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Trusted Financial Advisor: Kick It Up a Notch

Insurers must be prepared-technologically and culturally-to give customers access to both live and virtual advisors.

Q: How do you define the trusted financial advisor in the new e-world?

A: Rick Bender, acting president, Fusura, (Wilmington, DE): The e-world represents choice and convenience. The consumer will desire access to a financial advisor in both "virtual" and "live" formats. Given a robust advice facility combined with an artificial intelligence capability, the virtual advisor can answer a high percentage of the consumer's inquiries in a comprehensive manner. But, for the foreseeable fu-ture, the consumer will still require access to a live advisor either electronically (e-mail/chat) or through voice.

A: Nancy McCarthy, vice president and director, National Financial Services Practice, CSC (Boston): A trusted financial advisor, even in the e-world, is the individual who is responsible for one's total account aggregation. The e-world has provided a low-cost channel of information to complement trusted advisor services. It allows the service provider to relieve advisors of many "information-only" tasks, for the segment of clients inclined to self service. The Web alone, as a channel, will never build a trusted advisor relationship.

A: Marc Surplus, vice president of financial services, Trilogy Financial Services (Austin, TX): All of these customer touchpoints empower insurers to transform their agents into financial advisors. The trusted financial advisor is the personal client representative, delivering high-value-added advice and services to individuals who want to consolidate and optimize their financial relationships.

A: Mark Cyphert, partner, Deloitte Consulting, partner, Financial Services Practice (Chicago): The financial advisor will be required to offer a broad range of products and services. The offerings could be through partnerships, or in a few cases provided directly by the advisor's company. The future model for financial advisor is likely to be a composite of several traditional models and new online services. Levels of service will vary based on customer need and sophistication.

Peggy Bresnick Kendler has been a writer for 30 years. She has worked as an editor, publicist and school district technology coordinator. During the past decade, Bresnick Kendler has worked for UBM TechWeb on special financialservices technology-centered ... View Full Bio

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