It’s all part of the deal: why advisors must find smarter ways to meet client expectations

Stuart Clout, Founder and CEO, thedocyard

From giant enterprises to budding small businesses, every organisation today is being judged by the experience standards being set by the Silicon Valley technology titans, whether they like it or not.

We’ve all experienced how better digital service can quickly shift our expectations of what is acceptable. In our personal lives or at work, from banking to collaborating on a document, we’ve become accustomed to using tools that are incredibly simple to use, moving the bar on what went before. Delays or difficulties that we might have overlooked in the past stick out like sore thumbs.

The same increasingly goes for clients in corporate advisory. Expectations – and competition to meet them – were always high. That’s always going to be the case in a sector where supply far outstrips demand and the stakes are serious.

Now clients’ service expectations are shifting, whether advisors like it or not. Perhaps even whether clients know it or not. What may have seemed like best practice in the past - emailing 30 versions of the same spreadsheet, updated every time something changes - is not an efficient, user friendly or, frankly, smart way of working. That goes for advisors and for clients.

How we communicate with each other and clients in a deal is just one area. Security is another. In a world where data is the new oil, regulation is tightening and technology is advancing, client expectations around security are changing too. What can be done with data if it does end up in the wrong hands is mind-boggling.

Intuitive tech designed for deal making

When it comes to meeting and exceeding client expectations, here’s a few examples of the ‘old ways’ versus the new potential offered by DealTech 2.0:

1. Seamless communication: email versus digital workflows tailored to your team

The old way:

Who ever looked at their email inbox and thought “324 new emails – fantastic”?

Too many people spend too long wading through unopened emails trying to ascertain what we need to know, what we need to save or delete, where things are up to, and what we need to prioritise.

Clients want to know that the deal is getting done but they don’t want to be bombarded.

The new way:

  • Centralise all internal and external communication into one place for you and your clients – a single source of truth.
  • Assign tasks and get automatic notifications to keep the deal flowing, with team members and clients getting personalised checklist list and reminders of what needs to be done when.
  • Collaborate on documents in real time – no more re-sharing when there’s a new version.

2. Centralised information: rummaging through scattered communications vs. everything in one place

The old way:

Before I moved into DealTech, I worked as a lawyer in corporate advisory. I remember being at a dinner with a colleague in advisory. He received a call from a client asking for an update on a particular facet of the deal. Cue five calls to colleagues and half an hour digging through emails before he could call back his client to give him the information he needed.

One of the greatest client expectations out there is transparency. They want to know where things are up to and what is happening next. And they want to know fast. Staying on top of the details without a single source of truth can be a Herculean task.

The new way:

Check the status of a deal at a glance via a dashboard rather than rummaging through emails.

Empower clients to find the information they need, when they need it, via simple yet comprehensive reporting tools and fine-grain permissions.

3. Secure yet accessible:

The old way:

All the technology deal makers are accustomed to arose from a concern for meeting a client’s expectations of security, with some level of efficiency.

Virtual data rooms were a major innovation but the reality is, when it comes to data sharing in a deal, much of it is flying around in emails. While advisors reassure clients that there are digital audit trails, there’s no easy audit trail for what happens outside the data room. It’s not hard to imagine that in a few years’ time this will be seen by both clients and regulators as not just inefficient, but negligent.

The new way:

See who has interacted with what – both inside and outside of the data room – thanks to activity tracking across the entire lifecycle and span of the deal.

Make compliance simple. Find activity logs, communications and documentation today, tomorrow or in five years’ time.

The relationship still rules – but maintaining it is different now

Many argue that relationships are everything in this business. And they are right. But without a willingness to change along with the world around us, leading advisors risk their hard won relationships as service levels fall below expectations.

The world is changing and technology is too, deal makers can meet and exceed client expectations in smarter ways. How deal makers do business is becoming just as important as “who”.