In our ongoing look at how wealth management organizations are leveraging technology, data and practice management excellence to create hyper-personalized client experiences and improve client outcomes, I sat down with Ilan Davidovici, Principal, Client Experience, Edward Jones.
Ilan is certainly a "Thought Leader" in the financial services space but even more importantly, he's a "Do" leader. He shared with us how critical process, listening to clients and advisors and boiling things down to the "jobs to be done" at the client level, advisor level and home office level are to their success.
Ilan discusses how a nearly 100 year old firm with 19,000 financial advisors serving 7 million clients and over $1 trillion in assets goes about creating client experience consistency and how the most face-to-face, knee-to-knee firm known for their local presence (operating in 68% of all U.S. zip codes!) pivoted to a fully remote business in about 10 days and have continued to ramp up their digital capabilities and engagement.
Ilan also shares how, unencumbered as we are by geographical proximity these days, that has freed Edward Jones to focus more on matching advisors and clients based on client segmentation and market specialization, and the use of digital tools to help facilitate that process.
· What do clients want from us: know me, guide me and make it easy for me. [2:00]
· Start with the client experience you want to deliver, not the technology. [4:30]
· Client journey mapping [5:55]
· From data to actionable insights. [14:27]
· Taking a 98 year old firm fully remote in less than 10 days [18:28]
· Digital innovation: FA Matching Engine, Starting Point, Values Prioritizer. [20:50]
· Practice specialization / client matching. [25:55]
· Fostering communities. [28:42]
· AI in wealth management. [36:55]
Wealth Management v2.0: The AdviceTech Revolution, Episode 4
with Ilan Davidovici, Principal, Client Experience, Edward Jones
PODCAST TRANSCRIPT [00:00-07:53]
Gavin Spitzner (President, Wealth Consulting Partners, LLC):
Welcome to the “Wealth Management version 2.0, the AdviceTech Revolution” podcast, where I'm joined by Ilan Davidovici, head of client experience for Edward Jones. By way of background, there are a lot of podcasts out there…a lot of great ones focused on advisors helping advisors and FinTech. This one's a little bit different. We're focused on the business of the business, the business of advice. And, specifically, we study and celebrate firms that are leveraging the combination of technology and humanity to deliver better advice and better outcomes to more people. I call that the advice tech revolution, and Ilan you're on the front lines of that revolution. So I'm thrilled to have you here today.
Ilan Davidovici (Principal, Client Experience, Edward Jones):
It’s great to be here, Gavin. I love how you said it. It’s the combination of tech and human. And the reality is we're all making decisions every day about what that transformation includes, and I'm very interested to hear your questions.
Fantastic. So you head up client experience for Edward Jones, a firm with nearly 20,000 financial advisors serving over 7 million clients with over a trillion dollars. How do you even begin to think about client experience when you're servicing such a broad array of clients through such a diverse group of advisors?
It’s a good question, Gavin. And the reality is let's put that into context. The whole industry has been talking about client experience for a long time. So what does it even mean and why do we use it? And what's the value of it? Well, we start at the basics. You know, our clients are human, no matter how much money they have, where they come to us from, the decisions in front of them, they have core human needs. And when it comes to brands, whether they be in financial services or otherwise, they want pretty simple things. They want us to know them…they want us to guide them...and they want us to make it easy. They also want to be understood and informed eventually, and hopefully in control and secure, whether that be in their relationships or relative to their money or freedom from or freedom to the things that they deem to be most important in their lives.
We started by just defining client experience in our firm. What does it mean and what doesn't it mean? We started by saying client experience is everything that our clients see, hear and feel. It's pretty broad, it's pretty global and holistic at its core. We then further define client experience by saying it's the value that we seek to deliver to the world, aligned with the value that our clients are willing to pay for. And the intersection between… you could say, client experience -- is the commercialization engine of the firm. You could say that when you go around the strategic decisions of a firm and answer them -- who do we want to serve and how do we want to serve them? What tools do we need in order to serve them and what are our focus client groups and so on and so forth. The middle of that is the experience. And what we like to say is client experiences are what binds the products, services, and capabilities in a user journey that is valued and relevant to our clients and prospective clients.
