Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, client portal producer Myprosperity has seen a shift away from clients accessing client portals over computer web browsers to smartphone apps.
Speaking at Class Ignite on Thursday in Sydney, Myprosperity head of sales Aris Liacopoulos said prior to COVID-19, only 30 per cent of Myprosperity’s client base used its portal through its app.
“This shifted dramatically after COVID-19,” he said.
According to the firm’s internal client usage data, roughly 30 per cent of clients are now using the portal by logging into the browser, with 70 per cent preferring the app.
“That’s how they’re getting their documents; that’s how they’re communicating with their accountant,” Liacopoulos said.
He added there has been a 605 per cent growth in secure document uploads from March 2020 to August 2023.
“I’m not talking about emails with attachments – I’m talking about accountants and advisers uploading documentation to a secure client portal for their clients to access,” he said.
“This is a huge, massive shift in behaviour.”
Liacopoulos was not surprised when he saw these statistics, however. Rather, he found them “compelling”.
“More and more people are looking at how to collaborate with their clients more securely and have a digitised experience.”
The increase in technology usage during the first waves of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as better integration between platforms and software providers, has led to increased profit margins for better-run advice practices, according to recent research from Investment Trends. This is despite much of the industry being slow to adapt to new technological options.
Myprosperity was acquired by HUB24 earlier this with CEO Andrew Alcock seeing the opportunity in adding further services to the platform.
The use of client portals has become a more secure communication method for professionals, as opposed to traditional means, such as emails.
Because the way in which clients like to engage has shifted over the years, it is paramount for businesses to harness technology to improve client engagement and understand the ‘why’ and ‘how’ behind it.
Liacopoulos said this can be a challenging endeavour, explaining that one business recently embarked on a journey with new software and faced various hurdles, from implementation issues to internal resistance and client adoption challenges.
“They came to us [Myprosperity] and said, ‘guys, the software is great, but we’re struggling over here’,” Liacopoulos said.
“We went under the hood and said, ‘Okay, let’s go back to basics. Why are you guys doing this? What’s the why here?’ Then, after a nice little workshop, we started to jot down the reasons why they needed to improve their client engagement, because technology was the ‘how’.”
Ideally, the business wanted to reduce the risk of privacy breaches, streamline communication methods, elevate the digital client experience, and find a point of difference in the market.
The business simply wanted to “keep ahead of the curve” and “do something different from the accountant down the road”, Liacopoulos said.
“It wanted an app clients could load up documents securely to. Additionally, if clients wanted to receive a document from their accountant, they did not have to fire up their computer to access it – they could simply get it on their phone.”
Liacopoulos said the owners went back and re-educated their staff which led to a light bulb moment where the employees begun to understand why this implementation was necessary.
Simplify and secure
In a world increasingly dominated by concerns over data security, Liacopoulos believes that it can be simplified and made more accessible via online portals and apps.
“Just open up your phone, download the app, access the secure client portal, and you don’t have to worry about it,” he said.
“All your communication is stored securely there. Your data is stored in Australia, not offshore; it’s not going anywhere else.”
Liacopoulos recalled an instance when his solicitor asked him to drive two hours to his office in Victoria to sign a document in person.
“I said, ‘Harry, I’m not driving two hours to Mornington in Victoria to simply sign a document, you have to find a better way and a more secure way for me to do that,” he said.
“Now I’ve got him on this journey of trying to find a portal [that reduces the process to a couple of clicks] for his business.”
Liacopoulos encouraged individuals and businesses to re-think their traditional approaches to data security and move towards more intuitive and secure solutions.