As I talk to wealth management leaders around the globe, more and more are interested in a key shift: moving away from transactional, product-focused advice. Clients, in particular female clients, are making it clear that they want advice based on life journeys rather than being pitched a stable of products.

Gone are the days of inside-out thinking, focusing on products and services from a set repertoire. Some wealth management firms ushering in the future are using design thinking—an outside-in approach in which advisors must understand their clients’ life journeys and prescribe accordingly. As I said in a recent panel at Sibos 2017: “Don’t just create a product and then explain to the client why they should love it.” Our clients and advisors should be driving their experiences, not the other way around.

The human element is central to design thinking for wealth management, and is a vast departure from the traditional model. Accenture acquired Fjord, a global design and innovation consultancy, in part because so many firms may need design thinking at the center of what they do to be truly client and customer centric. For instance, Accenture worked with a brokerage firm to recreate its advisor experience and desktop using design thinking. We helped a bank redesign its wealth management client experience using the same. When an industry is being reinvented—as wealth management is—“tweaking” won’t help.

“Design thinking allows you to create something that works better for humans as they interact with the new digital reality in which we’re all working and playing.”

As your firm creates a human-centered advisory model, you must include advisors. When firms do not, they risk ending with a model that is far less effective than it could be. As your “boots on the ground”, advisors have the most frequent contact with investors—making their input invaluable. Even in the hybrid model investors clearly prefer, the role of human advisors is key. Create thoughtful ways to always be engaging clients and advisors in the design, getting their feedback and testing ideas. Don’t miss this opportunity to tap their knowledge to better serve your client base. Other areas of financial services may be able to operate primarily via digital channels, but wealth management will always involve more nuanced decisions requiring human empathy and judgment.

Make this fun! Advisors who have a say in designing the client journey to better serve your base will most likely be happier advisors. The more autonomy workers are given to influence outcomes, the happier and more productive they tend to be.[i] Who better to design a journey for human clients than the human advisors who interact with them most?

If your firm is looking to take a design thinking approach to your client experience, I’d love to talk with you about it. As always, please email me, Kendra Thompson, if you have insights or questions you would like to share.

 

[i] https://www.nbcnews.com/better/careers/how-be-happier-work-it-s-easier-you-think-n738081

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