Why wealth managers need to become financial therapists

The client experience of the future is likely to be a balance between the cerebral and digital, with websites and mobile capabilities complementing a high-touch human element.

Man lying on a therapist’s sofa

In an era of so much change and uncertainty, both in how global markets rise and fall and in how sectors operate and stay relevant, your relationships with your customers obviously don’t remain static. But many companies take their customers for granted, providing the same services in the same way. How does one maintain – or find – a competitive edge?

Experience is everything

In the wealth and asset management sector, that’s the US$200 billion question. Firms that focus on the customer experience can tap into that revenue opportunity, because 4 out of 10 clients are open to switching wealth managers under the right circumstances. The experience factor: the new growth engine in wealth management, a report from EY based on surveys from 2,000 individual clients and 60 wealth management senior executives globally, shows how these two groups diverge on three key areas:

  1. Transparency of performance and fees. This is a top driver of trust — clients want more of it, and they are eager to rate advisors and connect in public forums.

  2. Digital channels. Wealth managers expect to keep core wealth advice face-to-face, while clients are more open to using digital tools for wealth advice.

  3. The role of the advisor. Wealth advisors have traditionally kept clients steady through market swings and life changes, but in a world where so much data and advice is readily available online, some clients are questioning the value of a relationship with just one advisor.

 

 

​The video below explores how wealth advisors can advance in the digital age, forge stronger relationships and maintain the bond of trust so essential to successful wealth and asset management.

A landscape of disruption

Amid these diverging views, established players in the sector also must confront shifting client demographics and new fintech entrants, which are upending the traditional model of asset allocation advice. The result: pricing premiums are eroding while better and faster service is increasingly expected of providers.

What should be done? Investment in the client experience can help to bridge the divides outlined above. Research shows that clients want more interactions — from account opening to the provision of advice — through digital channels, with less service and transactional activities performed at brick-and-mortar branches.

But individual expectations of performance, trust and engagement – the core elements of client experience – are incredibly diverse. Firms that dare to challenge some of the traditional norms while remaining true to their core value proposition will be best suited to retain and grow their client bases.

Digital service, with a human touch

Given changing client expectations and the inevitability of more digital engagements, it is crucial to define an approach that offers clients a balance between face-to-face and digital interactions or a hybrid of the two. This will have the added benefit of enabling advisors to focus on higher-touch interactions and activities such as goals discussions with clients.

Humans are good at conveying genuine emotion and using their creativity to stray from a set script. In this role, they will need to spend more time calming jittery nerves in choppy markets, helping clients drop bad spending habits and increase savings, providing assistance to get them through a divorce and offering the tools to achieve life and financial goals. In essence, the role of the financial advisor may become more like a financial therapist.