In wealth management, no longer is it just a race to the best return or the most secure future—it’s also about how the journey along the way feels to every wealth management client. That’s a good customer experience (CX) and it’s important. But it’s not just about design, digital tools and personalization.

Some companies are now taking customer experience to the next level—by using a holistic approach that allows their organizations to become customer-obsessed and thus reignite growth. This approach is about reflecting on what your clients value—and how you can help them achieve the outcomes most important to them. And how you could deliver on those outcomes consistently, across the firm, even as client needs change. That is what we call the Business of Experience (BX).

Welcome to the Business of Experience (BX)

Firms need to move beyond the belief that touch points are where experiences start and end. Your clients bring a purpose, problem, need or question to every interaction with your brand—along with expectations for how quickly or easily that outcome will be realized.

Why does it matter? Profitability. Our research found that BX-focused firms significantly outperform other companies in year-on-year profitability growth:

*Accenture Song identified the top 15% BX companies based on their survey responses to questions around BX capabilities. Using publicly available financial data, Accenture Song calculated industry-indexed EBIT for each company for 1-, 3-, 5- and 7-year CAGR, and then compared BX companies to their peers.

Let’s reflect on a BX leader—Venmo.i They didn’t just create a payment app; it offered a universal way to borrow and lend money to friends and family regardless of bank affiliation and without the hassle of cash. Think of it as the business of frictionless payments.

Companies that embrace a BX approach and shift their mindset would be able to meet their clients’ needs and become an indispensable part of their lives. They are likely to uncover new market opportunities and to set themselves up for sustained growth, relevance and durability.

While CX was limited in the past to the chief marketing officer’s (CMO) or chief operating officer’s (COO) purview, BX ties back to every aspect of a company’s operations—so much so that 77% of CEOs said their company will fundamentally change the way it engages and interacts with its customers. In a firm that nails BX, everyone is responsible for the client outcomes. Goodbye, siloes.

Ways to build a great Business of Experience

This begs the question: Is your firm in BX-ready? Check it against the three action areas below, which are based on Accenture’s work with clients across financial services.

#1: Become customer obsessed—and use that as your compass.
Customers will always evolve and change, often unpredictably. As a result, you need to uncover customers’ unmet needs. This means thinking about how you make your customers happier and more loyal, identifying what they want to achieve and how they want to achieve it and delivering an experience that enables them to do so.

A deeply embedded purpose gives direction here and keeps everyone aligned. It allows you to anticipate which customer needs you should solve for and which unmet needs you can fulfill. It allows you to stand for something and infuse that identity into your business and the manner in which every leader and employee operates every day.

Some companies are therefore introducing a “customer office” that brings a wide range of capabilities—including customer strategy, insights, design and customer and employee experience—together to put the customer at the heart of everything they do.

More than ever before, it’s critical to understand a client’s full context to enable hyper-personalized advice and experiences. Good BX means efficiently and continually learning from your clients, especially as more investors expect the same quality of advice and investment strategies that were once solely provided to high-net-worth clients.

Our new Capital Markets Vision 2025 report indicates that clients are demanding more from the wealth providers, with more relevant insights and a better understanding of their needs. These new dynamics bring a call to action for wealth executives to bridge the personal and the digital to seamlessly deliver advice in a customized and scalable way. The report includes our new digital playbook for 2025, which outlines changes firms should consider today and tomorrow.

#2 Sync the tech, data, and human agendas.
To understand your customers deeply, you need to pick up on signals through data and research to understand what people are saying and how they’re behaving (knowing the two aren’t always the same). And this is critical to do so across tech, data and business functions. A cross-organizational approach to gathering and sharing data and insights is a key way to create a robust and unified snapshot of your customer and their needs.

All roads to BX are paved with governed data. That means cleaning it up, eliminating siloes and governing how it’s used and by whom. Clear and reliable data allows your teams across the business to generate the relevant, intelligent insights necessary to hyper-personalize for each and every client.

When we help wealth management firms achieve a consolidated view of their clients across the organization—eliminating data siloes—firms can uncover unmet needs and growth opportunities.

When you get your data house in order, you have a foundation for innovative new products, platforms, and services. For example, Accenture worked with Farmers Insurance®, who was on a mission to bring brand-new services and create demonstrable new value streams in the ever-evolving insurance space. Armed with research that revealed a staggering 60% of renters across the United States did not have insurance, its New Ventures group created a series of concepts focused on the “future of insurance.” From this, the Toggle℠ concept was born. It analyzed millennial attitudes toward renting and insurance, which—when combined with the wealth of macrolevel data Farmers already had on millennial mindsets—gave them the actionable, holistic human insights needed to shape an experience that would satisfy previously unmet needs.

#3 Experience is everyone’s business.
Most companies still organize functions independently across business units; each has separate leadership, channel touch points, budgets, data pools and more. And when change happens, they often focus on a new look and feel to existing touch points to drive improvements—but without changing processes or operations to better align with customer needs. As a result, any gains they’re making might be incremental at best.

BX leaders, instead, push decision-making around experience down through the organization to be as close to the customer as possible. To make this work, BX leaders understand that every single employee needs to feel a sense of ownership and understand how their individual roles and day-to-day work align with and contribute to the experiences they offer customers.

Six out of 10 firms who already embrace BX do two things. First, they extensively link employee incentives to the customer experience they deliver. And second, they conduct change management training for managers to help deal with evolving customer demands.

Unleashing the best in people, technology and data

To become masters of experience, wealth management firms need to invest differently—not only in a deeper understanding of client values—but also in their people and the advanced technologies that allow for new outcomes. Successful execution requires an operating model that aligns technology, data and talent into a structure that’s driven by client experience and focused on a single unified journey. Right now, the differentiation window for first movers is still open. I’m encouraging my clients to move through it and we’re here to help.

Special thanks to Brian Higgins, Accenture Song Senior Manager, for contributing to this blog.

iAll statistics and company examples mentioned are from the Growth: It Comes Down to Experience report, 2020, unless otherwise noted.