In the third and final article of our Future of Wealth Management series, Tej Dosanjh and Nobel Basser explore how technology is transforming the customer experience in the wealth management sector and discuss the areas that wealth managers and private banks ought to consider when digitising their offering.
Digitisation and the Customer Experience
In the third and final instalment of this series, we consider how technology is transforming the customer experience (CX) in the wealth management sector. More critically, we argue that not everyone wants a completely digital experience. The human touch must not be underestimated.
The current climate
Walking into most private banks, you feel that you are in a special space designed to look after you and your ‘wealth’. The follow-up analogue interactions are probably equally engaging – however, at times, this level of sophistication is not delivered through digital channels. Wordy websites can be clunky, fragmented, difficult to use, have limited functionality, and can be inconsistent with mobile applications (if the bank has one).
Finantix CEO, Christine Ciriani, believes that many clients are unhappy with the digital experience offered by their private banks. 47% of HNWIs are demanding that their banks prioritise digital innovation and improve the overall customer experience.1
If these gaps are not bridged, all other things being equal, clients could end up leaving their banks for rivals that deliver superior technical and non-technical CX. In a report by Capgemini, 74% of respondents said they would consider products from automated advisers — or 94% of those who said at the beginning of the year they may even change their main wealth adviser in the coming year.2
The sector gets messier with the prospect of ‘Big Tech’ offering tools and bespoke financial products – suddenly things become frightening. These guys know a thing or two about customer experience and client ‘stickiness’. For a niche private bank, competing with the likes of Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and Alibaba could be a daunting prospect.3
Ironically, some wealth managers and private banks, whose brand is oriented around their exceptional client-centric service, do not apply the same principle to digitisation. Instead of viewing digitisation solely as a way to cut costs, banks must leverage digital technologies to improve their customer engagement and better service their clients’ needs.
So – how can wealth managers and private banks digitise their offering in a sensitive, thoughtful manner?
There are three things to consider:
- Focus on clients instead of costs
- Maintain the human aspect
- Implement ‘it’ end to end
Focus on clients instead of costs
An enhancement of the customer experience must incorporate input from the client. It is essential to remember that the fundamental purpose of digitalisation is not just cost efficiency, but to better service clients. The client must always be positioned at the forefront of the process and included in any plans to improve a wealth manager’s digital offering.
Some of the biggest benefits of technology are the opportunities for self-service and personalisation. HNWIs want to be able to access and manage their portfolio, while also getting tailored recommendations. Digital solutions speed up this process.
272 HNWI business owners from the UK, the US, Germany and India responded to a survey by wealth management think tank Scorpio Partnership. The results suggest that, from digital account opening (deemed important or very important by 74%) to direct access to their investments and performance reports (prioritised by 35%), HNWIs want the choice to self-serve.4
Data analysis is also crucial to ensure that product suggestions are tailored. More than three quarters of clients say that if they were a CEO of a wealth management firm, they would prioritise investment in smarter client data analysis for more tailored advice.5 This poses a key question - what is the new role of the advisor?
Maintain the human aspect
Even with new digital platforms, clients will always want a human advisor to complement this service. Research shows that clients prefer a blended offering of online and interpersonal services – so digital wealth management needs to be a hybrid.
Technology should be used to increase cost efficiency and to allow clients to view their assets and investments online – but a trusted advisor is preferable for investment-oriented services that require more nuance. Success will be found by those who get the balance between automation and the human touch right, accurately understanding the advisory needs of their clients. This will also vary between clients, depending on factors such as their ability to pay for advice, their financial background, and the complexity of their financial arrangements.
Implement ‘it’ end to end
Most digital and customer experience projects focus on front office interactions, to smooth out processes and automate burdensome activities undertaken by relationship managers. The middle and back offices seem, in most cases, to be neglected.
Support functions should also be included in any digital transformation initiative. Having a common data set and access to ‘one version of the truth’ improves interactions between the customer and not only the sales and relationship teams but also Compliance, Risk, Finance and Operations teams.
Consider looking at other industries that have successfully implemented omni-channel customer experience strategies.
Important points to be taken away from this discussion:
- Clients must be at the centre of the decision-making process so that they can benefit more from what is delivered.
- Research suggests personalisation and self-service are a priority.
- Human interaction must not be neglected – look at the demographics of your ‘book’.
- Support functions should be included in any digital transformation.
Figure 1 https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/us/Documents/strategy/us-cons-disruptors-in-wealth-mgmt-final.pdf