The pandemic may have changed the way we use technology and, ultimately, the way we manage our finances.
Throughout the pandemic, people have increasingly relied on digital platforms, such as websites, apps, and video conferencing tools, for work and personal pursuits. At the same time, organizations have improved their online customer experiences by integrating new technologies, making investments and accelerating improvements to meet the increase in digital traffic. These advancements have often aimed to push people’s everyday choices and behaviors as well as improve consumer decision-making.
It seems to work. Businesses are interacting with their customers more than ever through digital channels. In fact, in the United States, 65% of customer interactions were digital in nature in July 2020, compared to just 41% in December 2019, according to McKinsey research. It would have taken three years to see this increase with previous digital adoption rates.
Interactions with financial companies were no exception. In a recent survey of US investors, Vanguard found that digital engagement to carry out financial activities is strong. Around 70% of respondents said they were comfortable conducting financial activities online, and more than half (53%) were comfortable doing most of their investing online. In addition, 60% of respondents favorite conducting financial activities online versus other methods, such as in-person transactions and customer service over the phone.
Survey participants cite a plethora of benefits to engaging with their money digitally, which mostly boil down to a sense of control and the ability to save time. Specifically, investors cited saving time (81%), being able to conduct financial activities at any time (75%), and quicker access to their money (67%) as reasons why investors prefer the digital engagement.
Benefits such as the ability to transact in real time and wide accessibility to online financial websites allow people to take control of many financial interactions. More control (47%) and more responsiveness (38%) are also among the top benefits of digital engagement. Whether it’s simply checking the performance of specific stocks or interacting with their 401(k) investments, thanks to technology, individuals can interact with their money when and how they want, without always needing rely on human support.
Barriers to digital adoption
As more and more investors feel comfortable bringing their investing experience entirely online, Vanguard’s survey found that some respondents are still unsure about engaging digitally with their investment companies. financial services. According to the survey, security concerns are the main reason why investors would not conduct financial activity online, regardless of their general comfort with their financial companies’ digital platforms. As a result, data protection remains a critical area of focus for many organizations, especially financial services companies that continue to ramp up already sophisticated security measures.
The results indicate that nearly two in five investors are not comfortable conducting financial activities online, and roughly the same percentage of respondents are not comfortable doing most of their investing online. . After security, investors cited confusion (22%) about the platform as the second most common reason they avoid doing their finances online.
How to gain digital confidence
As digital investor adoption and engagement grew, financial services firms accelerated — and continue to accelerate — improvements to their online experiences and mobile apps. Investors who are hesitant to embrace digital platforms should explore advances in security offerings offered by their financial services companies. Not only will individuals reap the benefits enjoyed by their digitally-leaned peers, but they will also see how websites and apps have evolved security and browsing. For example, many mobile sites and apps now offer more secure methods of account access using a mobile device’s facial or fingerprint recognition feature. In addition, more modern interfaces make it easier to upload documents, provide intuitive search functions, offer visualizations of account performance and trends, and enable sophisticated digital customer service.
Investors will continue to see a move towards digital empowerment. Many of the improvements made by financial services companies reflect efforts to empower investors by giving them greater control, saving them time and addressing key concerns raised in the Vanguard survey. From “invisible” improvements in technology infrastructure to tools investors can interact with to optimize personal portfolios and maximize long-term results, the overarching result is an elevated, reliable, and more robust user experience.
Whether fully on board with digital engagement or still a little hesitant, investors can and should expect greater control, convenience and confidence when it comes to managing their finances in a digitally-enhanced environment. digital. And while live human support will continue to play an important role for more complex financial issues, online and mobile engagement can streamline the majority of financial activities for investors.
Over time, as digital enablement evolves even further, investors can expect better investment behaviors, better investment results, and greater confidence in their financial future.
Principal, Head of CX and Digital Retail, Vanguard
Marco De Freitas is Senior Director and Retail Head of CX and Digital at Vanguard’s Retail Investor Group. De Freitas leads the Retail CX strategy and its efforts to reinvent end-to-end customer journeys across all channels. He leads cross-functional teams of product owners, UX, analysts and engineers focused on transforming Vanguard’s customer experience, retention and value creation. It holds the 7, 24, 63 and 66 series licenses.