Information and Interpretation

Information and Interpretation

In the financial industry, we talk all the time about improving overall client experience. Inevitably, this conversation turns to technology and how to make it easier to purchase our products. Yet adoption is often slow for several reasons, the least of which is the inability to shorten the process, even with electronic order entry.

But there’s one thing that isn’t being discussed enough: the ability of the consumer to level the playing field through technology.

I’m not talking about the customer’s ability to go online and complete their own financial plan or research us as financial planners. The real equalization of the client-advisor relationship is the ability to obtain limitless information online. Returns, allocations, expenses, investment styles ― all of these are readily available to consumers before the first conversation takes place with the advisor.

So how do advisors add value in the information age? Simple. Financial planners interpret the mound of information. We bring value to the customer by making sense of all the data. It’s critical that the financial community recognizes this change in our society and adapts to the ways people access information.

Recently, I talked with Gabrielle Bosché on my Winning Strategies podcast. Gabrielle is an expert on millennials and spoke about how millennials were taught to access information in school. Their entire education centered around standardized testing, learning through video and interaction, and how to find information. Our clients will eventually become ― or already are ― the same way. With technology, clients can access any piece of information in seconds, yet we continue to see behavioral tendencies that prevent most Americans from having a successful retirement. The reason is a lack of good interpretation.

Interpreting information is a major shift in our roles. For years, we believed that by providing information, we make ourselves different. But our value isn’t in education, information or our ability to research. Instead, our value to customers lies in our ability to distill vast amounts of information and data into a meaningful conversation. We must weed through the minutiae and prioritize the relevant information. Our value manifests itself when we help change a client’s behavior to make informed decisions in a way that improves the probability of retirement success.

It’s easy to get information. It takes talent to change behavior. The bridge is the ability to interpret. When we show our clients the way to retirement success and position ourselves as a guide, that’s when we make meaningful changes in our clients’ retirement.

Winning Strategy: Think about how well you interpret the information your client already has access to through technology. Interpretation will be the new differentiation.

About the Author
Mike McGlothlin is a team leader, retirement industry activist and disciple of Indiana Hoosier basketball. In addition to being EVP of retirement at Ash Brokerage, he is a sought-after writer and speaker. His web series, “Winning Strategies,” provides insight and motivation for financial advisors in many forms – blogs, books, videos, podcasts and more. His latest book, “Free Throw for Financial Professionals,” is available now – learn more at