The Pendulum Has Swung: The New “Norm”​ of Client Expectations is Here to Stay

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As the younger generation begins to enter and embrace their prime earning years where they will join the ranks of the high-net-worth, they’re also bringing with them a new set of expectations.

A set of expectations that institutions and firms across financial services, and in particular wealth managers responsible for managing their financial life, must take seriously and pay very close attention to.

For institutions, firms, and financial services professionals everywhere, it all boils down to two key takeaways:

(1) First, is that clients expect products, services, and advice that is relevant and meaningful to THEM (seems obvious, doesn’t it?); and

(2) Second, digital capabilities are no longer a “nice-to-have”. Rather, digital capabilities have emerged as being core to the overall value proposition for today’s new generation of investors and high-net-worth clients. 

The second part is the glue to everything. And no, it isn’t new either.

The notion of embracing digital technologies to bring personalized experiences and elevate the digital client experience has been both discussed and evolving largely over the last several years. Seeing it play it and come to fruition, however, regardless of knowing about it, is catching some firms and their advisors off-guard.

Well, it’s evident that the pendulum (of client expectations and experiences) has officially swung… and is here to stay.

The Changing Dynamics

Consumer demands change and evolve rapidly, often as a result of emerging technology as well as the influence of personal and societal values.

This is no different in financial services, and in particular in wealth management, where decisions and outcomes are very personal to your clients. In fact, it’s that much more significant.

Banking, investing, and financial planning customers/clients crave relationships and long for being understood. Make no mistake about that.

This is why ensuring clients feel valued and are receiving great services, products, and advice that is relevant and personalized to them is fundamental to building long-term relationships with not only them in the immediate, but with family members for generations to come.

During a significant period in modern-day history where the largest movement of wealth is taking place in real-time to heirs, understanding and investing in delivering value to your clients and across the household cannot be stressed enough.

The Digital Client Experience needs to be prioritized across every single level of the organization. Plain and simple.

We’re seeing this play out in real-time.

Franklin Templeton’s recent survey in collaboration with Institutional Investor’s Custom Research Lab of more than 150 Registered Investment Advisors highlighted that 89% of RIAs agree that a high-quality, personalized digital client experience is an important competitive differentiator.

Insights Shared by Industry Experts

Our team recently connected with well-known industry experts to unpack how technology is impacting and influencing Personalization and the Digital Client Experience.

After speaking with each of the experts, it’s telling just how much of a role technology plays and will continue to play in shaping this new era of the client experience.

Julie Littlechild from Absolute Engagement shared this with us,

Technology is absolutely critical in facilitating a personalized experience. As we think about driving the experience, conversations, and communications down to the client level (or even delivering on a segmented basis) we need a way to capture, analyze and respond to client needs. That is a complex process but highlights one of the most interesting developments in that space and that is the ability to use technology to support an otherwise very human process.” 

Teresa Leno of FreshFinance chimed in with the following,

“The great wealth transfer has already begun and technology that provides personalized experiences is playing a huge role. If advisors want to continue advisory relationships with the next generation, they will have to utilize technology with personalization features to maintain AUM, it’s that simple.”

If you’re interested, you can read what other experts had to say on this topic here in a recent edition of The WealthTech Experience.

The Topic(s) in Every Boardroom

Personalization and the Digital Client Experience have become the largest topics of discussion in nearly every boardroom and these two themes certainly have certainly emerged as the highlight of every conference, summit, and event in the last 12-18 months.

Our team recently exhibited at the Schwab Advisor Services’ annual IMPACT conference where there were roughly 5,000 live attendees (with many more tuning in virtually).

During the opening ceremony and remarks, Bernie Clark and Walt Bettinger signaled just how significant personalization is and how this “theme” is central to everything in modern-day wealth management. Bettinger even called and compared the theme or personalization to a freight train for Advisors. Meaning this shift in consumer behavior and new client expectations are coming at Advisor faster than many may realize and acknowledge.

And that’s certainly true, it all starts and ends with the client.

Their needs, expectations, and importantly, the experience they have with the professionals, firms, and institutions responsible for managing their financial lives.

Those that invest in delivering value by creating personalized experiences and elevating the digital client experience will be the ones that reap benefits for generations to come.  

This new era of managing client expectations and delivering an elevated digital client experience is not only here to stay, it’s a new form of a digital moat that separates high-performing firms from the rest.

Which side of this digital moat will you be on?

The above is something all decision-makers everywhere must absolutely pay close attention to and consider as their organizations work on mapping out core strategic activities for the following years to come. 

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