Three Ways Technology is Galvanising Client Engagement
Traditionally an annual review with a smattering of touchpoints over the year has been sufficient to retain an established customer base, but high net worth individuals’ (HNWIs) evolving expectations mean that old loyalties count for less than the lure of dynamic new market entrants. As we hurtle into a new decade many wealth managers are really feeling the pressure to demonstrate greater levels of customer care and deliver an all-round lifelong enhanced customer experience.
Digital technologies could provide the key to improve existing practices, finding and retaining valuable business and ultimately delivering a more compelling customer experience. Co-Founder and Head of Strategy at Finantix, Alessandro Tonchia outlines three scenarios where digital solutions are helping wealth managers up their game.
Client profiling beyond the honeymoon period
The onboarding process is the point at which wealth management firms can learn the most about their clients in one go. Not just because of the practical reason of the sign up process, but psychologically speaking – whether it is the first time they have engaged a wealth manager or they are moving from a long-standing relationship elsewhere, they are much more likely to be open and eager to talk about their goals, aspirations and expectations. It is therefore vital that wealth managers extract information on their client’s lifestyle, passions, concerns and goals as early as possible to create the most accurate profile so they can start as they mean to go on.
In an ideal world, this kind of profiling will inform all decisions that are made on behalf of the client for years to come. But as we all know, life isn’t that simple. The truth of the matter is that as soon as the client leaves that first meeting, it is possible that one or more pieces of information they have just provided could change.
The responsibility of keeping client information up to date often lies on relationship managers’ (RM) shoulders, but there are a number of sources that can also help them that are being underutilised, often due to the constraints of legacy systems. By using technology that complements what is already in place and to smartly apply analytics across a wide range of data sources related to clients’ profiles, wealth managers can maintain understanding of their clients far beyond the honeymoon period. With this kind of technology, events relevant to specific individual clients can be searched for simultaneously, across multiple data sources in real time using artificial intelligence (AI).
The living and breathing usage of data to provide actionable insights, saves precious RM time to provide the best possible level of service and also grant priceless peace of mind, ensuring any and all risk is flagged and acted upon in the most appropriate way.
Reaping the benefits of a truly customer-first CRM
When Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems were introduced in the mid-90s, they revolutionised the way firms interacted with their existing and potential clients, allowing them to consolidate contacts, leads, and opportunities in a more streamlined way than ever before.
CRM tools have evolved immeasurably over the last 25 years to factor in changes in customer behaviour and the explosion of data and are still changing the game for industries that have relatively straightforward transactional customer requirements, such as consumer businesses. However, when it comes to industries like wealth management, where intangible elements are being sold, including cash flow and risk mitigation along a financial lifecycle, effective CRM becomes more difficult to obtain.
Wealth management firms today need technology that allows a client-first perspective. What that means in practice is a system that can generate touchpoints when the client needs them, for example, when the markets are moving in a negative way or when the client has a life event that would require some rethinking of their current investment strategy. Tracking this kind of information requires linkages to portfolios, products and performance that generic CRMs alone just can’t facilitate.
Upon realising the limitations of ‘broad brush’ CRMs, some wealth management firms have made further investment into technology to fill in the blanks e.g. portfolio management or market information. This approach gets closer to obtaining the kind of client-centric, proactive sales and advice symbiosis needed to make the new wealth management client engagement model happen. If those disparate systems don’t interact with each other, these firms are forced to take a piecemeal approach. To ensure prior technology investment isn’t made in vain, the best course of action in this case is to work with providers who have the specialist knowledge of getting these systems working in harmony to create an environment that captures complex and evolving information throughout the client lifecycle.
Technology can do the heavy lifting, so you can focus on the value add
Once the aforementioned client information is obtained, it can be used in an abundance of ways to enrich clients’ experiences and shape every single touchpoint. Many practitioners may read this and think that is all well and good in theory, but what happens in reality? One could argue, a nigh on impossible task when applied to the entire client base. An understandable viewpoint when you learn the sheer extent of portfolios that are being looked after per RM at any one time. Research shows a quarter of UK RMs serve 51-100 clients each and 15% even more, while in Asia’s premier banking segment ratios of 400:1 are common.
This is where technology underpinned by AI can add considerable value. AI can lift much of the burden on RMs by automating compilations of reporting information and even preparing agendas for discussion using the status of clients’ investments, content of past interactions, the firm’s current investment thinking and any other relevant information. It can even eliminate menial tasks, making appointment setting and collating emails in preparation for a meeting a thing of the past.
The new model of customer engagement is no doubt only possible with an injection of digital technology, but that needn’t mean ripping existing systems out and starting from scratch. There are ways of dynamically linking client data to financial events and opportunities with minimal disruption, enabling wealth management firms to achieve the ultimate aim – making each and every client feel like they are the only ones that matter.
About Alessandro Tonchia
Alessandro Tonchia is one of Finantix’s co-founders, and as head of strategy focuses on the company’s growth and overall direction. He is responsible for communications with major clients, business partners and analysts worldwide. Alessandro has represented Finantix in various capacities related to product development and global account management, and has been responsible for the implementation of wealth management platforms. Before establishing Finantix, Alessandro was a consultant specialising in the areas of process management and CRM.
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Robinhood faces $35mn fine from New York DFS
The company’s crypto division was issued with a wrist slap in 2020, following the red flagging of several “matters requiring attention”. Robinhood revealed it had reached a settlement with the New York State Department of Financial Services regarding the issues, which related to “alleged violations” of cybersecurity and anti-money laundering rules.
The news follows on from the announcement earlier this week that the trading platform favoured by armchair investors, which almost broke Wall Street earlier this year, has an expected valuation of $35bn following its IPO.
Critics of the platform say Robinhood encourages “risky behaviour” among inexperienced (armchair) investors. The app has also been criticised for not informing customers that much of its profits are generated by routing their trades to Wall Street firms taking the other side, or so-called "payment for order flow."
Robinhood said last month they expected the DFS fine to be at the $15mn mark, adding it would be “the bottom of the range for our probable loss in this matter”. The $35mn penalty is on top of the record $70mn Robinhood incurred from US financial regulator FINRA in June, for “lax vetting and outages.”
However, the settlement indicates the company’s IPO will go ahead as planned, despite initial concerns the investigation could see the float delayed until later this year.
Robinhood floats imminent
Despite the regulatory hiccups, Robinhood priced its IPO between US$38-US$42 per share, giving the platform the US$35bn valuation and analysts predict the firm’s debut on the Nasdaq could occur as early as next week.
Robinhood democratising investment
Launched in 2013 by Tenev and Bhatt, who were Stanford University roommates, Robinhood’s founders will retain most of the voting rights after the IPO. Bhatt reportedly holds 39% of the voting power of outstanding stock, while Tenev holds 26.2%.
The online brokerage, which came under fire for its handling of the GameStop trading debacle, which saw the platform limit stocks to investors, states its mission is to “democratise” investing and is one of the most highly anticipated IPOs of the year.
Robinhood was valued at $11.7bn in autumn 2020 following a private equity funding drive. The new valuation will mean represent a three-fold increase in the company’s market value in less than 12 months.