Insights from the Altfi webinar on 23 June 2022
Wealth Dynamix experts, Johnny Beloe and William Rouse, joined forces with Oliver Smith from Altfi and Wasim Khouri from Monument to share and compare insights into leveraging digital transformation within the wealth management industry.
As the group debated the forces driving the ‘digital tsunami’ in Wealth Management and best practices concerning the formulation of a water-tight business case, three key themes emerged.
INSIGHT 1: The client remains the King over technology disruption
The opening discussions highlighted the evolution of more personalised, customer-centric user experiences as wealth managers continue to fulfil a position akin to “investment counsellors”, available anytime, anywhere. William Rouse, Commercial Director at Wealth Dynamix, espoused the phrase “Show me you know me” as a useful summation of current customer sentiment. The development of tools for self-servicing, greater transparency of fees and a push for added value from the client-advisor relationship continue to empower the client. And the benchmarks just keep moving.
From a provider perspective, Wasim Khouri, Chief Strategy & Product Officer for Monument, disclosed a growing trend of customers seeking a frictionless and hyper-personalised user experience, time-saving digital tools and ready access to additional support, via phone or video, as a baseline minimum requirement. Exploring the topic of HNW client segmentation by lifecycle, he recognised that a time-starved parent would need more handholding or steering towards tools that save time vis a vis a customer nearing retirement who perhaps has more time to appraise their options, highlighting the need to understand the mindset and lifestyle of each customer.
Supporting the UX more smartly in this way is clearly client-centric and hyper-personalised, though the discussions underlined that the right technology can simultaneously deliver clearer prioritisation and profitability – key drivers of any business case for WealthTech CLM. Relationship Managers with the proper insight and system alerts related to client sentiment and behaviour, for example, will be automatically steered towards high-value clients who will deliver the best return for their time when a personal touch is required.
“While technology is advancing at pace, it’s important not to be swayed by the latest innovation, rushing to ‘do something’ can cost dearly in the longer term if it’s not well used, aligned to the needs of your client or supported by the wider technological infrastructure.”
When it comes to your business case, there is no one size fits all: the demographic of your client base, your position in the market and how your organisation views itself (i.e. market disrupter v traditionalist), combined with its vision for the future, will all combine to drive decision-making. Through understanding what is imperative for your organisation to achieve, a clear strategy will emerge that’s aligned to the distinct needs of your business. A deep understanding of your client base and its segmentation is critical to arriving at the optimal solution; jumping straight into the number crunching can result in a worst-case scenario – a seemingly erudite business case that steers the organisation towards a destination that lies in the entirely wrong direction.
“There is always going to be a nirvana to strive towards, but it’s important to serve the clients of today optimally before anticipating the needs of the clients of tomorrow.”
INSIGHT 2: A change programme is just as critical to success as the technology
As the webinar progressed, discussions focused more squarely on the business case process.
Given the complexity of digital transformation, there’s a trend toward technological solutions as the end goal. However, Johnny Beloe, Director of Pre-Sales for Wealth Dynamix was keen to point out that it’s much more helpful to view technology as “an enabler” – to more efficient ways of working, better client service or pain-free onboarding. Through this lens, it’s easy to see why business cases need to be driven by the business, with a holistic approach in mind, and not solely by the IT department – an approach which can be problematic and prone to setbacks or a lack of adoption upon delivery.
A combination of ‘People, Process and Technology’ (otherwise known as the PTT framework) is needed and it’s a mantra that is a good one for the whole team to remember – without any one of these three pillars your project will fall over.
At the business case stage, strategic intent, client centricity and business efficiency should be used to arrive at the right outcomes; teams in Front, Middle, Back Office, Marketing, Sales, Compliance and IT engaged; and a holistic internal change programme should be invested. Supported by a change team with the authority and autonomy to make decisions and effect change, your business case will have an improved chance of success.
Will the technology directly impact specific roles? Is a restructuring of the organisation or a particular department needed? And what are the broader knock-on impacts of your implementation? Are there plans in place to support roll-out, and what’s a realistic timescale for adoption? Failure to pose and answer such questions, thereby overlooking the necessary operational infrastructure of your business, will expose your business case to far greater risk.
“It does not matter how good the tech is…you are not going to realise its potential… if the business does not support a change programme with the level of maturity and weight that it deserves.”
INSIGHT 3: Every WealthTech CLM business case ultimately rests on its financials
The hour-long webinar demonstrated the many considerations today’s Wealth Management decision-makers are faced with. A business case for digital tools will only be transformative if it reflects the preferences of its client base, aids the informed actions of the advisor and drives efficiencies within or across the client lifecycle. And it’s clear that in the current environment of economic shocks and rising digital adoption, HNW clients are seeking tailored solutions and on-demand services, delivered by a financial institution that understands them.
The discussions illustrated that the Client Lifecycle Management business case is a gateway to new possibilities: Due diligence (ID&V, KYC and AML) in a fraction of the time, improved onboarding processes and greater insight into ESG or risk attitude, to mention a few. Yet, meeting these new benchmarks comes at a cost. It’s this, explicitly, that presents a fundamental challenge for firms – how to reconcile HNW clients’ expectations for “white-glove service” while effectively managing business margins. It’s a question that can only be answered via a thorough estimation of the associated benefits and costs during the generation of your business case, and ultimately, it’s the key factor upon which every business case hinges.
For guidance on the formulation of your business case including advice on the key metrics to use, see our free e-book, ‘Six Steps to Success’ and try our free online Benefits calculator, available here.