The wealth management sector is undergoing a sea change, driven by next-gen technologies and evolving customer expectations. 60% of asset and wealth managers are apprehensive about losing business to new Fintech companies. And this fear is understandable—Fintechs are digital-born, comfortable with the use of technology, and can seamlessly navigate a customer's demand for personalization. On the other hand, traditional wealth management firms are held back by legacy infrastructure, large and complex service portfolios with intricate regulatory demands, and increasing competition for a customer’s loyalty.
Clearly, wealth management must develop powerful digital competencies to stay ahead in this shifting landscape. A big part of this is superior client reporting capabilities to garner trust and improve customer relationships while maintaining regulatory requirements. According to recent reports, better relationship management is vital to attracting and retaining customers today.
Why the Old Rules of Customer Engagement No Longer Apply
Historically, reporting has always been an effort-intensive process, requiring considerable input data, manual interventions, and time. This challenge is compounded by the growing need for customized reporting. In a survey by Investit, it was found that 64% of firms are facing rising demand for customization requests for Accounting Packs and 78% for Investment Reviews. 93% of investment firms are now trying to customize reports for clients, adding to the already substantial manual efforts.
For these reasons, automation has been suggested as a possible answer to reporting pain points. Automated technology can speedily gather data points, check for various parameters, and generate reports at minimal efforts. However, this introduces two new challenges—first, there is the inevitable absence of the human touch, which is so important to manager-client relationships. A majority of customers still want a human advisor to give them new investment ideas, and 57% felt that human advisors (even when connecting virtually) are best equipped for customization. Second, automation still has a long way to go to achieve the level of intelligence and adaptability needed. In the future, we can expect automated reporting tools that can deliver real-time reports with comprehensible insights along with drill-down capabilities—but this technology is still years away.
Given that automation is still in its early years, and customers continue to actively seek human advice, wealth management firms must consider new, tech-augmented ways of reaching out to their clients. This will combine the human factor and stringent security with the convenience enabled by automation and virtual collaboration.
Smart Videoconferencing with In-Line Text Could Be the Answer
Investment firms around the world are already using digital tools such as video and chat to expand their customer reach. With localized markets fast shrinking, it is important to acquire customers in new regions to maintain (and improve) the bottom line. However, this brings up several issues:
- Communicating with and reporting to remote clients could be difficult, given the highly regulated nature of the wealth management sector—not to mention, local laws.
- Constant written communication without any face-to-face interactions can erode customer trust, leaving them open to the risk of looking at more accessible wealth management options in their proximity.
- Linguistic barriers are a persistent challenge, delaying communication flows as translators and other stakeholders must constantly intervene.
- The highly dynamic nature of wealth management demands regular and near real-time reporting—a massive struggle for remotely connected manager-client relationships.
- Due to all of these issues, important details could be left out from reports, leading to miscommunication and faulty investment advice.
Despite these factors, video communication continues to be the only alternative for growth-focused wealth management firms as they try to strengthen customer relationships and grow their geographic footprint. This is why video communication was ranked as part of the “table stakes” in the wealth management digital framework.
The need of the hour, then, is to augment existing video communication capabilities to address these challenges. Wealth managers could potentially sustain customer relationships at virtually any location, without being held back by any of the five constraints listed above. An augmented video solution must include video “chat” services that allow customers to directly contact their manager via a web-based or app-based tool.
The new workflow scenario would be somewhat like this:
The customer requires a personalized report, outside of pre-defined reporting timelines. However, they would like human-generated advice rather than an automated report. Picking up the telephone or physically visiting the manager isn’t an easy option, given the vast geographic divide between the customer and the manager. Therefore, they simply log into the portal and initiate a video chat where they can directly pose a question. The wealth manager is immediately notified and answers the queries, ensuring a high degree of customization based on years of experience and a unique understanding of the customer at hand. And most importantly, the video would include an in-line text feature so that both parties are on the same page, without any locational or linguistic barriers.
Why the Time for More Transparent Communication is Right Now
Interestingly, video conferencing also comes under the broader umbrella of compliance that guides the wealth management sector. “When financial advisors use video conferencing to “meet” with clients, many of the same regulatory issues that pertain to social media apply. These include requirements to archive and supervise business communications and to manage information security and privacy,” said Robert Innes, Vice President & Associate General Counsel at Charles Schwab & Co. But keeping detailed records of every conversation conducted virtually is a painstaking and time-consuming process, and isn’t very conducive to quick data retrieval later on. In-line text generated from video in real-time would solve this challenge, in addition to enabling several other benefits like:
- A running text dialog line will ensure absolute clarity, eliminating any possible misunderstanding caused by cultural and linguistic differences.
- Persons of disability can also access written records of the communication, reinforcing trust and confidence.
- The manager can be sure of providing error-free advice, regardless of where they are located or the device from which they are operating.
- Every conversation becomes a conduit of client reporting, supplementing automated data reports with customized human advice.
- The customer can communicate their precise expectations to the manager, creating a more sustainable and profitable relationship for both parties.
We clearly recognize there is a significant opportunity for leveraging real-time tech during client-facing communications in wealth management. Our in-line text capabilities for video-conferencing would help take customer relationships to the next level, by not only converting voice to text in real-time but also dynamically translating across languages. This, we believe, will help breakdown legacy barriers to growth and innovation in the wealth management sector, maximizing per-customer ROI and cementing market leadership.