Why digital transformation is key to attracting the next generation of Asian wealth clients

Asia is poised for a huge transfer of wealth by 2030 as high net worth families start succession planning. Wealth managers need to ensure their digitisation efforts are slick enough to win over this next generation of investors.


Asia Pacific’s wealth management industry is growing rapidly. It is home to around 15 million high net worth individuals (HNWIs), the second biggest concentration in the world after North America, according to KPMG. Assets under management in the region are expected to almost double to just under $30 trillion by 2025 compared to $15.1 trillion in 2017, PwC estimates.

At the same time, a massive wealth transfer is underway in the Asia Pacific (APAC) region. Some $2 trillion of wealth is expected to be transferred in the region by 2030, with ultra HNWI estates worth $582 million on average—the largest average estate size of any region globally, according to an IQEQ study.

Against that backdrop, succession planning is becoming an increasingly hot topic. While succession planning demand has historically been low in the region (only 40% of Asian HNWIs were planning for succession in 2019, according to an Asian Private Banker survey), that is expected to continue growing.

Shifting trends

Amid that generational wealth transfer and broader increase in the cohort of younger HNWIs in the region (particularly in China where 80% of HNWIs are under 50), APAC wealth managers must adapt to a new way of working. The Covid-19 pandemic has already underscored the need for firms to digitise to survive. Now, younger tech-native clients expect an entirely different customer experience than previous generations. They demand hyper-personalised services that can be accessed digitally wherever they are, whenever they want.

Not only is digital transformation helping to democratise wealth management, hybrid service models (a mix of in-person and self-service touch points) mean wealth managers need to rethink how to deliver exceptional client service. That starts with ensuring the user experience is slick and intuitive; poorly designed platforms will fail to attract clients who are used to fast, frictionless digital interactions in other parts of their lives. Research from Signicat shows that 68% of potential customers abandon onboarding processes if they are too time-consuming—up from 40% in 2016.

Role of digitisation in wealth management

Asian wealth managers have an advantage given that many firms in the region lack the legacy systems that tend to slow digital transformation. That means they can move more swiftly while also starting from a blank slate, enabling them to move beyond a simple multi-channel offering and instead seek ways to blend channels to offer a more joined-up experience.

At the same time, digitisation can give wealth managers a more holistic view of their clients’ financial needs while also providing better customer experience, improving competitiveness, boosting productivity and making firms more agile. That can also help them scale more easily, enabling relationship managers to expand their client base without compromising service quality.

Ultimately, technology can help wealth managers accelerate transformation by putting innovation at the heart of what they do, drawing on AI and data analytics to provide a digital-first hyper-personalised experience. That will not only help retain existing clients, it can encourage customer advocacy and win new business.

Hybrid model is preferred

While technology is transforming how wealth managers operate, the relationship manager role is still critical to client engagement but it will be increasingly augmented by digital tools. According to a survey of wealth management experts by Hubbis and Wealth Dynamix, 100% of HNW-related respondents said a hybrid approach will dominate in the future. A recent Capgemini report also found that 77% of HNWIs prefer being able to self-service via a firm’s website when access portfolio information. Meantime, a FINTECH21 survey found that 72% of investors under 40 would be comfortable working with a virtual financial advisor. All of that could help free up relationship managers to dedicate more time to clients and be more proactive (only 10% of relationship managers proactively help clients). As a result, more than half of respondents (59%) said relationship managers only enjoy an average relationship with their clients.

Respondents are optimistic for change, however: 55% believe relationships will be good or outstanding over the next decade. Behind that belief is the potential for technology to improve client visibility and provide smarter insights that can transform the customer experience. A majority of respondents identified CLM technology as a way to underpin this change, with 89% saying it would boost new clients, 87% saying it would improve client retention and 86% saying it would help increase revenues.

APAC wealth managers are still lagging on digital transformation. Yet while only a little more than a third (37%) of respondents have invested in CLM tech to date, 45% say they are considering to do so. That could also help them access new markets. According to a report from Morgan Stanley and Oliver Wyman , there is currently a $230bn untapped revenue opportunity in the lower HNWI and affluent segments that have traditionally been overlooked because resource limitations have meant wealth managers have tended to focus on higher value clients.

CLM technology

Adopting advanced client lifecycle management (CLM) technology that is designed specifically for the complexities of the wealth management industry can support firms seeking to embark on their digital transformation journey or accelerate it further. CLM technology helps firms manage client interactions digitally across the customer lifecycle, from acquisition and onboarding through to ongoing client service.

CLM tech can provide a 360-degree view of each client, helping build up a more complete picture that can improve service delivery and identify potential cross-selling opportunities. Meantime, more robust data gives relationship managers confidence that they are working from a single source of truth while also generating deeper client insights that can create a hyper-personalised customer experience.

CLM tech can also provide with new digital features that would serve to be more attractive to the new generation of digitally-savvy, high net-worth clients. For example, CLM software company Wealth Dynamix have partnered with Unblu to provide a real-time messaging, video, voice and collaboration tool in their wealth-management platform. This allows wealth managers to interact with their HNW clients via their preferred channels in real time – exchanging information and document all within a sector CLM environment.

All of these digitisation tools can be fully integrated across the business—from marketing, relationship management, operations and back-end processes—to improve efficiency, drive new business and support further digitisation.

By adopting an advanced CLM solution, Asian wealth managers can optimise their operations, enhance their customer experience and ensure they are ready for a digital future.

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