Uber has revolutionized the way that we get around town. No more having to call up your Yellow Cab number when you want to make it downtown for a game or a concert. Just pull out your phone, tap the Uber icon and select the type of ride you want and you are off.
In fact, Uber has been so successful that many companies now describe themselves as the “Uber of ____.” By saying this, they’re looking to imply that they are the convenient solution that also has adopted the “gig” economy for a particular industry. When you get to a point where people are using your company name to describe their company, then you have made it.
Although no one in the financial advisory space is calling themselves the Uber of ____ just yet, there are concrete lessons we can learn from the success of the billion-dollar startup.
Taking a step back, it’s valuable to take a look at what truly makes Uber unique. One could point to their proprietary technology or their product/market fit. Although both of these play an essential role in their dominance, for consumers, it’s driven by two simple ideas: transparency and confidence. As for advisors, we’d go along way in our neverending quest to build stronger relationships by adopting these two principles.
Transparency: Before a rider even decides they’re ready to be picked up by an uber, they’re able to see how much their trip will cost them and when they’ll be getting to their destination. After the rider indicates that they want to be picked up by an Uber, they’re immediately informed how long they’ll be waiting and who will be picking them up. Lastly, the rider can track their driver every step of the way. Make no mistake about it; this is what extreme transparency looks like.
Now, let’s compare this to the yellow cab days. We didn’t know where our cab was coming from and whether they would hit traffic on their way to our house. Without any tracking information, we had to give rough estimates on when we would be arriving at our destinations. And then the cost was dependent on the miles to go; we didn’t know how much we owed until we got to our final destination. Ultimately, a lot of unknowns were relieved by Uber.
Confidence – All of the uncertainty that we had with cabs were relieved when Uber came along. We even had a picture of our driver and the car we would be driving in. Transparency creates confidence and confidence builds long-term trust and adoption. When you think of things you aren’t confident in it tends to be because there is a lot of uncertainty. For example, If you were asked to go into a completely different profession tomorrow, you wouldn’t be too confident initially. But as you experienced things and got greater transparency into how the job worked, you would get more confident.
These two points are what makes Uber such a powerful application and a trusted application to so many people. We all tend to overlook the downsides of things with Uber because of these two principles. In reality, the idea of Uber is quite radical. Think about what we’re doing when we order an Uber. We’re essentially telling a stranger where we are and where we are going. Afterward, we get into a random car of a person we have never met and trust them to get us to another location. In some cases, we’re telling the Uber driver that we are now leaving our house and giving them the knowledge that our house is currently empty. But we routinely set all of this aside and get in the car and pay the fee.
As financial advisors, the beginning of the relationship is so crucial in building that trust for a long-term successful relationship. And this is why the onboarding process tends to take so much time. But what we can learn from Uber and look to implement into technology is a way to make the experience of onboarding more valuable and transparent to our clients.
But we also must find a way to make our life easier during the process.
Right now, onboarding is a manual process that is predicated on workflows built into our CRM that tell us to check on the status, follow up with the client, call to schedule a phone call to review the allocation, etc.
All of these are different tasks that are part of a workflow (and for some just as a checklist on a piece of paper.) Each of these tasks takes time not only to remember but to do. Doing so requires us to go in between multiple different sets of technology (email, CRM, custodian website, performance management system, etc.)
But Uber has taught us that we should try to be transparent from the beginning and throughout the entire tracking system. How can we look to automate the process or provide target dates for each step? As financial advisors, we have done transfers and new account openings hundreds of times and understand the process. We can use our experience to put an estimate on things, or we can use technology to do so. Technology that can help us by calculating what the average account opening is for each custodian and account type. And along the way, the technology can continuously keep the advisor updated on where they are within the status.
Transparency creates confidence; technology creates efficiencies. To continue building strong relationships and building more of them, we must leverage technology to help build even stronger trust and allow us to impact more lives.
In the end, we don’t want to be the Uber of financial advisors. We want to be ourselves with our own, unique value prop to our clients. But what we can do is to learn from Uber to make our firm the best version of itself and the most value to the client version as possible.