The Great Wealth Transfer (GWT), as it is being called, will see roughly $68Tn in assets being passed down from the Baby Boomers to their heirs over the next two decades. And of this incredible amount of wealth, it is estimated that $22Tn will pass to women by the end of 2020 and will increase to $48Tn by 2030. This presents an unprecedented market opportunity for Asset and Wealth Management (AWM) firms over the next few years to positioning their firms to compete for these assets under management (AUM).
Understanding and addressing this market segment which is growing not only by inheritance, but by the fact that more women in executive roles are gaining wealth overall, will be a key success factor. So how do firms take advantage of this timely opportunity? I had a discussion with two of my partner / colleagues who offered some insight.
Sandy Ewing, a SVP of Private Banking at SEI in Oaks, PA sees this as a distinct opportunity in the market to leverage artificial intelligence solutions to evolve adept customer experiences based on personal preferences. Industry statistics report that less than 22% of women who will inherit money have a wealth management plan in place and more than 36% have no guidance at all1. A recent McKinsey report states that “Women in the United States - more so than men - seek hyper-personalized, outcome-based financial advice that meets their real-life goals”2. Sandy believes this leaves an opportunity for AWM firms to provide much needed highly personalized investment advisory services. But she was also quick to caution about treating women differently. The important thing, she says, is to inform women on the things they should be considering in a manner fitting to their circumstances. “Everyone wants advice, but no one wants to be told what to do with no real understanding of what their personal situation is,” she offered. Ewing further states that we should not fall into a “one-size-fits-all” or even “one-size-fits-most” category, but instead focus on each individual’s distinct needs and adapt the message for each person’s unique situation.
Jodi Amos, Co-Managing Partner in Pittsburgh’s 4Rivers Wealth Management offers a very similar perspective and approach. Jodi has a very successful 30-year career in wealth management and has seen many changes in investment strategies and philosophies over the years. Today, 30 - 40% of her client base are females with a mix of women in high-level executive positions and women who have inherited wealth. Jodi and her business partner spend much of their time trying to understand the psychological needs of this wealth segment. Her clients seem to focus on more emotional aspects of investing and searching for answers to questions like, “will I have enough money to last my lifetime”, “ will I be able to leave an inheritance to my children”, “ how can I leave money to my family yet consider family dynamics”. Many of her clients rely on her as a counselor, sharing the most intimate information about their wants, desires, needs and fears with respect to money matters. Jodi is quick to point out that the market ”is what it is” and that for the most part the returns are consistent across RIA firms to within a few percentage points assuming the same asset allocation. The real differentiator is the personal connection you make with your clients and the customer experience you provide to them through your business interactions. It is a rewarding experience to be able to provide comfort and stability in times of transition. Both Sandy and Jodi are quick to agree that more education is needed at an earlier age with respect to the value of money and planning for wealth. Each were quick to echo that there is a need to spend more time on just the basics of money management across all market segments.
While both believe that this wealth transfer presents some unique challenges, they also agree that this market segment has a distinct preference for Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) investments versus the traditional “sin stocks” such as tobacco, alcohol, fossil fuels and gambling. ESG investments have grown in popularity over the last decade as now more than $30Tn has been invested in ESG assets worldwide. The attraction is that they fulfill the needs of the values-driven investor who generally avoid products and companies due to their environmental impact, who boycott brands because they don’t align with their beliefs and ideals and are concerned about investing in companies with a poor social reputation. And the ESG market is growing every day; Zurich Insurance just announced committing to a zero-emissions portfolio by 2050 to combat climate change through responsible investing. A report by New York Life in 2019 maintains that all age groups across all wealth brackets consider ESG implications when deciding to invest. The same report also maintains that 56% of the investors in ESG are women, whose decisions were driven by a strong connection to their investment advisors’ recommendations.
The common thread running through the discussion is that there is a requirement for a highly personalized interaction between the investment advisor and the client. Consequently, new technology tools that leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning to sift through vast amounts of information are becoming more important in helping to make investment recommendations. Cognitive technology advances may never replace the psychology behind the personal connection but using intelligent “knowledge-workers” and “digital-assistants” can provide much required contextual insight and hard data to justify decisions with velocity and with hyper-personalized attention. And, for those that want to ride the wave of competitive advantage, the digital-first philosophy is rapidly being replaced by an advanced AI-first philosophy.
3 Key Strategic Take-Aways for AWM firms.
- Invest in advances in analytics - Nothing can replace insight and understanding of your customer and their needs. The only way to create a meaningful customer experience/relationship that lasts is to invest in knowing your client’s life. The best way to assist the inheritors of the great wealth transfer is to understand and anticipate their unique motivations.
- Provide for the option for social investing - ESG investing is not only good business, it is a good investment with returns equaling other investments. Socially responsible investing is popular with the Great Wealth Transfer segment and continues to gain preference across all segments.
- Invest in Digital Assistants - Gathering research and information to use to develop investment portfolios is time consuming and expensive. AI and ML assistance can quickly sift through vast amounts of intelligence and help to match investments suggestions to client risk tolerances and preferences and to provide options for predictive and prescriptive offerings.
One of the greatest opportunities for AWM firms to take advantage of advanced technologies to allow them to understand behavioral insights of a specific market segment is upon us. Sandy, Jodi and their firms understand the importance of leveraging the power of intelligent systems to augment the personal touch. The Great Wealth Transfer is giving the market the chance to evolve to a higher level of intimacy but not without creating new velocities of competitive pressures for organizations to “adapt” or be “left behind”.
How can Coforge help?
At Coforge we excel at asking the right questions that allow us to help AWM firms solve their most pressing business problems. With our strong domain expertise across front, middle and back office operations, Coforge will create competitive advantage, increase AUM, drive Alpha and create new avenues of revenue for your firm by leveraging advanced analytics, data excellence, automated robotic processes and digital assistants to create a differentiated customer experience that augments and enhances human interaction. We have a unique suite of AWM Intelligent AI and Digital-First technologies that provide the contextual insight and tools you need to service clients in today’s business environment. Coforge’s reputation for differentiation-driven-growth is built upon 30+ years of co-innovation, co-investment and a strong commitment to delivery for our clients. With best-in-industry Net Promotor Scores#3, it’s why we have 25-year client relationships that continue to rely upon us to help them grow. We understand your business. We understand your clients.
We are Creative, Bold, Committed. We are Coforge.
- Women and Wealth Transfer, 2017 Wealth Transfer Report
- "Women as the next wave of growth in US wealth management,” McKinsey & Company, July 29, 2020
- 2020 Coforge Banking and Financial Services Net Promotor Score - 77