I recently participated in a panel discussion as part of Aite Group’s Digital Innovation in Wealth Management Executive Forum: The Future is Now. The discussion focused on how technology, emerging digital capabilities and changing mindsets are influencing the future direction of wealth management advice in the digital “new normal”. I wanted to take this opportunity to share some highlights from the discussion that I think would be great food for thought as firms continue on their digital engagement journey.

Getting new clients in the door: the pandemic changes are not temporary 

The traditional wealth management client acquisition model was mainly around banking referrals and foot traffic. That all but ceased during the shutdowns in 2020. Marketing data took the lead in driving prospecting and building referrals. Advisors had to instantaneously up their digital skills to work with prospects through Zoom and other virtual channels.

While clients and advisors alike may have been thrown into the fire of virtual connecting during the shutdown initially, those channels are now more comfortable places to be for a broader customer base. Advisors must become adept at finding and keeping new clients in a virtual world. The good news is that this world offers significant opportunities—such as the ability to reach a larger audience and turn client feedback into process improvements.

Social media matters, but requires caution

Digitally connecting with clients and engaging in social media go together. However, leveraging social media as an engagement channel requires oversight and regulatory compliance. It’s crucial that advisors understand both the advantages and the responsibilities of social media so you can make it a valuable asset and not a liability.

Considering that a recent survey results indicate about 75% of consumers under the age of 40 use Google search and roughly 50% use LinkedIn to find an advisor, the opportunity is clear.[1] By using the power of data analytics, you can find the right opportunities to turn social media into a valuable prospecting tool.

AI and data-based prospecting: All talk and no action?

While in theory, firms embrace artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and data analytics as valuable prospecting tools, they are lagging in taking full advantage of these capabilities. A unified effort between the marketing and the IT departments is essential to making the vision a reality. Scalability and infrastructure support are critical for getting the greatest benefits from these tools.

However, the biggest challenge is how to use the information these tools yield to engage clients. The solution to this problem is multi-fold and requires integrating digital tools with CRM systems and (most importantly) understanding client preferences regarding how they want to be reached.

Digital networking or digital fatigue?

Virtual communication tools are all well and good but if overused they can become stale. At the end of the day, a Zoom call will never be like a face-to-face meeting. Clients are experimenting with different technologies, such as virtual reality. Advisors should change up the mix too if you’re going to keep the communication channels open and clients engaged.

The tools and skills you need to be successful 

Technology is an enabler, not a panacea. The impetus behind real change is a change in mindset. Advisors who embrace virtual capabilities could enjoy the benefits from interacting with a larger client base on a more personal level, more easily. No driving from place to place. Just the click of a mouse and you’re building a relationship.

Digital allows you to deliver personalized service. Clients are becoming accustomed to this type of customer experience in other areas of their lives and want it from their financial advisors as well. Clients are looking for an advocate who understands their unique circumstances, not a transactional medium who delivers a one-size-fits-all solution.

The top three reasons clients pick advisors are investment offering, technology offering and brand.[2] Digital fluency enables you to deliver on all three, offering tailored advice through customer-centric channels to drive brand loyalty. You now have the perfect opportunity to up your digital skills and change your mindset so you can be the advisor of choice.

Creating a seamless client onboarding process

Seamless onboarding is your ticket to both keeping the customers you acquire and expanding your customer base. The easier you can make it for customers to do business with you, the more satisfied customers you’ll have.

But you can’t make the customer journey easy until you put yourself in your customers’ shoes and fully understand their experience. Data analytics can help you understand what your customers want and need so you can apply technology to create solutions to common onboarding issues. The more you can personalize the process, the better.

Key take-aways for improving your client approach

As our panel talked through the top-of-mind issues around prospecting, marketing and client onboarding, four themes stood out to me:

  1. More than ever before, clients want a personalized investment approach that aligns with their values.
  2. While advisors are willing to embrace digitalization, they need to feel certain that the results will be positive for their clients—and for their business.
  3. To be successful in the “new normal,” advisors must have a change of mindset and educate themselves on not only new product offerings but also new ways of engaging with clients.
  4. IT, sales and marketing organizations must align to deliver a data-driven but personalized approach to prospecting.

By developing a 360-degree view of the customer, you can successfully address all four of these factors. And technology is the tool that will enable you to not only create a promising vision of the future, but also to act on it by delivering personalized solutions that meet your clients’ needs, at scale.

Special thanks to Joshua Field, Accenture Manager – Capital Markets Wealth Management, for contributing to this blog.

[1] https://www.cnbc.com/2021/03/22/can-advisors-meet-the-ever-increasing-demand-for-financial-advice.html

[2] Accenture Wealth Management Consumer Study, 2021

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