Love it. I'm glad we're starting there because we know there's a whole lot of lip service being paid to client experience throughout the industry. So before we dive into the deep end and talk about digital transformation and big data and different initiatives that you're doing, I wanted to start with process. Because I've seen you speak in the past, we both spoke at Invent West -- I think it was last year, maybe it was two years ago. And you showed some examples of the process you use… you even talked about some of the ways that you've organized around client experience with your post-its and your client journey mapping. So I would love to start there because everything else comes out of process. It comes out of how we organize our firms to deliver great client experiences. So talk to us about your process at Edward Jones.
My initial comment to start answering this question, is that the quality of the technology or the quality of the people, process and technology that we deploy and the experience we seek to deliver is always relative to the quality of the questions that we ask. And so many firms at the end of the day, start by saying, what technology do we need rather than saying, what experience do we want to deliver and let that determine the people, process or technology that you configure or conform to solve for that experience outcome. We start by using what we call client experience mapping, journey mapping, similar to what others do, but we approach things from a holistic perspective. Let me define that -- not just holistic, let me start by saying human centered… human centered by going out to our clients and asking them, “What do you want? How do you want it?”
Isn’t that crazy? It's easier said than done because Edward Jones is no different than any other firm that we have a legacy perspective of asking our branches first, what do you want and how do you want it and that is incredibly important, but the main truth, the truth that pays our bills…the reason why we come to work every day are the clients that we serve and seek to serve. And, you know, clients, they vote with their wallet, they vote with their feet and they don't just vote in our industry. They choose to partner with firms that help them accomplish what they find most important and do so in a way that they feel known and guided. And that is just simple, one click and let's go. So for us, it's the client experience mapping process.
And we have four levels to that mapping that for us are incredibly important. It starts for us, the North Star is always the client jobs to be done. And the client jobs to be done are just the individual parts of what we call the client journey. And if the goal is to get clients from new clients to deeply served with all their assets with us, we break down the stages of that journey and then the actual jobs to be done. A good example of a job to be done would be schedule a client appointment. Scheduling the client appointment, we think of that as schedule the appointment, but the reality is there's 20 steps there. It's call your spouse and look at your calendar and gather documents and make a decision of what you want to actually do. And then have the actual appointment. For us it's easy. If you've got 12 steps in schedule an appointment, how do we make it nine? How do we make it seven? How do we make it three? How do we make it one?
That’s level one of the client experience. Level two is what we call branch and firm jobs to be done instead of what most firms do and what we do much of the time is say, how do we make this better for the branch or that better for the client or this better for the firm? We say, if our North Star is the client job to be done, the corollary is the branch job to be done that either makes that easier or not. And the corollary to that is the first job to be done. We're either aligning all of the things that we do in the delivery of the experience that our clients have, or we're not. Level three, to finish quickly this answer, level one is client journey jobs to be done. Level two is branch and firm jobs to be done, level three is what we call people, process and technology, service blueprinting. That's where you start to get into the question of the technology or the teams or the people you need to accomplish this experience delivery. And then the underpinning, the chassis upon which all of this sits are the capabilities, the experience capabilities that bring together client, branch, firm.
PODCAST TRANSCRIPT [07:54-27:30]
So how have you evolved the structured role in terms of how you organize around your ability to do what you just described? Because a lot of firms are just so siloed in terms of product, field sales and technology. Have you looked at the organization different ways?
It's an ongoing conversation. Gavin. It's a great, great question. We started by just establishing an experience team focused on the client. We are in the process of asking ourselves, how do we bring parts of the firm that are focused on other levels as we would call it of the map into potentially an organization or at least dotted line. Because at the end of the day, as I like to say, whether it's my team or the teams that we work with around the firm, we all come in every day with one goal in mind, which is to make the experience better for our clients. The reason we do that is because if we make the experience better, we're able to serve more clients and help them achieve what's most important to them. And at the same time help the firm achieve what's most important to them, to us. But in order to do that, if we're siloed internally, the experience our clients have will be siloed.
So we have to break down barriers. We have to break down organizational silos and functional silos. Whether we end up doing that overarchingly and moving people around, or just do it through the levels of the map and how we partner together on projects …at the end of the day, we're still getting a lot closer to delivering a holistic experience.
Right. So you can do this great work. You can map out what, at least in the lab looks like an ideal client journey. Ultimately though, you've got 19,000 advisors out there that are the intermediaries to deliver this experience, not on their own, right, you've got digital tools and we'll talk about that, but as the lead source and they've done business a certain way for, in many cases, decades. Talk to me about that process around getting them engaged in delivering that client experience and how do you empower them?
