In this second of a three-part blog series on the recent Hubbis Digital Dialogue webinar ‘The Vital Importance of Empowering the Relationship Manager’, we examine the changing skill-sets relationship managers need in a digital-first market
As wealth management firms embrace digital transformation, relationship managers increasingly need to upskill to keep pace with digital ways of working—whether that is communicating with clients through online channels or simply managing those relationships by using digital tools across the client lifecycle.
Adopting a digital strategy also means securing buy-in across an organisation, particularly among senior managers that are not necessarily tech savvy.
“A digital native definitely knows how to use digital tools, and thus feels much more comfortable, whereas somebody with grey hair like myself might be reluctant to actually use those,” says Urs Lichtenberger, a Managing Director at Credit Suisse Private Banking, speaking on the webinar. “But from a relationship manager’s perspective, the more aged, normally the wider the client base they have. So as a bank, you need to find the proper kind of balance.”
That is where training comes in to ensure advisors of all vintages are confident using technology for internal or client-facing work. Lichtenberger says that when Credit Suisse Private Banking first went digital, there was initially no pickup because they hadn’t spent enough time getting users comfortable.
“Before they were great on sales, they were great on relationship building, on financial products, all these things, but to actually sell digital products and to use digital products themselves, that is a new skill that relationship managers these days need to possess,” says Lichtenberger.
Understanding the value of digital
Technology such as client lifecycle management tools can reduce the amount of time relationship managers need to spend on low value or time-consuming tasks such as admin and compliance, freeing up more time to spend advising clients and nurturing relationships.
Digital platforms give clients more convenience, ensuring they are plugged into their wealth management provider 24/7, no matter where they are or what device they are using. Self-service tools enable clients to check their portfolios or execute transactions online, while multiple digital communication channels ensures their relationship manager is always in reach.
Digital transformation can help firms become more efficient by increasing relationship managers’ productivity, giving them more time to service a greater number of clients, all of which has the potential to improve business outcomes and boost profitability.
Despite the shift to digital, wealth management remains a relationship-driven business. Technology and robo advisors aren’t replacing traditional relationship managers. Instead digital tools are augmenting the client relationship by increasing the number of touch-points and enabling advice to be more targeted to a client’s individual needs.
By harnessing client data, relationship managers can provide a hyper-personalised service that elevates the client experience and deepens their relationships.
Automating workflows can take some of the mundane admin tasks away from advisors. “That really repurposes the relationship manager’s time to understand more of their clients’ needs,” says Alan Lim, Senior Director at Simon-Kucher Partners. “That is where the value add will be.”
Technology can enable firms to bake compliance into all processes, ensuring regulatory standards are maintained without bogging relationship managers down in time-consuming exercises such as KYC or AML paperwork.
Digital tools can give advisors instant access to product and portfolio data whenever they need it so they can offer the best possible advice to clients.
“We’re talking about empowering relationship managers—it’s making sure they can meet their customers’ demand,” says Neil Thomas, Regional Head for Asia Pacific at data provider Six.
Adopting a digital-first approach means advisors need the right technical skills to provide the high-quality digital experience that clients are increasingly expecting their wealth managers to deliver. That means firms need to take steps to ensure all relationship managers are engaged and understand why they should be using technology to make their jobs easier and improve client service.
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