Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has reported that Microsoft Teams now has more than 75 million daily active users, and that on one single day in April there were more than 200 million Microsoft Teams meeting participants, generating more than 4.1 billion meeting minutes. “We’ve seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months,” he said.
Janet Jones, Head of Industry Strategy for Financial Services at Microsoft UK, recently joined Antony Bream, Managing Director – EMEA and North America at Wealth Dynamix, to discuss areas of focus for digital transformation during these turbulent times, and its impact on wealth management.
5 Key takeaways
- Technology-enabled remote working is here to stay. During the initial weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic businesses focused on keeping employees safe and productive, adjusting operating models to better support clients, minimising disruption, and managing risk. Despite immense cultural and technological challenges, especially related to conducting meetings and doing deals digitally rather than face to face, many firms have adapted well and have experienced unanticipated benefits. Productivity gains has been widely reported – Microsoft itself has seen increases of around 15% in some areas of the business. As well as enabling relationship managers, their teams and their clients to continue operating effectively, the widespread adoption of collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams has changed the way employees work day-to-day, and exposed them to a much broader set of teams across the organisation. Firms are embracing cloud-based infrastructures, which are ideally suited to rapid scale and ease of deployment of innovative new solutions, and globally there has been a significant rise in the use of power apps and chatbots.
- AI is fuelling delivery of hyper-personalisation. The ‘augmented’ relationship manager is becoming a reality, with AI bringing a host of capabilities to the table, including sentiment analysis, Natural Language Processing (NLP) and voice to text. AI can analyse many different forms of interaction, extract tasks and electronically route work to the right people for execution, creating a smooth, efficient and automated hand-off process. Its ability to sift through vast amounts of data at high-speed, pinpoint specific insights and inform advisors on next best action, is helping advisors to prioritise client work and communicate relevant information to every client, at exactly the right time. And from an operational standpoint, taking manual time and cost out of the investment reporting process, or regulatory compliance processes such as suitability, remediation and reprofiling, will improve advisor productivity and enable more time to be spent interacting with clients.
- Getting the right balance between personal and self-service is key. In recent years technology investments have focused on increasing the sophistication, ease of use and appeal of self-service channels for HNW clients. However, high quality interactions with relationship managers will always be essential, and it has become increasingly important for technology to support the client-advisor relationship by automatically detecting when personal service is needed, and providing access to it as required.
- Priorities for IT spend are client service and ROI. IT must align with the Business to maximise the impact of technology investments on client experience, and to provide worthwhile returns. While past investments in client-facing technologies like online portals and mobile valuation apps have improved client experience, wealth managers must now focus on middle and back office digitisation, and advisor enablement tools, which cut costs, increase productivity and free time to spend communicating directly with clients.
- Understanding an increasingly diverse customer base is key. Within five years augmentation and business operating models will advance considerably. Wealth managers must focus on driving forward initiatives that enable them to identify everything they can do to support an increasingly dynamic client base, with varying profiles and individual requirements, at any point in time.