1-Click ordering. Third Amazon is very visual and research supports that images are more supportive for showcasing products, add credibility and provide context that drives the viewer’s imagination. Navigation and search are done very well, making it easier to find what you’re looking for, which enhances time on the site, and ultimately purchasing behavior.

When was the last time you evaluated your web site in light of changes in digital marketing? Are you reaching the visitor at a personal level? Are you interacting, rather than presenting to the visitor, and can they find what they are looking for quickly?

It’s becoming clearer in our industry that the prospects expect the ability to choose how much digital and human access they want. If you can’t provide it, they will move to the next provider with the click of a mouse.