Want to stay in the game? Make technology your friend

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A majority of Chris Gory’s small business clients are technology start-ups. They despise paperwork. So much so, some of them don’t even have printers in their offices. Rather than be flustered, Gory has made environmental conservation a shared value.

President and employee benefits advisor at Insurance Portfolio Services, Gory has found a company that automates pdfs, which plan administrators can send out as links to new staff members to fill out. It doesn’t just conserve paper, it also ensures people don’t skip over mandatory fields or enter incorrect data.

Gory also zealously harnesses the power of the cloud to amplify his service. “I keep everything in Dropbox and Salesforce. I’m able to access everything on the spot when I’m in front of a client. I never need to say I’ll get back to you about a policy or contract wording. It impresses clients,” he says.

Advisors like Gory are making technological inroads, understanding that their livelihood depends on it. Clients today have bigger expectations from their client-advisor relationship and technology can be the big leverage.

Gory cherishes his face-to-face time, but many of his clients are steadily scaling up. So, he also offers recorded webinars every quarter. They are quite popular, especially for onboarding new staff. “One of my clients just implemented an employee assistance program. As part of their onboarding, they’ve set up a page with links that include my webinar. It’s part of mandatory reviewing.”

Gory also recently installed Becca, a chat bot (Benefits Electronic Claims Consulting Assistant) on his website. Becca offers basic pricing on benefits plans, and information on health spending accounts. It’s only been around two months and has already translated a prospect (a California-based tech company that was opening its first office in Canada) into a brand-new case.

When it comes to embracing technology, Gory’s clients are understandably one step ahead. They’ve started using innovative ways to promote wellness, recruit talent and build teams. For example, some participate in the Green Shield Fit for Life initiative. Employees with a Fitbit or other fitness trackers can enroll in the program. Those who agree to keep count and attain certain goals acquire points that can be used to enter draws for various gift cards. Others have signed up their staff for group martial arts lessons or axe-throwing sessions on Groupon. Gory is happy to share these ideas with other clients, and sure enough there’s traction.

Apps can help manage business
Perhaps nobody loves technology more than Howard Kettner. The CEO and founder of BenefitsGenius.ca, he has about 150 apps on his phone— of which he uses up to 25 on a daily basis to help him manage myriad aspects of his professional and personal life. “And there’s nothing onerous about it,” he says.

From managing to-do lists, communicating with contractors halfway across the continent, absorbing the erudition of bulky books through a two-hour run, sharing his calendar with clients, lugging his office in his backpack, electronically sharing meeting notes even before people get to their cars — Kettner does it all with the click of a button. In most cases, $1.99 is all it costs him.

“For me, it’s not technology for technology’s sake,” he says. “I like the tools and outcomes it provides. It allows me a deeper connection with the people I want to be connected with.”

And when it comes to initiating clients to these tools, the key to success, Kettner says, lies not so much in introducing the tool, but in how you introduce it. “We may recommend great tools to our audience, only to find they’re using none of them. That’s because we mention them in a conversation or send them out as a link in an email, which may not get read.”

The most effective way to introduce a new technology or tool, he notes, is to sit down with the client – over lunch or in a meeting – and offer to walk them through installation. “A majority of this audience does not naturally gravitate toward new technology. Until you can make them understand how that tool or app will make them a better version of themselves, they will not use it,” Kettner notes.

There’s a rampant belief in the industry that robots could render many advisors’ roles redundant. That’s far from the truth, Kettner says. “It’s not B2B. It’s P2P – person to person. But you can only realistically maintain about 150 relationships (including family and friends). I think, technology, if properly used, can easily scale that significantly.”

Transcontinental Media G.P.