Reputation - the perception of the firm by an interested potential client base; the fit of the firm to a specific rung on the wealth ladder; the success of the products and strategies.
Relationship - the depth of the advisor-client trust; the responsiveness of the firm to client needs; the insights about the client’s lifestyle and concerns.
Reporting - the readiness of access to data; the confidence in a truly integrated, single-source of data; the adherence to modern reporting techniques leading to ease of understanding.
Routes - the number of channels a client may access their information from; the completeness and speed of each channel; the flexibility of the advisor to meet a customer on their terms. Ten years ago, many industry consultants were stipulating a model whereby UHNW and HNW customers would only be interested in the personal touch. Mass Affluent customers would look for a combination of personal touch and technology enabled service while the Young Affluent customers would be all about the technology. The model has certainly evolved and it is now obvious that technology is blurring lines; not only in terms of the choice of channel but also in terms of how it enables the business.
In the crowd-centric world, one’s reputation is tied even more closely to the sentiment of a significantly wider audience than before. As a vast number of interactions take place at any given moment; the key question is how aware is the firm of their brand in real-time? Social Media Monitoring is one of the avenues by which wealth managers can achieve this but it would require breaking the approach into three streams:
General Brand Sentiment - A suitable implementation of a big-data tool that constantly trawls social media looking for use of the brand identity. The general sentiment attached to the brand on a calibrated scale would then be determined. The numerous data-points associated with the entire customer base may prove very useful in understanding brand positioning as compared to the competition, in the context of new product launches, performance in the public eye and any loss of service or crisis.
Customer Issue Handling - In combination with a Social Media Action Center, a firm will be able to track specific issues, communicate directly with customers, notify advisors and head-off flash points. Experience shows that customer satisfaction on a Net Promoter Score (NPS) scale is significantly increased when proactive resolutions are employed.
New Customer Acquisition - An extended use of monitoring techniques would be to identify negative sentiment relating to the competition. At a macro level, such analysis may lead to strategic advantage. At the micro level, individually unhappy prospects may be identified for approach. An important facet of maintaining one’s reputation remains security. Enabling customers and advisors on mobile and social media channels brings inherent issues with respect to data security, privacy and credibility. A deliberate and considered approach is required to manage this thin line of security wherein too much security will detract from the experience and frustrate customers; while, too little security doesn’t bear talking about.
Driving a successful relationship is certainly the most important facet of success; and as such is the lever most frequently pulled. Unfortunately, it is too often pulled in haste. This is one lesson to be learnt from early adopting industries such as retail banking. Currently, most large banks are in their second or third generation of mobile enablement, having already deployed mobile websites, native apps and hybrid environments. More than the choice of technology, successful mobility strategies employ two main themes: easy-to-learn navigation (User Experience) and customizable function-sets (Personalization). For the wealth manager, the idea of providing access based upon profiles is an excellent way of ensuring a suitably function-rich environment for the user while keeping the application simple. Though not the topic of this paper, there are some interesting uses for deep data analytics when employed with customer information. By looking closely at large volumes of investment data alongside the customer behavior data stored in a CRM system, the following value-additions may be employed:
Recommendations - Client intelligence sheets that give interesting activity suggestions to the customer. The tools capable of doing this can create the sheets automatically in full English syntax and provide the customer with close to ‘personal touch’ service without the overhead of personnel.
Next-Best-Interaction - Suggestions to advisors and outbound client service personnel for selecting the course of greatest success for investment decisions or product offerings. These suggestions are based on internal performance data gathered across the firm with respect to the customer profile information.
For the crowd, a relationship with their wealth manager is less likely to be dependent on personal touch and more likely to be based on the quality of the intelligence they receive, the speed of response they get and how proactive the firm can be. Much of that will be dependent upon the quality of the personal information that the firm keeps on its customers. While this translates to the need for good CRM systems, document management, and so on; it also requires soliciting the best practices advisors already employ and automating them into the in-house systems.
For the traditional investment customer, wealth managers would deem absolute performance as the key performance indicator; usually to the detriment of everything else. The crowd, although still looking for strong returns, is more technologically savvy and resides in an accelerating world, which means:
Real-time Reporting - Portfolio performance data with very little latency that enables rapid decision making and that can be accessed at any time, on any device.
Visualization - Seamless representation of reports across a laptop, mobile phone, or a tablet. Some of the more advanced analytics tools in the industry - Opera, IBM, SAS, to name a few have stunning visual representations of portfolio data that enable the customer with deep drill down capabilities.
In almost all cases, people experience retail banking before private banking and it is the big banks that set the bar. The figure below depicts an approximation of the channels leveraged across the wealth management spectrum.
Banks will traditionally look at six channels: branches, ATMs, call centers, web, mobile and social media. Retail investment houses are not that dissimilar. Fidelity Investments, Charles Schwab, and T. Rowe Price all have store locations and instead of ATMs they have kiosks in those stores.
From a technical perspective, servicing all of these channels is relatively simple but may require a change in mindset for firms more traditionally working with HNW clients:
Self-Service - Crowd customers are impatient and technically astute. The firm will need to furnish customers with the ability to perform increasingly complex functions without delay and without the intervention of a company representative.
Start here, Finish Anywhere - Each customer will likely own a phone, a laptop, and a tablet. Firms need to ensure that customers can start their enquiries on one platform and have it seamlessly ported to another device.
Build once, deploy many - By consolidating development tools, a firm will become nimble enough to meet the ever changing needs of the crowd customer. Deployments across channels should be ‘built once, deployed to many’, speeding the time to market and decreasing the effort to support customers’ devices.