According to a specialist in generational behaviour, millennials consider human service to be the luxury end of the market. If that is the case then – have we come full circle? A look at the optimum service model.
- The expert introduced the session to talk about the research recently conducted into how clients interact digitally and the role that technology can play in the better delivery and efficiency of the overall client experience with a wealth manager. Expectations are high based on the ways clients interact with other providers outside of the wealth industry on a day to day basis so how are wealth managers responding?
- The discussion started with a question on how wealth managers are investing in technology today. The opinion was that a lot is being invested out of necessity in order to function as a business. Strong technology is a hygiene factor rather than a choice, but it is not always particularly successful in how it is created and deployed. It also depends on whether it is around the client interface, or for use with back or middle office in making the overall business more efficient.
- One delegate started the conversation with a comment on the closure of the UBS Smart Wealth platform and how that had ‘failed’ as well as the recent Click & Invest closure by Investec. The opinion around the table was that these ventures had not been given enough time to succeed and that firms were very short term in their approach to new tech investment.
- A second delegate said that as a small business, technology was key to their interaction and efficiency with clients but that they had been able to build new when the business started so were not hampered by legacy constraints.
- The conversation went on to focus on what clients expected from their wealth manager in terms of communication and a clear consensus quickly established that clients value the personal contact with their IM. Technology is great for transactions but when something goes wrong, or a more in- depth query is necessary, the personal contact is essential.
- The discussion then moved to how technology can be used to give the adviser more time to support the client in his own interactions with the end client. Information can be accessed via technology that then supports a better-informed discussion with the client. However, it is important to personalise the interaction as firms are offering a very high level of bespoke service to clients and the technology needs to support this.
- In delivering a discretionary portfolio service to clients a high level of technology is also required both internally and externally and it’s important that firms can use tools and digitisation to convey all that needs to be reported when running a discretionary portfolio.
- A delegate gave the view that clients appreciate understanding what research the analysts are conducting and what they are seeing globally and how that translates into what ends up in their portfolios. Digitisation can help convey that message to clients and help build a story around their holdings.
- Another delegate reported how important it was to customise the digital journey for each client but that the personal interaction needed to remain, and no-one disagreed with this. It was about getting the right balance to give the optimal service. The same delegate reported that they had very high NPS scores for their excellent digital services but as soon as they suggested removing the personal contact, NPS scores dropped significantly. This clearly illustrates the need for both channels of interaction and how important it is to combine the two well.
- The second element influencing the level of personalisation was the wealth level of the client and that it was not possible to go as ‘personal’ as one might like due to the complexities of the client.
- “We are adopting technology to drive efficiencies to be able to have multiple portfolios available to the client. We are using platforms to try to improve our offering.”
- It was agreed that adoption and spends across the industry are significant, but the business is still at a disruptive stage rather than investing heavily for the future. Systems are still piece meal and being bolted together with apps rather than an end to end technology build across a business. Many firms are heavily constrained by budgets and how they allocate spend impacts their adoption of new technology. They only have a certain amount to go around, and money is still being spent heavily on compliance and regulatory aspects of the business. It comes down to mandatory change versus discretionary change.
- In summary, the discussion concluded that technology must be used to both drive internal efficiencies and to deliver a more effective and efficient proposition for the client. Clients want a significant certainty that they are in safe hands, that they have a sense of reassurance and care and organisations need to be both placing their interest first, whilst delivering an efficient and workable proposition for both their clients and the business. Technology can go a long way in supporting the delivery of this and meeting both sets of interests but the spend required is always going to be the final decider, given the competing priorities of wealth firms.
Expert: Philip Zerhusen, FACTSET
Facilitator: Tony Pham, FACTSET