Innovation and traditional values: driving change in wealth management

Wealth management is a perfect example of an industry built on traditional principles like relationship management, but increasingly dependent on breakthrough technologies to support these

Wealth management is a perfect example of an industry built on traditional principles like relationship management, but increasingly dependent on breakthrough technologies to support these.

The driver for this change varies widely. Lead generation, staying on top of regulatory changes and enhancing the customer experience were among the forerunners, but technology is now creeping in and underpinning workflows across the entire spectrum. This is a general truth, but never more so than in the current climate as coronavirus disrupts processes and forces remote working.

Increasingly, wealth managers need an understanding of this landscape in order to provide the highest standards of service to clients. More often than not, the adoption of tech solutions is not about creating a new approach but improving an existing one. In most cases, the key ingredient is the ability to harness big data and turn it into a practical output to conduct traditional tasks more effectively.

Forging strong client relationships

One key area that is prime for this is boosting the customer experience. The ability to forge a strong relationship with clients has always been the life blood of wealth managers.

While this will never change and will always be essential, it does lead to an important question: how does it scale?

In this day and age, clients interact with brands across multiple touch points and expect a consistent experience and messaging throughout. Add to this the disruption caused when a manager changes jobs and their successor needs to pick up where they left off.

Consistency across these areas is becoming more and more important, and a unified customer experience is extremely difficult without the infrastructure in place to support. This isn’t just about recording all the necessary customer information and insights, but making sure it is readily accessible.

Harnessing data to build a competitive advantage

Getting the customer experience right boosts brand reputation and helps generate up-sell opportunities which in turn add to a company’s competitive advantage. Savvy firms are going further than this though by driving dramatic efficiencies through clever use of their customer information.

AI, analytics and automation capabilities are moving in leaps and bounds in this space. Again, it is not a case of reinventing the wheel in most cases but building on existing workflows to make them more effective and delegating tasks to smart tools freeing up time for human teams to invest elsewhere.

For instance, every hour of meeting with a client can easily create an hour of follow-up work. A lot of this will be things like data entry into IT systems and letter or document writing. Traditional workflows will see the adviser undergoing these chores, but this is no longer necessary.

Meetings and phone calls can now be auto-summarised with fact find information and other key details automatically detected by advanced software and input into IT systems. Innovations like this not only slash the hours required to do this work manually but it allows highly skilled advisors to pass on elements of the workload to back office support teams without them needing to join the initial conversation.

Streamlining processes like this results in direct competitor advantage, but it also frees up time that can be spent with clients further boosting the customer experience.

Compliance as a driver for innovation

No discussion of data within financial services would be complete without taking a look at compliance. Once viewed as a restrictor and inhibitor of innovation, compliance has made a remarkable comeback and is now the driving force behind numerous emerging technologies.

The fact that is often overlooked is that compliance and customer care are inextricably linked. Both disciplines depend on accurate client records and the infrastructure to understand this information at scale, which has seen the role of compliance teams in many firms evolving from policing to offering insights that bring value to other areas of the business. For instance, we often see financial services messaging, workflows and products changing in response to insights generated by compliance teams who have identified common bottlenecks or cross-sell opportunities.

Elements of compliance also feed directly into the customer experience. For instance, a client will be much more comfortable working with an organisation with advanced risk management systems in place as opposed to one that is less proactive in protecting them.

Compliance will underpin or undermine a brand’s reputation. Get it right and it will help strengthen loyalty amongst clients, but failure to instil a sense of confidence in this space will have the opposite effect.

The shifting expectations of wealth managers

More often than not, pursuing change will integrate with and have knock-on benefits for other areas of business. Driving efficiencies can cut costs but also free up time that can be spent with customers. Strengthening audit trails and quality assurance will generate information to boost the customer experience as well as compliance provided you have the tools to harness the data. Getting the customer experience consistent across multiple stakeholders and departments will naturally drive efficiencies. For organisations that get this right, the opportunities are vast.

As the technology evolves, so does the level of expectation upon wealth managers for the quality of service they offer. This brings with it new challenges, not least the need to stay abreast of new solutions as they gain traction in the market. However, wealth managers have access to more tools than ever to understand their audience, automate processes and put the customer first, with genuine opportunities to get ahead of the curve.

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