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Johnston Carmichael Wealth: Changing tech to boost client engagement

Martin Hendry, a chartered financial planner in Johnston Carmichael Wealth's Glasgow office talks with Carmen Reichman of FT Adviser on their experience of going digital and how the technology complements their face-to-face advice.

Extracts from the article –

When Johnston Carmichael Wealth overhauled its technology recently, it did so with one thing at the forefront of its mind: client service.

The Scottish advice business, which is a subsidiary of Johnston Carmichael Chartered Accountants, has built a bespoke wealth platform and app, which allows it to keep clients engaged all year round and forms a central part of the client journey from early on in the relationship.

The wealth hub acts as a two-way portal between adviser and client, providing a summary of every aspect of a client's finances and it also functions as a communications tool between adviser and client, allowing for messages and documents to be sent back and forth securely. Any post triggers a notification in the client's app that a document has been uploaded.


The app also has a built-in performance chart, which allows clients to view the performance of their portfolio at any point in time, even remotely on their phones. There's a certain irony in that considering the firm's strong focus on long-term financial planning, rather than short-term transactional investing.

"It's one of these things, we want to be really tech friendly in the industry and we want to make it easier and better. But when it comes to the actual part of making investment recommendations, you're always hammering home the message that you have to take a long-term view if you're investing money," Hendry says.

"So you're kind of positioning long term, long term, long term, and then giving people access that they can check every day, which is the polar opposite. But then that's... the world we live in, the world we live in is where someone wants to pick up their phone and check their banking, check their portfolios, book a train ticket, book a holiday, so you need to have that technology in place."

Much of JC Wealth's early work is done remotely via electronic channels, providing this suits the client and the adviser. “It's what the clients want”, says Hendry. It also means the firm is able to serve less wealthy clients, especially when it comes to the financial planning.

“We did some analysis on our own portal. We found that the older client was spending more time using the client portal, which kind of flipped our thinking because we just assumed that the younger clients would use the tech more.”

But it's not all digital.

Hendry still sees a lot of clients in person, especially for ongoing advice reviews. "I think it's just a habit for a lot of people still, they like to come for a professional service. I think they like sitting across from someone still and it's still a relationship-based business for them, especially when it comes to your personal finances."

“Advice and working with clients is typically a longer-term relationship I think there will always be a good place for that face-to-face interaction, and that ability to build rapport. You should be in a position where you're able to go for a cup of tea and chat with clients, and know enough about what's going on without having to talk any kind of business with them. If things were just done all remotely, you just wouldn't have this, and you wouldn't have that deeper understanding of your clients."

Using technology has allowed JC Wealth to optimise the client journey, says Hendry. The business's philosophy on using tech is "if we can make it easier for the clients and also help the team then that's the lens that we're always trying to put to things", he says.

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To read the full article in FT Adviser here .