I'll continue throughout this conversation to come back to the client jobs to be done. Over the course of the last year we've had over a thousand conversations with clients, prospects, investors who are invested elsewhere and analogous people in other industries, as well as many, many of our branches, branches at different what we call PML levels. PML means practice management level. So new through 10. And you make a great point. At the end of the day we may in the future end up having different delivery channels, but today our primary delivery channel of all the advice we give is through our 19,000 plus financial advisors and the branches that are building their businesses to serve our clients.
But we applied the same design principles to our branches that we do to our clients, if this client job to be done and the journey that we want them to go on is going to be made better by this digital tool or that, or by bringing together ops and service and this collaboration tool, then, does this or does this not make the job better for our branches. We have the same legacy problems that every other wealth management firm does, which is the home office does what the home office does and branches have to translate that into their daily job. And they ask themselves basic questions. Who should I talk to today? Why should I talk to them? How will that help me grow my business? And how will it help me solve my client's problems? Our job has to be to make that easy for them to answer those questions. As with all things we're on a path to making that better. I wouldn't say we've arrived yet.
Let's build on that. So you've got a unique background coming from Salesforce. You ran the wealth management business. In terms of the advisor coming in every day and knowing who to talk to about what, how that client wants to interact with the firm. Talk to me about that and, and where you are in that evolution of …do you have the fabled single pane of glass? We’ll talk more about data, I think in a few minutes, but from a, from a data standpoint as well where are you with that, that process of advisors knowing when they come in, what does the day look like?
I throw a lot out there.
You did throw a lot out there. One of the things I'd love to say about Edward Jones is we have the best raw ingredients in the world, in any wealth management company globally. Having said that and having seen many of what exists, much of what exists out there, one of the raw ingredients that I think sets us apart is that we've always been -- we're in 68% of all zip codes in America and Canada -- which you can't replicate that anymore…wealth management is at its core, has always been focused on deep relationships at the advisor level. But, over the last 20 years with robos and everything that's happened, there's been a great disintermediation. We never done that where we've always been close to home. And the last thing I'll say on this point, which is the one that I was getting towards is that all 19,000 of our financial advisors are employees of Edward Jones.
So, we have an incredible.. it's an accelerator for us. We are all focused on the same mission. We're all focused on the same goal. It's not always easy to get there, but we know if we collectively work together better, we're going to be able to provide better advice. Now, where are we along that path? I think the firm has made a tremendous amount, a tremendous investment in technology and advisory tools over the last 20, 30 years. I think we still have a long way to go. I think it could be easier. I think we could guide our clients and our advisors better, and I think they could, our advisors deliver the experience that our clients have by and large in support, with the support of the digital tools that we create.
And that being said, I think data, you throw in data there and please guide me if I'm not answering the question, as you would hope, but you mentioned data in there and I think this is a really important point. I'll draw the distinction between where we are and where I think we need to go. I think there are five core capabilities when it comes to data. You’ve got to collect it, organize it, analyze it, and distribute it in order so that you can do the last one, which is as an order of importance about a million times more important than the first part, which is take action on it. And so we've done an okay job of collecting data. We are working hard on organizing it and analyzing it. And we put a lot of money and effort towards the organization and analyzing of our data. We distribute it as well, but what we've not yet done and where we need to turn the corner is make it easy for our advisors to know where to take action.
So yes, they know when they come in in the office, I'll end on this point…they know when they come into the office, which clients we think they should talk to and why they have a sense of the most important clients in their book of business as every financial advisor, does, they have a, they could get access to what's happening in the market and all the basic data you need to be able to run your, your shop. Have we made it easy for them to know that information and take action on it in a human and digital way? We can make progress.
Absolutely. From a client engagement standpoint, are you a believer in mapping out certain service level guidelines around….some firms say we're going to touch our A clients this many times this way ..B’s, C’s, et cetera. How do you think about that from a client touch standpoint?
That's a really good question. I wouldn't say that that's within the purview of the client experience team. We’ve got a large organization called branch development that focuses on those sorts of questions. We do have groups that focus on what we call the five step process or “know, say, do”.. basically what are the guidance, it truly is guidance because our financial advisors have the latitude to choose how to deploy and employ these tools. But the five step process would be our financial planning process. Know, say, do, would be the guidance around what you should know, what you should say, what you should do. But, I don't own that. And over time, our goal is actually to include that guidance in the same place where our advisors will hopefully be able to take that information and turn it into action.
