The happenings of the past 18 months had remarkable consequences on how wealth firms manage their digital tools, and inevitably led to overly rethink the relevance of customer experience to remain competitive and reliable in clients’ mind.

The wealth management industry, indeed, is built on relationships; as such, delivering the right balance of high-touch, high-tech customer experience is critically important to the longevity and prosperity of the client relationship.

Across the industry, accordingly, referrals remain the dominant source of new clients. Compeer data shows that in 2020 46% of new business was sourced from referrals.

Covid-19 inevitably accelerated customers’ need for financial services to become more and more digitally-enabled, so boosting digital presence will no longer be an option. No longer solely reliant on investment performance alone to attract new clients, the strength of the digital toolkit will play a key role in the attraction and retention of clients.

 

Wow moments in a frictionless client journey

According to Celent’s report Wealth Management Technology Forecast 2020–2023, the majority of prioritised investments that will further see an accelerated adopiton are all client-related: digital onboarding capabilities, engines to personalise investment recommendations, data and analytics, applications of AI and ML, such as for chatbot and voice assistants.

A key takeaway from engaging in a remote-only wealth management experience was the realisation that the client journey was an area of improvement for many financial institutions.

Starting from the client portal, although all of the firms currently offer it, which is the very minimum digital entry point for investors, capabilities of the portal varies greatly between firms.

Compeer research “Setting the Digital Agenda for the Next Normal” commissioned by Objectway, a Global Top 100 fintech provider in the Digital Wealth and Asset Management software, shows that investor portals are often limited by view-only functionality.

SFirms are looking to integrate onboarding into the portal to significantly speed up the time taken to do so for each client.

Developing a more interactive investor portal can allow clients to update their data ahead of suitability reviews to track changes and tailor investment proposals to their needs.

In times of heightened uncertainty, clients want information and reassurance. Real-time remote collaboration across all channels and devices through video-chat, co-browsing, instant messaging can offer an optimised digital investment experience.

Digitising the reporting process can further improve service personalisation and process efficiency.

Finally, capturing data across the entire client journey can enable the building blocks for a truly unique and personalised experience for each client.

All these digital tools enable the opportunity to generate a “wow moment”, positively influencing the experience of the client: simpler access and instant delivery of investment information, personalised and on-demand reporting, customised portfolio recommendations, timely and specific interactions relevant to clients’ life.

 

Engagement at centre stage

When discussing client engagement, the main concern for firms is the challenge of building the same level of relationship and trust with clients digitally that can be achieved in person.

However, despite this, data shows that annual client inflows for wealth managers in the UK were up to £123bn in 2020, from £112bn in 2019, while asset outflows were down from £86bn in 2019 to £72bn in 2020.

Despite the recent increase in demand for face to face meetings from clients due to the progressive loosening of social distancing measures, firms are expecting to continue delivering and enriching their digital wealth services, finding the right balance between traditional and digital services based on each client’s preferences.

According to various market analysts, wealth managers have been placing an emphasis on identifying and replacing non-value-add processes with outsourced services or automated processes. The goal is to free up advisers’ time so that they can engage with clients in the way that clients want to and on topics that matter to them; the hyper-personalization of client services is a fundamental component of tomorrow’s successful engaging relationship.

 

Data it’s the new gold

Drawing value from client’s data to drive decision making and build a hyper-personalised service is expected to be the further step of an effective digital strategy. There is no doubt over the potential of Artificial Intelligence to do so.

However, there is still a lot of room for improvement in this area, as only 25% of wealth firms were able to use data analytics in a meaningful way to personalise customer experiences.

Managing wealth is easier than managing experiences. Making the client feel good is fine, but making the client feel uniquely undersood, valued and cared for, it’s the ultimate experience achievable by strategic planning and investments.

Deep insight into each client requires analytic capabilities and the use of data. Translating such insight into differentiated interactions should not be left to chance.

Data science, ML and deep learning-based AI can differentiate these experiences according to countless variables in real time. Wealth Managers can have at their fingertips predictive and prescriptive analytics about next best actions and offers to present.

As the rate of digital change picks up pace, it will be interesting to see how much wealth firms will be able to personalise customer experience to stand out of the crowd in the market and generate a competitive advantage.

The strength of a seamless, engaging digital customer experience will play a key role in the attraction and retention of clients, while a poor client journey will run the risk of loosing out on new business.

This issue will be especially prevalent in strategies focusing on attracting the next generation of clients. Whether firms are looking to attract new, younger and digitally-savvy clients or maintain the relationship with the heirs of the existing ones, their digital experience offering could be a dealbreaker.

To find out more, download the full research paper.