Spotlight on… EY

Wealth management firms are at a critical juncture. Margins are at the lowest in a decade, while the coronavirus pandemic has exposed flaws in traditional business models and tested those that have been slow to adopt digital services. Against that backdrop, wealth managers face an urgent need to modernise by embracing technology so they can serve clients more efficiently and help boost revenues.

In a recent webinar, we spoke to Thierry Grouès, Associate Partner and EMEIA Wealth Management Transformation Lead at EY, to discuss digital transformation and innovation in the wealth management industry and what all of that means for the future role of relationship managers.

Here are three key takeaways from the conversation…

1. Changing roles

As firms move towards a more digital business model, the role of the relationship manager is going to evolve. The entry point for new clients will no longer necessarily be through the relationship manager but via digital acquisition channels instead. In this digital model, the relationship manager will play a key role in managing client interactions across a firm’s overall ecosystem of investment experts, digital communication channels and other client solutions, providing a layer of reassurance for the client that there is always a human just one click away.

The shift to digital also means the number of touch points between the client and relationship manager will increase, underscored by the growing prevalence of video conferencing tools and mobile messaging apps. The former means the relationship can remain face-to-face, even if it is not in a physical setting, while the latter can help speed up communications and ensure managers can respond swiftly to client requests or engage in a more convenient way.

2. Digital innovation

The use of technology can help firms gather a richer set of client data, empowering relationship managers to proactively push the right products at the right time, increasing potential success rates. But it is emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning that can really help wealth managers unlock the value of their client data, for instance by providing a hyper-personalised service where investment solutions are optimised for a clients’ particular risk appetite and broader financial goals. By more accurately matching products to a client’s specific investment needs, firms can reassure clients that their accounts are being managed in a tailored, individual way.

It is also important to note that while AI has the potential to be transformative for the wealth management industry, it is not seeking to replace the role of humans. By capturing and analysing a greater breadth and depth of data, AI can not only help managers make more informed decisions, but it can also help them arrive at those decisions more rapidly.

3. Cultural shift

Investing in technology is not going to deliver success on its own—wealth management firms first need to ensure they have buy-in from all stakeholders across the business. Digital transformation, therefore, is not just about replacing manual tasks with automated processes, it is also about transforming mindsets. By involving relationship managers in the creation and development of these digital service models, they are more likely to be enthusiastic adopters, recognising that technology can make their lives easier.

For example, digital tools can reduce the administrative burden, allowing relationship managers to spend more time speaking with clients while also ensuring those interactions have greater impact. By fostering a culture that is open-minded, agile and collaborative, wealth management firms can improve the implementation of their digital transformation programmes. And once there is sufficient buy-in across a firm, it then becomes far easier to educate clients and encourage them to start using these digital services.

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