So you mentioned Ilan…I think you said that Edward Jones is in 68% of zip codes, which is stunning. And Edward Jones is famous for being out on main street in a lot of towns where oftentimes you've been the only local advisors in those places. So why don't we use that as a pivot point to talk about our reality these past few months. So we're what four months in, so that dynamic of being out there in people's living rooms or clients or prospects coming into Edward Jones advisors’ offices …that's been shaken to its core. So talk to us about how that transition has been and maybe we use this as a jumping off point to talk about some of the things you've done around the digital side to engage clients. We've seen industry stats gallore about client use of portals, document vaults, obviously things like this -Zoom and WebEx and ways to engage. So, how has that gone? How did the advisor force react to that and how have you helped them from a capability standpoint?
We took a 98 year old firm and went fully remote in seven days, seven to 10 days, something like that. And Edward Jones is known for what you said. It's also known that we wore a tie in the home office and everybody came in and we had not gotten the message that the rest of the world had gotten, which is, Oh, you can also be really productive from home as well. For us. it's been a boon to productivity, to innovation, to delivering things, things that we would have talked about for months, perhaps even a year are happening in two or three or four weeks. An example of that is, what is the big question on the minds of running the business of advice? How do we manage, deepen and grow our current relationships, manage our current relationships, deepen our households and the share of wallet and grow new relationships.
For us, we focused heavily on that growth side, because as you may know at Edward Jones the way that we have gone out and sourced new clients is traditional. We knock on doors, we develop networks, we go into workplaces and we go into homes and we build relationships. We don't have a minimum. If you've got a $100, if you got $1,000, $100,000 or $1 million or much more, we want a relationship with you. We want it for the long term. But to do that in a pandemic world, we needed to be able to knock on doors digitally and virtually. So, as you mentioned, Zoom, two things that we didn't build, we bought… LinkedIn Sales Navigator and Smart Asset as a way to convert leads. I would say, of course the digital vault.
And, we have been working for the last year on a brand new, EdwardJones.com and app redesign. That app just happened to go live during the pandemic. Not because it was, we had scheduled that long before, but that's been fantastic for us, a lot of new functionality. We’ve also, we had been working for the last probably 18 months on a goals-based advice update and upgrade with our financial planning tools and the compliance overlays that were needed. So all that's gone live during this pandemic.
You know, it hasn't been easy for a lot of the advisors because it's a lot of change at a time where they’re already changing stuff. I'd say the three pieces of digital innovation that I'm most excited about, came directly out of the CX Lab are what we call Starting Point, FA Matching Engine and Values Prioritizer. Where did, how do we come up with these and why did we release them now?
One of the things we've heard since we started the CX functional capability and the CX Lab at Edward Jones has been…our clients and our prospective clients want to know what a sample relationship might be like. What does it feel like to work with Edward Jones? What sort of advice and guidance do you give? What do people like me… I'm 45. I've got X amount of money. I live in this area and I like to hunt in Wisconsin. (I don't for those listening. I've never hunted in my life, but I did grow up in Texas). For people like me, what does it look like?
Starting Point was the beginning of that conversation for us. We built a digital tool. It starts off as a questionnaire, it can actually be used in a lead management format, like think of it on Facebook. It can also be used in an initial conversation between a client or between a prospect and an advisor. And it helps you go through that conversation of who are you? Who do you want to be? What do you want this relationship to look like? And here's kind of some sample examples. So Starting Point then went into something that we've heard about for many years, what we call FA Matching Engine. It's the simple idea of, I want to work with a financial advisor that works with teachers. Or that works with farmers. We’ve heard for a long time that geographic location is not as important as it once was. And in a virtual climate, yes being close to home is important. But what if I want to work with somebody that lives in DC or San Bernardino, California or anywhere else.
FA Matching Engine is pretty cool. It's unique to us. We built it. We've got the algorithms in it. From the day that we turned it on, it's been wildly successful. We've been really proud of the FA Matching Engine. It's helping us take all the people that come to our digital properties, drive them through a few questions and deliver them to the advisors that can now start building the relationship.
And the final point that I'll make on this is what we call Values Prioritizer. It takes the same idea of Starting Point, which is a questionnaire, but it gets at a different question. It gets at the question of, okay, great, now I've decided to have a relationship. But now I need to convert my ideas, my goals, my vision of my future, and oh yeah, my values into the actual priorities that… how I prioritize my values and turn those into investments.
