The financial services sector is more competitive than ever, and those competitive dynamics are further complicated by the pace of technology-driven change. Although assets under management (AUM) have increased for asset and wealth management firms, rising costs and stagnant revenues (high interest rates, fee compression, movement to passive funds, and competition from non-core wealth and asset managers) are driving profits down, requiring focus on efficiency and productivity.

Meanwhile, the rise of fintech companies over the last several years has increased pressure on traditional wealth management firms to offer clients more personalized services and innovative products. Firms need to keep pace with technology advancements while continuing to deliver outstanding service to a client base that is becoming more diverse. This diversity is especially evident with the entrance of millennial and Gen Z investors, whose preferences and financial goals reflect their tech-savvy nature, necessitating a fresh approach to traditional advisory services. Firms also need to double down on scaling the service to affluent segments, including ultra and high net worth, with tailored offerings.

Then there’s the ever-changing regulatory landscape, which is introducing new requirements that demand advisors' attention. While these regulations aim to ensure the industry's integrity, they require advisors to allocate more time to compliance, potentially diverting their focus from engaging with clients. This challenge is compounded by the fast-paced changes in the market, which require advisors to continually update their knowledge to effectively serve their clients.

In response to these dynamics, firms are turning to AI, which is offering new pathways for deepening client relationships, acquiring new clients, and boosting advisor productivity.

What Advisor Productivity Really Means

In the realm of financial advisory, productivity hinges on an advisor's ability to manage their time and resources with precision, ensuring that clients receive unparalleled service. This requires engaging in activities that bolster client relationships, enhance investment returns, and provide services that truly add value.

Unfortunately, advisors frequently find themselves mired in routine tasks, such as administrative work and compliance documentation, that steer them away from these essential duties. Elevating advisor productivity requires a shift towards more client-centric tasks, such as managing cash and portfolios, updating clients on market trends, and crafting personalized financial plans. Minimizing time spent on tasks that don't directly contribute to client welfare allows advisors to focus on what truly matters, benefiting both the client and the firm.

Technology is critical to enhancing advisor productivity and enriching the employee experience. The key to securing top talent and maintaining a competitive edge lies not just in offering competitive salaries and benefits but in providing a work environment that supports growth, innovation, and access to advanced tools and technologies. Strategic investments in technology can streamline workflows, automate routine tasks, and offer sophisticated analytics, enabling advisors to focus on high-value activities and client engagement. Such a tech-forward approach positions firms as attractive employers and supports a culture of excellence and innovation. The result is a more satisfied, engaged, and productive workforce, essential for delivering outstanding client service and driving long-term success in a highly competitive market.

Leveraging AI for Deeper Insights and Engagement

Artificial intelligence technologies are now capable of automating a wide range of tasks, from research to administrative duties to compliance documentation. Improved natural language processing capabilities are also empowering advisors, enhancing both employee and client experience. For instance, AI platforms can analyze vast amounts of data to identify potential leads, prioritize them based on the likelihood of conversion, and help advisors initiate contact through personalized messaging. AI-powered chatbots, virtual assistants, and advanced Generative AI models can alert advisors to important client life events or changes in financial goals, enabling them to be more proactive and personalized in their client engagements.

Compliance, a critical yet time-intensive requirement in the financial sector, is another area where AI is making significant inroads. Automated compliance platforms can monitor transactions in real time, flag potential issues, and generate necessary documentation, ensuring adherence to regulations without the manual overhead. This reduces the risk of compliance breaches and alleviates the administrative burden on advisors.

By harnessing the power of AI to take over routine tasks and provide insights, firms can significantly boost advisor productivity, streamline operations, and provide more personalized advisor services, setting a new standard in client engagement and satisfaction in the financial sector.

Integrating Technologies to Maximize Value

AI alone won’t boost performance. To maximize the value of AI investments, firms must consider how the applications work within the broader ecosystem of technologies and processes.

Firms often deploy a variety of solutions for tasks like client onboarding, wealth planning, and portfolio management. When these systems operate in silos, they create inefficiencies that can impede advisors' ability to deliver seamless service. The solution lies in technology integration. A comprehensive CRM system, for example, can bridge disparate tools and AI applications, empowering advisors to navigate client interactions smoothly and manage administrative tasks more efficiently, setting a new standard for operational excellence.

The fragmentation of client information across multiple platforms can also lead to a disjointed client experience. By consolidating data from various activities such as goals management and trading annuities into a single platform, firms can significantly enhance both advisor efficiency and client satisfaction. A comprehensive financial management platform, for example, can provide a holistic view of a client's financial landscape, enabling advisors to offer more personalized and effective guidance, enriching the client-advisor relationship.

