Enabling tech-savvy customers at any age: Meet Julien Abboud, financial advisor

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As a financial advisor, providing support and advice to customers with varying financial needs is common for Julien Abboud.

But what's unique about Abboud is that he spends most of his time helping those same customers—many of whom are seniors—learn to use technology comfortably so that they can better understand the digital tools available at their fingertips.

Abboud, who lives in Bedford, Nova Scotia, recalls one 65-year-old grandmother who was often worried that her grandchildren living in different provinces wouldn’t receive the cheques she mailed to them on special occasions, such as birthdays and graduations.

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To help ease her worrying, Abboud introduced her to online and mobile banking. It was a simple change, but for that customer, the peace of mind made all the difference.

“Using mobile banking for the first time was this eye-opening experience for her that made her life so much easier now that she didn’t have to worry about her loved ones receiving their gifts and on time," said Abboud, adding that helping seniors become digitally fluent also often reduces their need to visit the bank for every banking transaction.

"Imagine having to travel to the branch during a snowstorm just to pay a bill on time," he said. "For our customers with mobility issues, online or mobile banking can be a huge relief." Unpredictable weather is just one of the many stressors that Canadians have to deal with, and Abboud makes this point when explaining the value that digital banking brings for seniors.

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While simplifying the process for those going digital for the first time is one of Abboud's specialties, his method extends far beyond a standard formula. "The first and most important step is to understand a customer's lifestyle, how they spend their day, what their most important transactions are, and from there I look at how I can help them save some time."

To personalize the experience, Abboud encourages an assisted self-service experience – where customers are taught to use their own personal smartphones over a branch-owned iPad when trying out banking apps for the first time. This interactive experience helps customers understand how easy it can actually be to use a tool that they are already familiar with using.

"I want them to share their dreams, retirement plans—goals for the next five to 10 years with me," he said. "Creating that personal connection and trust means customers are more willing to discuss their financial plans. This then opens up the dialogue on how we can help make their dreams a reality."

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"While most individuals are willing to embrace online or mobile banking, some lifelong branch visitors are still hesitant to go digital."  For Abboud, the objective is to ensure that every customer feels at ease in every interaction they have with the bank.

"The end result is to have every customer, regardless of age, feel that their financial needs are continuously being met. And as digital continues to evolve and become even more prevalent in how we bank, it's important we never lose sight of that purpose."

Abboud believes in the power of having a human touch in every interaction, and knows that this approach is critical to truly delivering for his clients.

"I want customers to rely on me in a way they would with a friend. If that means helping a grandmother feel financially confident with sending money to her grandchildren, then I know I've done my job."