Bespoke Financial Advice Is Possible: Brokerages Look to Improve Advisor Search Tools

by on Mar 15, 2017

While most financial advisor search tools fail to differentiate themselves or innovate, some brokerage firms are pushing that status quo. As recently as this past month, firms like Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley have updated their advisor search tools to better integrate third-party technology and address customers’ specific financial needs, setting a new standard for how brokerage firms can stand out from the crowd and appeal to current and prospective clients alike.

Merrill Lynch’s Find a Financial Advisor tool now lets users select to sign in with LinkedIn and be automatically redirected to the social media outlet. From there, users can enter their LinkedIn credentials to gain access to the Merrill Lynch advisors they have mutual connections with. This unique and interesting feature is especially useful for new investors who may want to discuss the daunting topic of money and investing with an advisor with whom they share commonalities (or common friends and acquaintances). The capability also provides links to the advisors’ dedicated public site professional profiles, thus giving users a good look into their backgrounds, interests and experience. Like word of mouth of the digital age, Merrill’s new functionality aims to connect clients with advisors they can trust.

Merrill Lynch Find an Advisor with LinkedIn Tool

Morgan Stanley is also raising the bar, having recently added an Investment Needs dropdown menu to its embedded Find an Advisor tool within the public site Wealth Management section. Users can now select one of 15 investment options, such as Tax Planning or Internationally Based Investor/Family, to be paired with advisors that specialize in the potential investor’s specific needs. Users can then view the different advisors’ websites or call them directly to learn more. The new filter functionality lets investors drill down search results for more targeted, tailored options.

Morgan Stanley Find an Advisor Tool Investment Needs Dropdown

These new offerings are a great example of how brokerages can innovate to provide users with the best possible experience and set them up with an advisor that’s right for them. With the rise of robo-advising services on one end of the spectrum, the demand for trustworthy and specialized financial advisors on the other end will surge as well. As more firms revisit their standard tools and explore new technologies, they’ll be in a better position to encourage potential investors to take the plunge into the investing world.