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Digital isn’t just a subset of products or services offered by banks and investment firms, but something that is central to how firms must do business now and in the future.

That was the message from Kelli Keough, global head of digital wealth management for JPMorgan Chase, who spoke Tuesday at SourceMedia’s In|Vest conference in New York.

“Digital is everything, and will continue to transform the industry,” she said. “We know clients choose firms based on the digital experience. If we don’t have a fantastic experience, we in our industry will lose clients to those that do.”

To highlight that point, Keough shared some sobering statistics. She noted that 73% of high net worth individuals say digital maturity is “very” or “somewhat” significant in their decision whether to increase assets with a wealth management firm. Even more tellingly, 66% of millennial investors say they have fired their family investors after receiving an inheritance due to a lack of tech capabilities, she noted.

When creating digital products, JPMorgan starts with “customer-centric design,” which includes soliciting extensive feedback from clients, Keough said.

“We ask people how they manage money, they share their spreadsheets and Post-it notes,” she said. “We talk to them about their fears and emotions and maybe why they aren’t saving or investing. Then we create solutions based on that.”

People want digital tools that are easy to use, Keough said. “They say, ‘Don’t overwhelm me with financial complexities and jargon,’” she added. “We can quickly make someone back away from our industry because they feel it’s inaccessible,” she said.

That is one reason why JPMorgan focuses on delivering information in a “snackable” way that gives clients small actions that they can take to achieve a financial goal, Keough said. The company relies heavily on data and analytics to provide these personalized, customized digital insights, she said.

“We have an enormous amount of data on customers,” she said. Using that data to offer up personalized insights might be considered “creepy,” Keough said, but in fact “our research shows that clients want us to use this data to help them manage their money better.”

Even though digital is integral to the client experience, money management and investing should not be entirely automated, Keough said. JPMorgan focuses on providing help and guidance even for clients who want a largely self-directed experience, she said.

“So we use digital to help advisers better provide help and guidance, and even in the self-directed space, we are infusing at the core of our digital tools guidance and help,” she said. “Just because somebody wants to invest on their own doesn’t mean we should leave them on their own.”

Ultimately, perhaps the greatest promise of digital financial services is greater financial inclusion and helping more people invest and save, Keough said.

“We as an industry have done a great job of serving the people who have the time and money to invest,” she said. “But digital has the power to provide tools for guidance and help regardless of how much money you have.”

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