WealthTech Matters – The Client: Digital Engagement In Wealth Management

Yesterday’s WealthTech event at London’s Royal College of Physicians centred on the client and, in particular, how technology can meet their changing needs. How can you boost client engagement?

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Yesterday’s WealthTech event at London’s Royal College of Physicians centred on the client and, in particular, how technology can meet their changing needs. How can you aid the Advisor or Relationship Manager in their mission to manage and service clients more intuitively, and how do you assess what’s a priority to the CX? It’s a subject that lies at the heart of every bank or wealth management firm’s ambition for growth and increased productivity, so it was not a surprise to see the venue buzzing with activity yesterday morning.

The Changing Landscape

Technology’s role in optimising the client journey and experience is a subject the team at Wealth Dynamix is passionate about, given our background in wealth management. During the last few years, we’ve witnessed a real sea change within the industry as multiple factors have transformed how clients wish to interact: more touchpoints, higher interaction frequency, and a wish to interact on their own terms means wealth managers need to find ways to deliver exceptional service in a more personalised way, often at scale.

The digital experience is now essential to clients who expect to access information and services on the go, from wherever they may be. Yet, wealth management technology is about far more than offering a client portal. Many in the industry have yet to fully glean the possibilities available via intelligent technology, so it was heartening to see so many delegates seeking to centre their strategy on the client.

It is now wholly possible to improve consistency and relevance across the entire client lifecycle to forge closer, more meaningful relationships with your clients, which is why our roundtable topic explored:

How Can Technology Improve The Relationship Between Clients And Advisors?

Johnny Beloe kicked things off with a recap from a previous workshop. Banks and wealth management firms’ relationship with technology is not always an easy one. When probed on how technology could be used to improve client relationships, it was clear opinions within the sector varied dramatically, with some seeing technology as a huge opportunity to ‘get ahead’ while others, often in more traditional settings, viewed it as a threat to their very existence. Universally though, there was a sense of urgency surrounding digitising the client experience in some form to compete.

Consulting the Room

Johnny Beloe outlined three company case studies for discussion, highlighting how the starting point is as relevant as the desired endpoint when planning technological enhancements. There is no one size fits all: the demographic of the client base, the firm’s position in the market and how they view themselves (i.e. market disrupter v traditionalist), plus their vision for the future, will all combine to drive decision-making.

Each of the firms had taken a different approach when considering how they could boost growth, attract more clients, provide a better client experience and defend against the competition. Plus, each had its limitations, whether those revealed themselves through old IT systems and infrastructure, budgetary constraints or the ever-present burden of regulatory adherence.

The delegates were each assigned a different firm and invited to scrutinise their approach to consider what they might have done differently to optimise the result.

The Findings

The room buzzed with debate and insight gained from the delegates’ own experiences, and upon feeding back to the group, there were some clear areas of alignment. If you’re about to embark on a digital transformation project, you’d be wise to heed these conclusions:

It’s dangerous to be swayed by flashy interfaces and client tools

Internal processes and integration must be prioritised before you consider adding self-service or client-centric tools like video chat and Robo-advisory services.

Self-service experiences should always start with the essentials

Onboarding and reviews were considered the priority in terms of self-service experiences. There was some debate on which should take precedence given that onboarding only had the potential to impress new clients whilst improving reviews would impact every client.

E-signatures are more than a nice-to-have

There was a consensus that the implementation of e-signatures was the next logical add-on to a client portal to fully reap the rewards of such a system and deliver a more efficient service.

Adding in amendments via the portal was then the next step

Allowing more self-service elements was not top of the list, but given it will both empower the client and provide efficiencies, it was felt to be a desirable addition in time.

A phased approach makes infinite sense

Not all priorities are equal. As demonstrated by the case studies, trying to make too many changes simultaneously can be counter-productive to improving client service. A few areas such as messaging and multi-channel communications were considered low priority in private banking, with expectations of low adoption voiced with the exception of the retail banking space.

A Three-Pronged Attack

In summary, the roundtable discussions underlined that it is paramount to have a clear vision before embarking on any transformation project. A successful approach takes all views into account, from Marketing and Sales to Back office, Operations & Compliance – and the most important of all: the client. It’s a puzzle with three interconnected pieces: the firm, the client, and the advisor. To miss any of these elements out of the equation will prove a mistake.

When implementing, it’s vital to test the technology on clients to gauge appetite and take up. Only by evaluating your offering can you consider tactics to increase adoption and ongoing usage, thereby carving a path to optimising your client experience.

Thanks to all participants. It was an ambitious session that underlined the complexities facing modern-day wealth managers as they strive to meet client expectations. One thing we did all agree on was that firms need to adapt to survive! Miss the opportunity, and you may miss out on safeguarding the future of your business.

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