How to cut through the digital clutter to give curated advice

Kerry McDermott, Senior Director, Business Development

E*TRADE Advisor Services


In an age when people are inundated with information, most advisors are waging a battle against their clients’ inclinations to tune out. How can advisors deliver financial planning strategies that cut through the virtual noise and connect with clients?

The solution: Curating client communications while providing consistent advice.

While it’s easy to give advice that’s helpful to a wider group of clients, if it doesn’t apply to their unique circumstances, they’ll likely disregard it. Imagine if you received a communication from an insurance firm with updates to their auto insurance policies, but you don’t have a car. Chances are, you’d probably delete or ignore the message—and maybe future ones, too. One irrelevant comment could make your client tune out the entire session.

Technology’s effect on curating advice

Because many advisors are too busy running a business and working with clients to continually tailor individual communications, it’s important to use every available tool and create a structure in which technology is doing the hard work for you.

There are three resources that can assist with curating information and delivering consistent advice:

  • Account aggregation: Keep your financial house in order and create intelligence around a broad data base that tracks client demographics and takeaways from client meetings.
  • CRM tools: Create categories in your system tied to significant life events such as having children, buying a home, retirement, or estate planning. That way, you can prepare the right information to share at the right time, following the discovery conversations with the client. Use the CRM to track your conversations and include notes from your previous discussions. Check every client’s account before connecting with them to make sure you’re informed about their current situation and are offering appropriate advice.
  • Artificial intelligence (AI): If you’re at the stage where you can incorporate more advanced technology, AI can do the planning for you. Input as much information as you can about the client into your system, and let the machine learn based on the client’s habits.

Curated advice shouldn’t only happen over email. As a testament to the power of face time, studies have shown that face-to-face requests are 34 times more successful than emailed interactions1—the good news is that this can also work virtually in the social-distancing era. There are many ways to approach customized financial planning—including video calls, online events, or proactive outreach when a significant life event is approaching.

Another suggestion is to conduct joint digital educational events with specialists outside of your financial planning network. This will provide your (and their) clients with insights from multiple experts on important life events. For example, bring together a group of clients you believe would benefit from advice on buying a house. Then, work with a real estate attorney to put on a virtual event in which you both share insights on this important financial decision. By bringing a group of clients together, you’re not only expanding your prospect pool, but providing extra benefits to current clients.

At the end of the day, your clients are your clients because your advice is meaningful to them. The issue is less about how to implement more educational programs, but how to deliver meaningful advice that your client can easily absorb and act on. They appreciate the time and thoughtfulness you put into servicing their accounts. Continue to demonstrate your value by combing through the virtual data weeds to deliver incisive, specialized advice.

Contact us to learn more about E*TRADE Advisor Services, and follow us on Twitter (@etrade4rias) and LinkedIn for the latest advisor insights.

A version of this article first appeared in ThinkAdvisor

1. Harvard Business Review, “A Face-to-Face Request Is 34 Times More Successful Than an Email,” April 11, 2017,

Kerry McDermott
Kerry McDermott
Senior Director, Business Development, E*TRADE Advisor Services

As Senior Director, Business Development for E*TRADE Advisor Services, Ms. McDermott is responsible for advisor selection and due diligence process for firms in consideration for E*TRADE Advisor Network.

Ms. McDermott has more than 14 years of experience in the financial services industry. Prior to E*TRADE, Ms. McDermott worked at Charles Schwab, serving as Senior Manager of Field Marketing and Business Development Sales Support for Schwab Advisor Services. Ms. McDermott also served as Director of Investor Services for an RIA group within Northwestern Mutual network.

Ms. McDermott earned her BA Communications at SUNY Old Westbury.

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