A Steve Jobs quote set the scene for the discussion around how to achieve the best customer experience:
"You have to start with the customer and work backwards to the technology"
- There is strong evidence to show that brands that do this in whatever space, and get this right, are the ones that do well and perform financially. Since wealth is an adviser-led business rather than technology led, it is all about the relationship with the client.
- With a ratio at the event today of approximately 35 clients per adviser, this is not a great ratio - it is scale limiting and with margin pressure and poor tech both as limiting factors, sourcing new clients is what is keeping delegates up at night so the story is all about growth. A unique version of client centricity is required and is all about anticipating needs but the wealth industry is all about following the herd and rarely does anything new and innovative.
- Wealth firms need to figure out the value system and where they want to take business and then listen to their customers. The industry needs to cut down on jargon, make services more accessible using tech as an enabler and engage at more points in spectrum of the relationship, without disrupting the one-to-one personal relationship.
- The key point was then raised as to how you measure whether or not you are meeting client needs. All firms should all be measuring and seeing client feedback. It was agreed that as a whole, the industry has a shockingly low digital engagement but firms need to seek feedback before spending a ton of money. Firms need to test things with their clients more and give clients something they need or that will be useful to them. They should check what's working well for competitors and do their research.
- Another point raised was whether or not the industry is delivering its services at the right cost and whether firms are demonstrating value. It was suggested that:
"people only ask about price in the absence of value."
- Yet one delegate felt that it was all about price with private clients and clients always ask. However, there is a cost to delivering and creating the service and firms need to focus on where both value and demand are coming from. Clients want a hybrid model and businesses need digital to scale and drive efficiency. One delegate noted:
"We find fee pressure as the client's wealth grows. We service a range of clients and the lower ones are stuck because there are not many options. The bigger clients have more relationships and can play us off."
- Even if clients think you are the best, there is still a frequent check-in re fair pricing. If firms are competing against the banks, they have multiple sources of margin that a wealth manager does not have. However, banks tend not to provide the personal relationship, and clients, disappointed with the service will go in search of something else.
- As the conversation turned to onboarding, delegates agreed that the industry needs to set a better standard as it is a process that everyone finds difficult and it is perfectly possible to automate onboarding - it can be done and with the digital journey, it can make a massive improvement to investors’ lives with relatively low investment as well as increased banker productivity. However, technology needs to be solving a business problem with measurable outcomes, rather than tech for tech's sake. This means promoting engagement both internally and with the client on usage.
- Turning to the broader customer experience, one delegate queried the 'feedback loop' that other firms employ for clients, and how this can be used to engage further with clients. One delegate offered that clients have to be encouraged to share information which means giving them 'carrots' to share info using relatively simple gaming techniques in an unobtrusive way. It was pointed out that good technology used to be a differentiator, now it is a hygiene factor and is merely expected.
- With Apps rising to the fore and laptops almost becoming redundant, it is important to keep focussed on what matters to clients, such as delivering a simple account statement, how things are explained to clients in this world of jargon, and understand better how the client thinks and feels.
- It is important that technology enables the relationship, not drives it. Economic value needs to derive from it, and in wealth the core competency has to be client centricity. It is then about facilitating and enabling that. It is important to remember that a client's first experience and financial engagement will very likely be with a Revolute or a Monzo, and we need to continue that. Fintech firms are constantly courting the next generation.
- One of the key issues with technology is understanding how clients will likely engage with it, and as this can be hard to predict, it is important that user options are offered.
- The session concluded with delegates in agreement that their biggest gripe is getting systems to talk to each other. As soon as one thing doesn't work, the whole lot falls
- It was concluded, not surprisingly, that the technology must work front to back and all systems need to communicate or the problem is compounded. It is no good having a pretty front end if the inputs are
Expert: Mark Trousdale, Chief Growth Officer, InvestCloud
Facilitator: Caroline Burkart, Associate Partner, Scorpio