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Why your financial plan deserves a human touch

By ATB Wealth 30 May 2024 3 min read

From self-serve investing apps to financial planning platforms, financial technology has become an integral part of Canadians’ lives. But while these tools offer ease and efficiency, there’s something technology will never replicate.

“Human connection,” says Melissa Arenas, senior financial advisor at ATB Wealth. “AI can’t replace the human touch you have with an advisor because the client's life is not an algorithm.” 

Melissa Arenas, Senior Financial Advisor at ATB Wealth

She explains that the strategies advisors apply centre around the core values of the client, around their fears and aspirations, their families, and their future goals. While technology has changed the way that people access or receive financial advice, the value of advice grounded in real-life experience and expertise remains the same. 

“You can have numbers on a paper or screen, but when life happens, when the market crashes, or you lose a loved one, you lose your job, or have a baby—it’s that conversation with your advisor about how to pivot that makes the financial plan come to life.”

Since Melissa joined the financial industry 15 years ago, planning has always been at the centre of her practice. She compares financial planning to building a puzzle—first you need to visualize the end goal, or what financial success looks like, then you can arrange all the different pieces to bring it together.

“You can put everything into place, but the risk is that you won’t get the picture that you want. Without a financial plan, you don’t have direction, and lack of direction can lead to stress and uncertainty around money. You need to work backwards from the big picture.” 

A 2024 FP Canada study found that Canadians who seek assistance from a financial professional, specifically a financial planner, are less prone to money-related stress. Forty eight per cent of Canadians who do not work with a financial planner say that money is the top source of their stress, whereas only 36 per cent of Canadians who do work with one felt similarly. Canadians who use a financial planner are also significantly less likely to have lost sleep over financial worries (42%), compared to more than half (52%) of Canadians who do not.1

“It’s my belief that every client should have a financial plan,” says Arenas. “Plans are the centre of our relationship where the advisor adds value by understanding what’s important to the client, what success looks like, and what’s going to make them happy.”

While technology can’t replace a trusted advisor, Arenas says her planning is supported by digital tools, which helps her clients see their plan and how their money is doing in real time. Within a few minutes she is able to navigate around the tool to show them different strategies, and the outcomes for each one. 

As an example, a common question she gets from clients is, “When is the best time to take my CPP?”

“The technology we’re using helps me provide various scenarios in real time that the client can see and clearly understand. This allows me to spend more time on the conversation and human connection, and talk through what’s going to work the best for the client. The technology can crunch the numbers but I’m the one providing advice and ensuring that my clients have confidence and peace of mind at the end of the day.”

She adds that working for a firm that supports her with industry-leading technology and training has been a huge benefit to her practice—and ultimately her clients. 

“ATB really understands we are client focused and they want us to be that trusted advisor. Providing the tools and analysis backed by technology allows us to give the very best advice to our clients.”

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