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Harnessing Data Visualization to Build Closer Client Relationships in an Age of Disruption

Technology and Tips

By Philipp Zerhusen  |  January 31, 2019

One of the key debates defining the digital transformation of the wealth industry is that of data visualization. Our latest study indicates that, for wealth managers, using design and visualization to add value and generate trust is vital to remaining competitive—not least because the industry is ripe for disruption, with challenger banks and robo-advisors having altered the relationship management model by offering online-only wealth management at scale.

While these solutions will not be attractive to all clients, their very existence is changing expectations about what clients want to see when it comes to their digital experience, as the use of visualization techniques has shown to add value and build trust between advisors and high-net worth investors. This extends to include even those in the discretionary segment, causing disruption across the industry.

Our research over the last three years indicates that even traditional wealth firms, which rely heavily on personal relationships to set themselves apart, must consider how to support their trusted advisor status with an online interface. This means making real-time investment, market, and performance data available to clients and harnessing data visualization to turn that insight into intelligence.

Switch on to Online Communication

Even ‘digital phobics’ — those who typically avoid using technology to support their wealth management — are experimenting with digital tools in day-to-day life. Two-thirds of them regularly use a tablet, and 41% own a smartphone. Considering that these digitally-averse individuals are harnessing technology, wealth firms need to ensure their technology platforms are compatible across different devices and user-friendly for less digitally savvy customers.

Which of these technologies do you engage with

Investors’ digital interactions are having a transformative effect on the way they perceive their financial management. Almost three in four clients (73%) believe emerging technologies can help them achieve their wealth goals. The greatest potential for digital solutions is among those who have some autonomy over their financial decision-making through an advisory or self-directed wealth management relationship.

Shaping a Digital Destiny

Of our survey respondents, 49% had an advisory wealth relationship, 30% were self-directed, and 21% used discretionary services. The nature of their wealth relationships had a powerful influence in shaping their digital customer journey.

Unsurprisingly, self-directed and advisory investors believe the core function of the investment platform is to give them autonomy over financial matters. These clients place weight on being able to undertake end-to-end investor activity online and value a host of content, including open access to different products and knowledge from specialists. Meanwhile, for those in advisory relationships, clear comparisons between different investment products are crucial.

By contrast, discretionary investors place emphasis on mirroring the bespoke elements of their personal relationships online. Specifically, 45% of these investors view tailored investment advice as an essential feature of a digital platform, while an equal percentage believes interactive planning tools are necessary to support their progress towards their financial goals.

Demystifying Complex Data

A byproduct of today’s data-driven world is the growing importance of visualization to help both businesses and consumers draw more meaningful conclusions from the information available to them. This is a clear priority for wealth firms, given that two-thirds of investors feel that their wealth managers should be doing more to create visual tools accompanying the information they provide.

Almost 60% say they find it difficult to identify key points from graphs and charts, rising to 63% among advisory and self-directed investors. Clearly, wealth managers need to do more to unravel and explain complex information for their clients.

Rate your wealth manager at distilling complex information

Data visualization can help firms improve their insight delivery and generate greater trust and engagement with customers. A key aspiration should be to ensure that the digital touchpoint reflects the values of quality, knowledge, and trust that clients seek in advisors.

One of the primary barriers for the wealth industry when it comes to embracing digital tools is the importance of the personal relationship in delivering value to clients. Wealth firms should therefore ensure everything clients see when they engage online serves to only grow confidence in the management of their wealth, regardless of whether clients have an execution-only, advisory, or discretionary relationship.

By harnessing visualization and design techniques to manage information delivery, wealth firms can build stronger long-term relationships in an age of digital disruption, while remaining agile and competitive.

This article originally appeared in Asian Private Banker.

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Philipp Zerhusen

Director of Market Development

Based in Frankfurt, Philipp has worked in the financial industry for 25 years. Before his current role he held various international management and senior enterprise solutions roles across EMEA at Thomson Reuters, founded a number of start-ups, and worked for several years in Asset and Wealth Management at Sal. Oppenheim. Philipp holds an MBA from the University of Cologne, a professional banking diploma, and certifications in bond trading, project management and CRM.

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