The Client Experience. Doing things 'a bit better' or rethinking the whole problem?

10 November 2022

AdviceClient ExperienceConsumer DutyInvestmentsMindful OfTechnologyWealthTech Matters

Expert: Farzana Khalil, Chief Customer Officer, Seccl and James Holmes Chief of Staff, Seccl Facilitator: Sarah Bennett (EY)


  1. Consumer duty is making firms focus more on the value chain, and how they innovate
  2. Barriers to entry in the industry are starting to fall
  3. Wrap platforms shifting to operating systems and digital innovation means a changing delivery model for advice
  4. It is important for firms to be able to build and develop client relationships online as they do face to face, and the offline/online experience will need to be matched
  5. Firms make a distinction between a customer and a client. The client market has greater requirements for education as firms are liable for the advice that they give


Industry Sentiment and Trends

There is increased focus on how to build a digital infrastructure with technology at the core, whilst also noting that there is a move to operating systems being in the Cloud, with API opening new routes to market, and simplification of existing tech stacks.

Firms do not see financial advice services changing too much in the future as demand from clients for face-to-face human interaction is still very strong, that said the current client experience is often brilliant offline and poor online.

Tech is fantastic for the right category of clients, but there is a need to be able to cater the tech and advice to specific clients and their individual objectives.

The thing that makes a client decide if they want to be a client or not is the first touch point e.g., depth of discussion the client has with their IFA on their goals and ambitions.

Client experience is heavily focused on the human element and the relationship that the IFA has with the client, and the trust in that relationship. If you get that right then other items, whilst still important, are potentially not as important. Branded trust is what firms aspire for.

Competing operating systems within the market mean that which system you opt for could dictate if you have a strategic advantage over other firms that use a different one, as it will enable different client experiences.

Challenges to doing things ‘a bit better’

Discussion around three key facets: client experience, goal setting for advice, daily interactions led to consensus that the everyday touch point of the Adviser won’t massively change.

One of the challenges of using legacy systems is that there is a disconnect between the service provided to clients in person vs the service presented digitally.

An alternative perspective to an iterative approach to improvements is that to get the greatest benefits and increase overall client experience there is a requirement to eventually replace all legacy systems.

Daily interactions – there is a gap in client servicing experience, and as an industry we need to raise the bar.

We don’t however need to go fully digital, and firms don’t have an ambition to digitise advice. There is a need to build in the right sort of friction in the client journey at the right time, to ensure we remain compliant. 

Product Transfer Process and the challenges of could be eliminated if managed on a single platform.

Consumer Duty has brought to the fore the kind of clients that are appropriate for a firm, with Advisers reviewing if their existing clients are right f to continue to service, when considering the expense and complexity of advice.

Feedback Driven Insights

Analysis of client feedback on the different parts of the investment process show that the biggest driver of client satisfaction is how close they are to meeting their investment objectives, and how that progress is being tracked, and communicated to them.

It is important for firms to have a service proposition that is online and doesn’t necessarily need to be face-to-face. This is what client feedback is indicating, and firms are conscious of certain technologies that will play a critical role in helping to achieve this.

Key takeaways:

  • Consensus was that it is more effective to take an iterative approach and make incremental improvements to a firm’s tech infrastructure
  • Firms are mindful to raise the bar on client experience and are striving to match the offerings provided by retail banks. The question remains: why should investment management be any different or more difficult for clients relative to retail banking offerings?
  • We don’t need to make everything digital to improve the client experience, what we need to do is identify the areas that have the most meaningful value/ impact for clients and focus on those areas. Digitisation is not appropriate in all instances
  • Within the client journey it is important to identify the areas in the value chain/ journey where certain frictions should be taken away and where friction needs to be added. E.g., if a client wants to make a particularly important decision, then add some friction to act as a control and support them. Process optimisation is an important consideration to improve the client experience
  • Will there be a front runner Platform, how does a firm know which one to back? For a firm choosing an operating system the functionality of the system is very important, and this expands to the suite of apps that you could potentially stitch onto the core system