Wealth Dynamix CEO Gary Linieres recently asked me, what one piece of advice would you give to a wealth manager for 2020 success? The article below is my response, which features in the latest e-book by Wealth Dynamix. Click here to get your copy of the full e-book. Hope you enjoy the article!

Equip Relationship Managers to take centre stage, back where they belong

The shiny new toys that have taken the wealth management industry by storm in recent years have undoubtedly become top of mind and the focus of technology spend for many firms. But results have proved disappointing. In 2020, winning wealth managers will redress the balance and invest in tools that empower advisors to yield greatest return on investment (ROI). Increased support for the vital role that advisors play in boosting satisfaction and growing AUM will maximise retention of both staff and clients.

User-friendly client portals, mobile apps and robo-advisors are at the heart of many digital transformation projects. Despite being touted as the panacea for ensuring customer satisfaction and stakeholder-pleasing AUM growth, the reality is that many have failed to deliver. Uptake has been slow, with adoption rates as low as 20-30% typically reported.

While significant effort and expenditure have been directed towards client-facing technologies – and compliance too – relationship managers (RMs) seem to have been overlooked in the drive to achieve digital transformation, despite the critical role they continue to play in engaging and retaining clients. What both digital challengers and others who have invested heavily in new-age technologies have lost sight of is that RMs drive the quality of every customer relationship. Capgemini found that 67% of clients select wealth managers on the basis of ‘enhanced digital capabilities’, while 91% cite ‘quality of the firm’ as the deciding factor. Clearly, every touchpoint strengthens engagement, builds trust and secures loyalty.

Machine vs man: redressing the balance

Hefty investments in self-service wealth management technology have left many firms walking a tightrope. Access to rudimentary portfolio details and valuations are instantly accessible, however Capgemini found that wealthy clients are not comfortable interacting with technology alone, calling for a more balanced approach between human touch and technology.

The fact is, wealthy people want personalised advisory services – delivered by a person. RM touchpoints remain a critical part of the process, and there is a direct correlation between empowering RMs with more efficient client management tools and AUM growth. Provided with value-added insights into what clients want, and how they behave across the entire lifecycle of your engagement, every RM can onboard and retain more affluent clients.

In recognition of this, technology investments are now shifting towards tools that are “helping the wheel spin smoother, faster, straighter, longer and more efficiently”, according to Stephen Wall, co-founder of The Wealth Mosaic. Increasingly, the focus is on AI and other technologies that facilitate relationships and communication, aggregation and reporting, behavioural analytics and customisation, and new product development.

Heightened pressure on the cost:income ratio as we enter 2020 is the catalyst for change. With costs rising, wealth managers are placing a lens on efficiency and AUM growth. RMs need more time for client engagement and management, onboarding needs to be slick and client experience needs to be impressive. And with clients placing high value on longevity of relationship with the same RM, attrition matters too. The priority must be to keep top-performing RMs motivated, productive and earning industry-beating income for both the client and themselves.

In 2020, winning wealth managers will redress the balance. Their secret sauce is to empower RMs with smarter, data-driven insights into client behaviour and sentiment, and to arm them with technology tools that boost productivity. They will be equipped to deliver faster, more efficient and responsive client servicing. And they will be incentivised to pursue new customer engagements and generate a greater share of wallet from existing clients, which is undoubtedly a lower-cost, more profitable path to follow.

By Dominic Gamble, Head of Asia-Pacific, Wealth Dynamix

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