External factors are directly influencing how wealth advisors think about interacting with their clients and use technology to more effectively and efficiently manage those relationships. Shifting demographics and the emergence of the Gen Y/Millennials and Gen Z client segments is placing more focus on creating a better digital client experience for a group that has grown up expecting integrated technology with everything they do. A recent FactSet survey of high net worth (HNW) clients showed that 46% of respondents felt that digital wealth management is a better use of their time, while more than a third of those under 35 think improved access to research and insights is a key benefit. For them, easy access to relevant information is a given and there is an expectation that technology will provide them with the information they want to see, when they want to see it.
The same survey of HNW clients revealed that 54% of wealth management activities took place online during the global COVID-19 pandemic, which represents a 45% increase in virtual wealth interactions. The pandemic has disrupted more traditional client interactions as face-to-face meetings between client and advisors have been replaced by Zoom meetings and e-signatures. . At the same time, firms outside the financial services industry, like Amazon and DoorDash, have re-set the bar on the acceptable speed for information and product delivery. It is critical that advisors keep pace with these growing expectations while delivering their services in an efficient manner that allows them to focus on higher value activities that differentiate them from competitors.
Recently, FactSet partnered with F2 Strategy to conduct a survey of advisors to collect insights about how they use technology to manage their client relationships and identify opportunities to provide a better advisor and client experience. Overwhelmingly, the advisors that participated in the survey felt that both human interaction and technology play an important role in helping them better manage client relationships.
Advisors are right not to be afraid of new technology. The evolution of robo-advisor platforms showed us that technology and advisors each have their place in the wealth management ecosystem. Clients are human beings and there will always be a desire to connect with another human to discuss their goals and objectives, the current market conditions, and the important financial decisions they are facing. Advisors that embrace technology will see that it augments and elevates their ability to more effectively service clients.
Advisors were asked what functionality or innovations would most improve their efficiency and make managing clients' needs easier. Five key areas rose to the top of the list:
- Consolidated Platform: “Don’t make me go to multiple tools to get what I need.”
- Intuitive and Streamlined User Navigation: “Make it easy for me to find what I need.”
- Mobile Access: “Let me access what I need wherever I am.”
- Connectivity and Data Integration: “Give me the ability to see integrated market, client, and portfolio data from multiple sources in one spot.”
- Risk Monitoring and Alerting: “Let me know what to pay attention to for my clients.”
When asked to expand on their responses to the survey, advisors were fairly consistent in terms of what they want and believe would make them more effective at performing their jobs. They want to be able to view and manage everything they need in one place—client and portfolio information, news, market data, research, etc. They want a personalized experience that aligns to how they manage their business and allows them to focus on information that is important for their clients, while removing the “noise” generated from information that is not important. Finally, they want broad and deep integration to enable aggregated views both across their book of business and at the individual client and portfolio level.
Surprisingly, when asked if they currently have a centralized tool that surfaces personalized and actionable insights around impactful news, events, and clients to help prioritize client engagement, 40% of the advisors indicated, “No, but I’d be interested,” and 27% replied, “Yes, I have several places to go for that information.” Only 26% of the advisors responded that they have a single dashboard or workstation that provides them with that view.
Advisors that responded, “No, but I’d be interested,” were asked to identify the functions they would like to have available to them in a consolidated dashboard.
Not surprisingly, their responses are closely aligned to a few key themes: aggregated portfolio and market data, personalized and relevant insights, integrated client account and CRM level data, and ease of navigation. Advisors are keenly aware that time spent learning and re-learning how to use tools or manually aggregating information across multiple platforms is not efficient and takes significant time away from providing the advice and guidance their clients require. Because they do not have these capabilities, advisors are missing out on the opportunity to anticipate client needs and proactively engage in meaningful value-add discussions.
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