Article courtesy of Meredith Odgers, Qstream.

Wealth managers need to adapt, and fast. With market disruptors such as iBanks, direct market access platforms enabling self-managed trading, and shrinking margins from low-fee investment vehicles such as ETFs, the traditional advisory model is under threat.

While it’s true that the digitalization of the banking system helps customers self-manage a greater portion of their investment portfolio, savvy investors still yearn for trusted financial advice. They want to talk to a person who understands their financial goals throughout life’s milestones, and has the investment products to help attain them. Whether buying a new home, sending children to university, or planning for retirement, a machine cannot grasp the sensitivities – and often anxiousness – a customer may have when it comes to meeting their investment goals. But a human can.

As robo-advice and self-service online kiosks continue to emerge, banks are needing to shift gears quickly and think about their best assets: their advisors.

1. Be Prepared for a New Generation of Affluents

With Generation X and Millennials soon controlling over half of all investable assets, traditional brick-and-mortar wealth managers will need new skills to cater to this tech savvy, mobile generation of affluents. Already, banks are recognizing the need to build a new generation of wealth advisors to adapt advice and service messages to the unique needs of a new breed of customer.

It will be necessary to deliver programs that help wealth management advisors reshape traditional onboarding conversations and speak the language of the next generation, keeping them engaged to uncover new investment goals as wealth builds. This, after all, could be a lifelong customer journey from young adulthood through to retirement.

How can wealth management leaders help advisors focus on delivering customer value, knowing which products to suggest and when? How can they leverage new technology platforms available to them to deliver this advice? And, how can advisors do all this while meeting the multitude of mandated regulatory and internal compliance checks?

2. Create a Unified Customer Experience

Among other benefits, the digitalization of the customer experience has widened the number of advice delivery channels. Whether a customer is in-branch, on a banking portal, using a mobile banking app or with their relationship manager, a unified customer service model is key to delivering consistent, accurate financial advice to customers anytime, anywhere. Regardless of the channel, private investors still place high value on a personalized relationship with their advisor, helping them make sense of automated investment advice and to weigh up alternatives.

There is a skill to shaping this level of trusted advice. Advisors need to strike a balance between customer needs and corporate objectives to build a multi-product banking relationship. This is in addition to adhering to operational and compliance procedures, delivering corporate messages and understanding the full product suite available. There is a lot to take in, especially for new advisors. The solution lies in the ability of enablement managers to help advisors retain the greatest amount of knowledge from classroom training and eLearning programs, and apply relevant details in customer conversations.

3. Shape Conversations that Help Customers Meet Their Goals

By some accounts, nearly as much as 80% of growth for wealth managers comes from existing customers. That makes the cost of new customer acquisition incredibly high in comparison. The cost can be exacerbated with increasingly stringent and lengthy Know Your Customer (KYC) procedures, all while impacting customer experience.

According to Thomson Reuters’ KYC Survey, 30% of corporate respondents claimed it took more than two months to be onboarded as clients, while 10% reported an onboarding process exceeding four months. A parallel survey of corporate customers found that 89% did not have a good KYC experience, and 13% changed their financial institution relationship as a result.

Arming advisors with the skill set and know-how to onboard new customers efficiently is critical to shortening account opening times. If a quality customer experience standard is set from the start, advisors have a good foundation to immediately engage customers in regular and meaningful conversations that work through short, medium and long-term investment goals. By triggering personalized investment recommendations and products, wealth management advisors can keep pace with changing customer needs and continually create value for the customer.

While it seems we’re asking advisors to become super human, a high-quality customer experience can be the one big thing that separates a good wealth manager from a great wealth manager – for life.

Does this resonate with you? Contact us today to find out how we can help.