The best example of this is when we went out and did research, we were talking to a branch and we were talking to many clients. One client, I'm sorry, one advisor said to us, when they were going through this mock setup of Values Prioritizer with the client, they said, we had never talked to this client about charitable giving. And we didn't know that what was most important to them when they turn 65 was to make a large sizable financial contribution to a charity of their choice. And to be able to see that grow and make a difference over the rest of their lives. That completely changed the financial plan. And if you could apply that at scale to 7 million clients or those clients who choose to go through the Values Prioritizer process and talk with their advisors about it, I think we're going to help a lot of clients realize that that big house may or may not be what they want or the vacationing around the world, or that tightening the belt and investing more might actually get them where they want to go quicker. And so we're really excited about that.
Yeah, that's so important. And that's a part of planning I'm super excited about because so much of planning is just, there's an assumption that a client comes to you and they know exactly what their goals are. And then it's just math. Okay. Save this much. We'll put you into a portfolio that has this kind of risk return spectrum and probability. But I think providing those tools and helping advisors have those types of meaningful discussions at scale -- that's the key part -- and the ability to track that and then take that data – and to your point, turn it into actionable insight. All right, now I know this client, I know what matters to them. And frankly, I think it goes beyond just, so what's the investing or savings means to that end. It's, how do I create a great experience where I am a trusted advisor beyond just the math, where they look to me as a resource, as a…some firms are using the term life coach. Right, these are the things that matter. How can I deliver value in that way, personalized content and all of that.
So I like that. I want to go back. I was actually going to ask you about the FA matching notion. Because I think a lot of firms have realized …and there's been a bit of a push with the whole distancing that, hey, I can do this with clients wherever. More and more clients don't necessarily want to spend the time in the car anyway, even when things are back to normal, … if I can find ways to engage with them effectively, digitally. So the RIAs, I look to them and say many very successful RIAs have mastered this specialization, niche marketing, serving dental practices or pilots or Henrys (high earners not yet rich) or people going through divorce, …they become known for that. They can specialize and become an expert in that. And then centers of influence are going to give you referrals. So that I think is very much the wave of the future. And, if you can apply that at scale, across an enterprise, as large as Edward Jones, you've got, I'm sure it's been an interesting process for you from an advisor and brand standpoint, unlocking that knowledge of who has what type types of expertise, who is a better match? Spend a minute on that in terms of how you match... obviously it goes beyond affluence level, investable assets…what are some other attributes or ways you think about what would be a good match?
PODCAST TRANSCRIPT [27:31-43:16]
Before I answer that question, let me double click on the idea of personalization and hyper-personalization for a second. When we think about clients, we think about them across this broad relationship journey that we hope that they have with us. We break that into five life cycle stages, which are: Evaluate -- when you're evaluating whether to even be in the wealth management industry; Explore -- now you've chosen to be in it, but you want to explore the firms you want to partner with, hopefully us; Connect -- when you become a client; Partner, now you're deepening the relationship and Extend out into retirement and so on. And we have the three things that I mentioned to you Starting Point, FA Matching Engine and Values Prioritizer are 3 of about 45 different concepts that we're working on at different stages of fidelity. And they’re all across the moments that matter of those client life cycle stages, depending on where the industry goes, where, where we choose to double down, we've got low fidelity concepts that we could bring it to life.
FA Matching Engine, for us, we think that, that's not going away. We didn't build, we didn't choose to build that now, just because of the pandemic. We think that in the future, behavioral attributes, attitudinal attributes, communal attributes, the whole concept of what is a community is being redefined. And it has been being redefined for a long, long time. We can spend an hour on this topic of community. We think that the notion of community is going to be incredibly important in the future. The idea that, here's just one idea. I haven't even gotten to the answer about FA Matching Engine, but if you think about all of the retired Edward Jones associates from the last 10, 15 years that are in later stages of life and how many people need financial literacy, could we develop a community of people who have information and something to give with people who want to learn?
I love it.
I mean, we're just talking about that as one of many different concepts. People want and need community. They need, they want to feel loved. They want to feel connected. They want to feel important. They want to feel like they're a part of something larger than themselves. And sometimes the example I like to use is you may live in Miami, but you like to hunt in Wisconsin. And sometimes that's about, equality and diversity and inclusion. Who knows what it's about. The sky is the limit in terms of how deeply we can get into allowing our advisors to determine who they are and who they want to serve. We can't determine that for them, but we can certainly give them the opportunity to say, hey, I like to hunt in Wisconsin. And why Gavin, I keep going to that, I do not know why. It just keeps coming up to my mind. So if you like hunting in Wisconsin and there's 10,000 people in America that do, but they live across the States, maybe that's your determinant for how you choose to invest your money.
