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A battle plan to win on Customer Experience

3rd April 2023 – The importance of customer experience has grown dramatically over the past five years, with a shift in a quest to retain existing clients and attract new ones. Wealth & Investment Managers know this and now are acting on it. Read more about it with Hassan Suffyan, Objectway Managing Director UK & Ireland last interview for the Winter Pimfa Journal 2023.

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The importance of customer experience has grown dramatically over the past five years, with a shift in a quest to retain existing clients and attract new ones. On one side, it is much in demand by clients expecting to have their services and products easily accessible and to receive personalised and tailored advice from their wealth manager; on the other, wealth managers themselves want to differentiate from competition to capture a greater share of wallet and benefit from referrals.

Although wealth management has always relied heavily on being a bespoke service mainly delivered in person, things have changed. The expectation is that financial advice will be delivered not just via the relationship with the wealth manager, but also through the quality and the content of digital interactions.

Let’s think about the investor portal. Suppose a client has mentioned to the wealth manager that they have a particular interest in, say, carbon-neutral investments. In that case, they now expect to see interesting content within the client portal. They might also want to see a list of coherent investment strategies and vehicles together with some performance data. To enhance the overall experience, a dynamic portal should enable effective advice to make recommendations based on the client’s preferences and constraints, using augmented intelligence and algorithms to design an optimised investment proposal.

The nature of the actual communication with the adviser is also critical to the customer experience. A personalised portal can create a ‘wow’ moment with the customer. If they can then act quickly by having access to the adviser over the channel of their choice and at their preferred time, then that consolidates the wow factor. It is also important to remember that an omni-opti-channel does not mean factoring out face to- face contact. Having the choice over how and when to contact the adviser just deepens the relationship and makes it more likely that the number of touchpoints will go up, thus making the face-to-face more beneficial and informed when it does happen.

That’s why most wealth managers are aiming to improve their hybrid operating model. Face-to-face and remote are not mutually exclusive. Obviously, for some things, a client just wants to log on and check something out; for others, they need a face-to-face in-depth meeting.

Customer Experience and the ability to scale

This all contributes to the excellence of customer experience, but it also drives efficiency and scale. If the wealth managers have a dynamic system to strengthen client relationship through integrated digital capabilities, they are able to deal with a greater number of clients and thus concentrate on their core business doing more in less time, adding scale through efficiency.

Indeed, scale is the second part of the equation – it is no use being able to attract and retain clients if the cost to serve remains sky-high. So too, does the ability to procure and treat data at the back end so that it is fit for purpose at the front, delivering customer experience and the ability to scale. Firms need to be sure that they have true front-to-back integration to win the battle for customer experience and scalability.

Objectway’s research with financial firms’ senior executives identifies that wealth managers know all of this, as improving the customer experience is at the very top of their agenda. So, it is no surprise that seven out of 10 firms are looking to invest in their digital estate.

Digital change is massively driven by customer experience, digitisation not only enhances it, but also makes for operation automation and efficiency too. This makes for better business as having a good customer experience makes for retention, greater share of wallet, and referrals.

To give some examples, specifically to what extent technological change is having an impact on customer experience and what can be achieved via a customer centric approach, one of our wealth manager clients upped their digital engagement (as measured by how often the client logged in) from 25% to 60% within 12 months of investing in joined-up and digital technology.

For another client, investing in technology to enhance the customer experience meant increasing its Assets Under Management (AUM) by 25% due to new client growth, along with share of wallet and referrals. Front office productivity also boomed, with advisers managing some 20% more clients than previously due to efficiency gains.

For wealth managers, the next few years need to be about the evolution to a client-led enterprise. Firms must overcome cultural and adviser inertia to prepare for a new generation of clients while not abandoning their core constituency. According to several market studies, in fact, digital-first applies to all segments of clients. Regardless of AUM, they will ask to pick and choose different modules of advice, products, and services to create their own personalised experience. So, the client-led enterprise has to be enabled by technology. Digital solutions will form the base layer to cater to more traditional, higher wealth clients, who increasingly expect enhanced digital experiences along with traditional human-led bespoke service offerings, along with a digital-native younger generation of clients inheriting wealth.