Voices

Coronavirus-fueled digital breakthroughs for 2021

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Before 2020, most firms used digital technology as a client retention strategy; those that really embraced digital used it to create new revenue streams, attract new clients with new offerings and generate value for their firms.

Then came the coronavirus, forcing the hands of all wealth managers to expedite their efforts.

And, to different extents, they have. In 2020, we’ve seen our clients increase new client acquisition via online account opening by 28%; their digital pre-client engagement by 25%; and their existing digital client engagement rise by more than 30%, on average.

But along with this mobilization and the changing, pandemic-driven priorities of their clients came another realization for advisors: that they must use their expanded digital engagement to deliver holistic financial advice.

The next group of value creators is looking at how they can apply digital to create deeper relationships at scale with tools for holistic wellness. They know that this will help advisors resist the dual threats of fee compression and commoditization; it ensures they will keep close to clients and create memorable experiences that translate seamlessly and convey true empathy across online and in-person environments.

Widening the aperture

What’s needed is manifested in a simple principle that I call “new think,” which holds that digital transformation starts with the user and must be geared around what the user can see and do — the client experience.

By employing new think, all advisors can attain deeper relationships, new revenue possibilities and greater value across their business through and beyond the pandemic.

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This means widening the aperture to allow clients to visualize their future needs and wants, all while considering the impact on their finances, health and overall quality of life with digitally enabled goals-based planning tools.

In short, offering a truly complete view of the client that takes into account the “why” of their finances as well as the “how” and “how much.”

Empathy at scale

The crucial psychological side effect of holistic advice is that it gives clients a sense of relief and security because it allows them to feel that they are being taken care of and empowered by someone with an intimate knowledge of their needs.

To achieve this level of personalization, reach and empathy at scale, digital must be a component of any holistic solution. It requires an integrated, end-to-end experience where the information flows freely from pre-client portals, to live client platforms, to the advisor’s view.

In late 2019, J.D. Power’s U.S. Wealth Management Mobile App Satisfaction Study showed that such financial advisors’ apps fell far below client expectations — 64% of those surveyed said they found communication functions hard to use.

If your clients weren’t happy with your digital communicationbefore COVID-19 and the increased emphasis on digital enablement it has required, how can your digital offering solve their current challenges today — never mind in the future?

Beyond the pandemic

When combined with the power of behavioral science, decision theory and data science, the increase in client engagement, retention, growth and operational efficiency creates new believers and new opportunities.

Such a structure also gives clients the opportunity to interact in their own time, in the place of their choosing and with an advisor they feel understands how to deliver the best outcomes.

Such a structure also gives clients the opportunity to interact in their own time, in the place of their choosing and with an advisor they feel understands how to deliver the best outcomes.

By employing new think, advisors can expect deeper relationships, new revenue possibilities and greater value across their business through and beyond the pandemic.

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Coronavirus Fintech Practice management Analytics INVEST West 2020
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