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Wealth Management Firms: Here’s How to Maximize Digital Investment with Household-Based Insights

Dana McClure

Principal, Business Consulting
Blog
  • Financial Services

By now, we have learned that digital enablement in the wealth management industry is yesterday’s challenge. Many firms that may have been slow to adapt at the start are finally capitalizing on digital tools’ abilities to improve client experience, help scale business models and pave the way for new revenue streams. Acquisitions of startups and FinTech adoption are at an all-time high, putting many of those firms with integrated digital offerings at a significant advantage to meet clients where, when and how they want to conduct business.    

Financial advisors at these firms typically report a high interest in leveraging a hybrid digital service model, as they greatly appreciate the scale and client convenience gained from converting face-to-face or phone-based meetings over to digital collaboration and investment services. The problem most advisors face is that many platform capabilities vary widely. For the most part, traditional wealth firms have been most recently focused on improving three main areas: 

  1. Enhancing engagement and collaboration
  2. Increasing advisor and regulatory-based operational efficiency
  3. Expanding portfolio management and investing capabilities

Firms will often make strategic siloed investment in one of these areas, not necessarily all three, and certainly not at the same time or level of priority. As a result, clients are largely benefiting from individual modernized tools or experiences at any given time, but with little overall impact to their end-to-end financial journey. It begs the question: how are these digital enhancements being used comprehensively together to help both advisors and clients thrive in the long term?

Tying It All Together

Client expectations of advisory services are evolving beyond product and investments, including more wholistic budgeting, liabilities, expenses, property and financial literacy concerns—all of which can shift year to year. If today’s wealth management trends are the barometer, the next few years will likely need to focus on large data-driven solutions to feed personalization and intelligent actionable insights within the practice management model. More specifically though, firms will need to focus this on households and communities rather than solely focusing on individual clients. Household data, when layered with collaborative feedback and social interactive models, will be the driving factor for next-generation product, investment and advice-based recommendations.   

Similar to sustainable investing trends, there is interest in creating sustainable and resilient households with advisors acting as financial coaches and mentors, building personal brands and trust by helping families set objectives and preferences that are inclusive of information-savvy younger children. Advisors can collaborate with families on financial values, how they collectively want to make a difference with their savings over time or reduce their carbon footprint. This purpose-driven approach offers multiple benefits to both advisors and clients.

Data-driven recommendation platforms for advisors can serve as business dashboards, reflecting client engagement scores and peer benchmark comparisons, and can also include segmentation and retention strategies based on household or group values. Personalized dashboards can encourage advisors to set schedules for webinars, social media posts or blog and podcast thought leadership posts based on trending social and financial community topics. Marketing conversion rates point advisors back to sticky content strategies and highlight what types of digital content are resonating for each client segment. Daily alerts notify advisors on what actions have or have not been taken for each household, so they can try new approaches and keep existing clients engaged.   

Comprehensive digital calls-to-action for clients can meet them where they are based on risk, life stage and retirement, or lifestyle goals and personal values. With invitations from parents, children can have linked financial savings and investment products, customized for their age group and embedded with education and goal tracking. Family financial wellness scores and social benchmarking—using data from firm-wide spend, saving and investing patterns—will allow households to tweak behavior patterns on an ongoing basis. Essentially, a constant digital checkpoint to the broader question of “How are we doing based on all target goals?” instead of a limited “Am I saving enough for retirement?” allows for families to celebrate small wins along the way rather than one big moment.

Periodic reminders to clients about gaps within a financial plan, target goals or product set occur in real time, rather than them having to wait for an annual meeting with an advisor. Smart investing strategies can be communicated, and investment performance periodically measured against targets. As clients age closer to retirement, appropriate spend down and legacy planning can occur, with deaccumulation strategies or income-based portfolio recommendations delivered as digital “here’s what you should be thinking about next” education.

Conclusion

By taking a more wholistic and family values-based view of the digital practice management model, firms and advisory teams focusing on comprehensive data integration and recommendation engines across tools and services will not only achieve synergies by pooling content for collective and community-based decision making but will also keep all clients more engaged in the day-to-day collaborative process. When done correctly, it can be the perfect supplement to a human-centered trusted advisor relationship.

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