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The Power of Digitisation, finding the right balance

In wealth management today, technology is used to compliment customer service but finding the right balance is no easy feat. Old styles of service are competing against new, and the industry is struggling to find its footing. PWC reported that what wealth managers offer in terms of technology, is ‘sharply at odds with what their clients expect. Yet over half of the HNWI’s surveyed believe it is important for their financial advisor or wealth manager to have a strong digital offering’. But with the introduction of robo advice, younger firms are placing more confidence in this than face to face advice, and it begs the question – is there a balance?

How to get it right?

With the abundance of technology on offer today, the average consumer expects more from the services they appoint and this is no different for HNWI’s who now look for the simplicity of digital transactions they’ve become accustomed to in day to day life. So, it is in the best interest of wealth managers to provide digital offerings for their clients in order to offer a better overall experience and to thrive in today’s digital world.

Often what leads to a bad customer experience, is making the client feel like one of many rather than an individual. A more personal service is often what clients are after and technology now has the ability to help firms offer this. CRM systems are now being made with both client and manager in mind and are able to manage the complex relationships between them. They are able to provide a history of all client interactions, organise and highlight tasks linked to a client, continuously monitor client suitability and capture all client feedback. Clients are now also benefiting from client portals which allows them to see their own portfolio and manage their own information. This provides clients with a greater degree of transparency and forms better trust between client and manager. All of this functionality provides an experience that brings firms in line with today’s client expectations but also works alongside traditional methods of wealth management (such as face to face meetings), ultimately adding to the service a manager can give.

 

The Robo Advice war….

The use of technology with traditional methods is a good way of blending old and new ways of managing clients, but increasingly newer firms are leaning towards advising clients using robo advice. Robo advice replaces face to face investment advice with automated, online guidance. The rise of robo advice may have come as a result of the ban by the FCA on financial advisors offering free advice. The FCA reported that up to ’16 Million people could be trapped in a “financial advice gap”- they need advice but can’t afford it’. Robo advice is seen as an affordable way of obtaining financial advice and is more attractive to the millennial generation who are more accustomed to digital avenues, but this is at the cost of face to face advice. According to a survey carried out by Natixis Global Asset Management 56% of the respondent’s view robo advice as a lower fee option and 46% say it is more convenient. However, only 17% think robo-advisers may deliver superior investment returns and only 13% believe automated platforms provide better customer service.

Robo advice can offer less wealthy clientele financial advice, but a complete customer service is always expected from any service and robo advice cannot offer this alone. As the wealth management industry is currently adapting to new digital ways of bettering customer service, is this not how robo advice should be viewed – as a way to complement existing practices?

 

Mixing old with new  

Robo advice can be compared to online banking in some ways; when this feature was first introduced it was regarded with scepticism but today consumers have come to expect it. Yet this online feature doesn’t render face to face meetings useless, it adds to the client experience. However to completely fulfil client expectations this needs to be in conjunction a more personal service. Robo advice may become a first port of call for clients in gaining initial advice but face to face meetings and the delivery of personal customer service, will still have its place.

 

The wealth management industry is slowly realising that traditional methods alone are no longer in keeping with what clients expect. CRM systems and client portals all add value to the client experience and have been created to fit alongside traditional methods. Newer outings such as robo advice may have been implemented in order to fill a gap in the market but cannot provide the same level of customer service alone. The balance it seems is not to assume traditional methods are no longer required, and not to assume that technology can take over either. Technology is often designed to help our lives and enhance the consumer experience, but cannot replace the kind of customer service that a human can give.