For us the algorithm for building out this FA Matching Engine for us started with… I don't know what the number is, a hundred different data points on our clients. Our FAs are only able to take action on a small number of them, but the more we can capture the better. The second part of it is allowing our FAs to put in as much as they want about themselves, which for us, I'll end up at this point, Gavin, you know, we've got 19,000 plus financial advisors, every one of which has a website. I would probably be lying if I told you that those websites looked really different six months ago from one another. But, this has allowed us.. we've integrated those advisor websites into the FA matching process. It's an incentive for the advisor to make themselves as unique as possible and double down on what we've done for a long, long time, which is always have a niche. Know who you want to serve, get really good at serving those folks and build your community and network.
Yeah, it shocks me how poor a lot of those – not Edward Jones specifically -- but just in the industry….the use of profiles on social media.. .the research is clear. And especially as you look at younger clients and prospects, they're doing their research before they ever talked to you. By the time they're talking to you, they're probably fairly sold on you. They're not going to invest their time, if not. So that plays such a big role. And that's where I see some really good things happening now around the use of video… ways to show off your personality and who you are a good match for, so people can find you. And that's the power of digital and technology to help get that out in en masse.
Before you even ask the next question, in today's world it's possible to know who is exploring, and who's evaluating just by listening. You know, cookies were invented a long time ago. The idea that we're listening to who's digitally all over your site. There's only three places you need to go -- your own digital properties, third party digital properties, which are becoming less important, given privacy laws and social, right? And so we are, we're choosing to double down on our own digital properties, making them as valuable and relevant as possible, no matter where you are along that journey. And number two social. And if we could listen to those two areas and translate what we learn, the insights that we learn there, the behaviors, the attitudes, the conversations, the community development, the trends they're into what the advisor sees when they come in in the morning. We're not there yet, but that's certainly on our roadmap. If 50,000 people talk about life insurance or protection yesterday, shouldn't there be 50,000 opportunities to pick up the phone and talk to those clients tomorrow? That's how we're thinking about the future.
Listening. I mean, it goes back to what you talked about at the beginning around the client interviews, the research you do. Firms that figure out how to listen effectively at scale and turn that data into actionable insights for the firm and for the advisor, they're going to have such an advantage. And I'm with you a hundred percent on the notion of community. I think that it's a huge opportunity for advisory firms and advisors, to look at their roles differently and fill a need. I'm part of this industry initiative called Next Chapter, which is with MMI, FA Magazine, and The Execution Project, along with Steve Gresham…it's focused on helping advisors and advisory firms focus on the needs of retirees and think about not just the traditional accumulation phases of the business, but decumulation and all the issues around managing retirement beyond the investing side.
This notion of community has been coming up and how the industry and players within it can contribute to that. It's massive and it's not just community in the physical sense, but this type of community where you can engage with people, regardless of geography about things that matter to them.
Let’s see, maybe we'll go lightning round with the last couple of minutes. You talked a little bit about lead gen, conversion.. from an onboarding standpoint, working in a completely remote environment, anything that you've brought online or anything that's in the lab now?
We have three things going on there. Something we call VBE virtual business enablement, which is just the simple idea of, can we turn it virtual and how quickly and in support of what ends? That came out of our BCP work that everybody was focused on. How do we just create business continuity in a world that…you know, we're not back… nobody's back yet, you know, 5% of our.. that need to be, but we don't expect to be back until next year. Maybe all of 10 or 15% will go back before that.
So together with the BCP and the VBE efforts, you know, no wealth management podcast is complete without a couple of acronyms thrown around. So BCP, VBE. We also have what we call war on paper, which has been going on, it’s probably my least favorite term of a program that's happening, but the ends are good.
How do we make things more digital because people want to work that way anyways. And then specifically a digital vault is a very good example. We've been working on that before the pandemic. We prioritized it when we got to the pandemic. This is together with our new edward jones.com online access and our new online app. How do we make that digital vault as easy to use as possible so they could upload documents, share information, have transparency into the process. Know what you need to do and know what other people need to do. Yeah, lightning round, that's my answer there.
