Expert: Michael Feeley (SEI). Facilitator: Emma Chesney (CCS)
- Data accuracy and timeliness is a challenge for all forms of client reporting
- Generational changes impact on reporting formats. Do paper statements still have a place?
- When we know our own offerings in such great depth it is often difficult to see how others might find them difficult to understand
- For personalisation to be successful it needs to find the balance between being specific to the individual client whilst also being time efficient from a process and production perspective.
What is client reporting? And what are the challenges?
We are seeing client reporting evolve from regulatory reporting in the form of valuations, contract notes, C&C, which have to contain specific information and be sent in a timely manner, to other more optional client touchpoints that may be sent for informational or marketing purposes.
Reports that are sent to clients with inaccurate information generate further questions and confusion and greatly impact the client experience. Reports that are sent ~25 days after month end are already seen to be out of date, especially in a world where data is often available instantly via websites and apps.
Do paper statements still have a place?
As wealth passes down to younger generations the client communication preferences of our client bases will change. We all agree that older generations tend to favour paper statements and booklets, sometimes in addition to online portals and sometimes not. But younger generations are so familiar with social media, YouTube and other similar platforms as a place to retrieve data and information that a shift to a digital reporting solution is almost inevitable. As we see this shift taking place, some are now defaulting to digital documents and viewing the distribution of paper valuations the same as the distribution of information for vulnerable clients, asking the client what they need why they need it.
The concern is that the statistics on the volume of documents downloaded from portals is generally very low, under 20% in some cases, although this can be higher for platforms with a focus on a digital offering. The discussion focused around making the online documents more interesting to drive engagement.
Valuations via video messages have started to be used across some specific areas in the industry, for example pension statements. In the group discussion these were seen to be an effective way to distribute summary information in a more personalised fashion to a wide client base. These videos are often distributed as links with an additional PDF document containing more detailed information, or a one-page letter with a QR code to open the video.
Simplification of terminology:
Some interesting stats were introduced into this discussion. One mentioned was that the average reading age of adults in the UK is 9 years old. This suggests that the complex information contained within client communications is generally not fully understood by the majority of the client base.
This was supported by another interesting figure offered in the discussion noting that 65% of people who receive investment reports don’t fully understand them.
Chat GPT was suggested as a tool which can be used to simplify complex financial information into a language that can be understood by, for example, a 12-year-old.
It was agreed that the general understanding that we have of the financial services sector, our products and services and our client communications means that this simplification process is better undertaken by third parties.
Personalisation of client reporting:
Firstly, what are we trying to personalise? We agreed this to mean the data, communications and language within the document rather than the format and style. For example, with bespoke discretionary businesses, investment managers will write reports on their investment models, whereas a client statement will contain information on their own holdings, book costs, performance.
- Notifications are a useful, but not widely used, tool to notify clients of time sensitive and important changes within their investment portfolios - for example, exposure to Credit Suisse in the current market
- Generating these notifications from known information on which accounts are invested in certain assets could be an easy way to generate a personal message to the client, such as letting them know not to worry and that their investment objectives are still being met