AI Realities: A Client Success Story

In the quest to more than double its AUM by 2030, a leading financial services firm turned to Wipro. The firm has an expansive network of advisors and sought help leveraging AI to boost advisor productivity and strengthen advisor-client relationships.

Wipro crafted a unique strategy built on the Wipro NOVA Analytics set of accelerators, which are tailored to the specific needs of the financial services industry. NOVA Analytics has been successfully deployed at leading wealth management firms and is customized to align with each client’s specific objectives.

Working closely with this client's business and technology teams, Wipro developed an AI-powered insights platform that leveraged Wipro NOVA Analytics following a three-step strategy:

  1. Establish the technology foundation to identify, store, and analyze important data, incorporating elements like infrastructure, data models, knowledge graphs, and more.
  2. Generate insights by combining AI with advanced data analytics, in collaboration with the client's analytics team.
  3. Deliver insights through a customized panel. After building a proof of concept, Wipro expanded the technology to include workflows that connect with the financial advisors' Salesforce dashboard. This allowed for the sharing of insights with advisors, clients, and branch teams through various channels such as emails and meetings, thereby improving the service and experience offered to clients.

The results were impressive: a projected 2.5x increase in AUM by 2030, a 30% improvement in client relationship scores, a 30% decrease in both client and advisor attrition rates, and a significant boost in advisor productivity.

Integrating AI throughout a firm’s broader technological ecosystem boosted its effectiveness. By embedding AI solutions into existing processes, similar to how a comprehensive CRM system unifies disparate tools, firms can address inefficiencies, boost advisor efficiency, and enhance client satisfaction.

Investing in the Future

Strategic adoption of AI and integrated technology solutions by wealth management firms marks a significant shift towards a more efficient, responsive, and client-focused approach to financial services. These advancements are not merely responses to today's challenges; they’re foundational steps toward building a future where adaptability and client-centricity are at the core of wealth management practices. By embracing these technologies, firms are ensuring that they remain at the forefront of innovation, ready to meet the evolving needs of their clients with agility and precision. This forward-thinking approach promises to redefine the landscape of wealth management, setting new standards for excellence and client satisfaction in the years to come.

About the Authors

Satish Avhad
Global Practice Head, Wealth Management, Domain & Consulting

Satish has over 18 years of experience in consulting, business development, delivery and client leadership in wealth and asset management. He has held senior leadership positions at Ernst & Young and worked with global clients such as SEI, Wells Fargo, BlackRock Solutions, Morgan Stanley and Northern Trust. He has experience with platform implementations including Blackrock Aladdin, Charles River CRIMS, SEI SWP, Trust 3000 and Omgeo CTM, and has delivered AI-based solutions leveraging predictive analytics, natural language processing and machine learning models.

Shankar Saini
Partner, Wealth Management

Shankar has more than 18 years of industry and consulting experience in the banking and financial services domain. As a former financial advisor to high-net-worth individuals and corporate clients, he has deep expertise in wealth management, private banking and capital markets. He is a trusted advisor for solving complex problems and driving large-scale business and technology transformations. Shankar holds an MBA in finance from a leading business school in India and is a certified SAFe 5 Agilist and Product Owner/Product Manager. He also completed a digital transformation-platform strategies certification program from MIT Sloan School of Management and holds an Investment Foundations certification from the CFA Institute.

Madhusudan Ponnuveetil
US Regional Head, Capital Markets, Domain & Consulting

With more than two decades of banking and capital markets consulting experience, Madhu has advised top-tier financial services firms on strategic imperatives crucial for their sustained success and competitive advantage. Before Wipro, Madhu worked at Cognizant, EY and Infosys (Finacle). Most recently, he led a successful advisory practice at Cognizant focused on banking and capital markets. Madhu completed HBAP from Harvard University, an MBA from the Asian Institute of Management in the Philippines and a Bachelor of Engineering degree from MSRIT, India.

Sridhar Byreddy
VP, Wealth Management

Sridhar is a seasoned information technology executive with more than 27 years of executive leadership in the financial services, pharmaceutical, telecom and insurance sectors. He has worked at UBS, Morgan Stanley, Lord Abbett Mutual Funds, Novartis Pharmaceuticals, American Re-insurance, AT&T and Lucent Technologies. Most recently, Sridhar was chief digital and information officer for the Smart Technologies and Advanced Analytics Team (STAAT), Wealth Management Americas at UBS. He holds a master’s in information systems from the New Jersey Institute of Technology and a Bachelor of Pharmaceutical Engineering from India.