Alright. AI…you said acronyms, so I'll give you back an acronym, AI…and machine learning. We're very early stages, but, I'm certainly excited about the opportunity around exactly what you said before about turning the data into actionable insights is a million times more important than all the other parts of gathering that, so what are your thoughts around the future of AI as it relates to exactly that?
I think of AI as helping you glean insights where you didn't know they were there in order to be able to glean insights, you’ve got to gather data, organize it and analyze it. And we've got a multiyear effort on the organizational side, we've got a multiyear effort on the analytics side, we do a great job, Edward Jones does a great job in taking disparate sources of data, gleaning insights out of them. But AI is no different than any other data, which is if you don't take action on it, what's the point? So, when we think about the use of AI and the best algorithms, we think about it at the engagement level and at the operations level. If we can glean insights, turn it around in the engagement level, give it back to the FA or whoever's serving our clients, give them the ability to take action with confidence. That's great. That would also contribute to the operation operating the firm level data, to be able to say, what should we focus on? Why should we focus on it? What are the KPI levers that we should or could pull that might make a measurable difference? That's how we would think of using it.
And it goes back to what you said early on. It's only as good as the questions you ask. And I tell my consulting clients, it's not magic. It's not like you sprinkle a little AI dust on the data and everything just appears. You have to think about what questions you want to ask and oftentimes it's a lot of what an advisor would do if they had endless time to spend on one client and they had all the data points in the world about that client, transactional data, unstructured, but then doing that at scale. So how, in terms of coming up with the right questions to pose, to drive those use cases, can you spend a second on that?
I use an example to highlight that point all the time internally, which is, every FA who's successful knows in their gut when something changes about their top 10 clients, their top 50 clients… they're not calling as much…they talked about investing more, but they didn't. Something changes and it could be, it could be miniscule. I think the number one, I shouldn't say the number one, the use case that I love to go to is if you're truly listening to your clients and prospects, it's possible to know who didn't respond to this email, who didn't respond to this text, who hasn't had a client meeting in a number of months, whatever the factors are and frankly, interactions and touch points…there are a hundred different flavors of them. I would want AI to listen, digitally listen to all of the behaviors of our clients and our advisors and say, hey, this client is a potential churn risk because something's changed in the last three months. When I shared that with group of our top advisors, they said, ah, you're telling me that AI or this platform could tell us what we know in our gut about our top 10 clients, we could know about our entire book. I said, absolutely.
That's a great way to look at it. Alright, last question in lightening round, you talked about applying a lens of what client jobs are there to do. So as you look ahead, what client jobs do you think we're not tackling at all, or we're really doing a poor job of …what types of areas are you thinking about over the next…let's say a little longer range, 5 to 10 years? I know you're like here and now, what are we going to do tomorrow? But think big picture for a second.
Well, I'm so focused on what we're doing here at Edward Jones. And I think that the best raw ingredients at the industry and a great opportunity to transform and put those into place in a way that drives our growth, how we manage and how we deepen for a long time to come. I think a lot of what we've talked about…We're going to implement AI. We're going to make our portals better. We're going to develop deeper communities. We're going to make things simpler. We're going to make things easier. We're going to ask ourselves the big strategic questions… we already are… around are these the service models by which our clients want to be served? Are these the ways in which our clients want to be served? Are there things that we've thought about that our clients have thought about more… sustainable investing in ESGs?
And as client experience, I don't get into the product side, the financial product side of things… I don't get into it that much, but what we do talk about a lot is what are the service groupings -- I'll call it that -- that people want? I know in my personal life, I need an estate planning attorney and a CPA and a financial advisor and a life insurance agent. I know that I want human relationships at the core served by digital channels. It's no different than what anybody else is talking about, but the flavor that Edward Jones brings to it doubling down on the core of what 98 years ago was a truly innovative idea, which is we're going to be close to your home, having a deep human connection and helping you accomplish what you want without limits, without minimums, just based on you and me talking.
And our industry, I think has gone through a big rubber banding over the last year or two, which is robo robo, robo, AI,AI, AI and blockchain, blockchain, blockchain. At the end of the day, we're humans, we want to be served in a human way and the better we do that together, the more successful we’re going to be.
That's a great way to end it. I think that's a good wrap. Now, I've never hunted either, but I think maybe sometime in the future, we're going to Wisconsin together. We're going to check this out.
You’re on Gavin.
Ilan, thank you so much for the time. I really enjoyed it and we’ll talk again. Thank you.