How Wealth Managers Can Use Digital Advice to Better Serve HNWIs

For many, digital advice in the context of wealth management refers to robo-advisors and digital tools that serve a mass-affluent, younger and more digitally savvy client base. However, the value digital advice brings and to whom, reaches much farther.

Yaela Shamberg, Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer at InvestCloud, offers Finance Monthly her insight on how wealth managers can engage investors with digital solutions.

The Desire for Digital

As wealth managers face the pressure of the race to zero fees in an increasingly competitive marketplace, they are looking for ways to mitigate these threats while simultaneously preparing for the oncoming wealth transfer. Recent research from IQ-EQ has revealed that $15 trillion USD is to be passed to Millennials, Gen X and Y in the next decade – triggering a new era of high net worth individuals (HNWIs) who are digital natives that expect online wealth management portals with cutting edge tools.

Digital advice tools for HNWIs have been available for some time, but few have proved ideal for this client base. This is because wealth managers are asking the wrong questions. When it comes to finding suitable digital tools, they are looking for a one-size-fits-all digital solution, when in truth, they would never think to offer an impersonalised service to clients offline. What they need are solutions that enable the same level of personalisation and understanding to the individual that they would provide face-to-face – creating true digital empathy.

Introducing Personas

Those who have been successful in their digital transformation are achieving this by developing multiple ‘digital personas’ that provide their clients with individual experiences and functionalities which speak to their characteristics and goals. This improves the client-manager relationship, as the client feels they are receiving a more tailored service that allows them to interact with their wealth in the ways that they want to. The number of personas one offers may differ depending on how much a firm wants to invest in developing digital experiences, and the diversity of its clients. Nevertheless, the requirements of HNWIs can be roughly split into three personas, which must be catered to at a basic level.

Those who have been successful in their digital transformation are achieving this by developing multiple ‘digital personas’ that provide their clients with individual experiences and functionalities which speak to their characteristics and goals.

The Hands-On Investor

The hands-on investor requires a self-select persona. They know about the financial markets and want to be involved in the investing process. Some may even want to make all of their financial decisions independently. For this demographic, tools to browse, research and self-select their chosen investments are crucial – enabling them to build their own models and feel involved in their investment process.

But this does not rule out the wealth manager. They must curate investment options, enabling the investor to filter through them by topic, trend or through insight into what their communities are selecting. Communicating with this type of persona must respect their mindset and preferences, by being on their terms. Having a variety of channels available such as chat, video calling and voice memos, enables the investor to choose how and when to interact with their wealth manager.

The Life Planner

The life planner needs to be catered to with a goals-based planning persona. To them, investments are a means to a very specific end – and they need a holistic service that takes into account their entire financial wellbeing. This means managers must pay close attention to their clients’ investment goals and understand exactly what they want to achieve and why. This breaks down to understanding their goal funding, their risk tolerance and a number of other factors.

This begins with empathetic discovery – meaning digital workflows that clarify investment goals including questionnaires and capturing total assets and liabilities, income and expenses, projecting cashflows and applying stochastic models. Once onboarded, the wealth manager needs to be constantly communicating with the client so that they can keep track of their progress as they approach life goals. They also need digital tools that help them visualise their progress such as charts and trackers.

Once onboarded, the wealth manager needs to be constantly communicating with the client so that they can keep track of their progress as they approach life goals.

The Traditionalist

There are absolutely still those who fall into the client segment that tend to prefer a “white glove” service from prestigious wealth managers and therefore require a traditional persona. These clients are typically ultra-high-net-worth individuals (UHNWIs) who require greater assistance from their wealth manager when choosing investments, and like these to be laid out in formal proposals.

These clients need a high level of customisation, which can be time-consuming. Digital advice builder tools come into play here as they enable automation, giving the wealth manager the ability to tailor portfolios to the client’s short and long-term goals and thematic interests quickly and efficiently. This frees up time that the wealth manager can now spend focusing on maximising profitability and tasks that add value. Then, these portfolios can be presented in the form of beautifully designed proposals which demonstrate greater empathy for the client’s preferences.

Making Digital Advice ‘Stick’

Providing a wealth management service through the medium of tailored personas is a digital engagement strategy that enables greater digital empathy. But once the wealth manager has made this personalised service available, how can they make it ‘stick’ and keep clients coming back to their digital portals?

One way managers can keep clients coming back is by deploying gamification principles throughout the client experience – through which we can encourage greater and more active participation by implementing progression dynamics and establishing communities to help investors progress and learn. This is particularly useful for the self-selecting investor as it keeps the wealth management firm front and centre without being unnecessarily high-touch.

It can also be used to encourage positive behaviour from life planners, who can track their progress and be ‘rewarded’ when they enter useful information or complete certain actions within a desired timeframe. Establishing a community also enables them to gain insights into how their peers are progressing with their own investing goals. Keeping clients engaged in this way translates to longer-term loyalty, which in turn means greater profitability for the wealth management firm.

For wealth management firms already using digital advice tools for other client segments, these can easily be expanded upon for HNWI demographics. Through a combination of personalised personas and behavioural science techniques to encourage loyalty and build trust, managers can service clients more effectively whilst taking advantage of automation that frees up time to take on new clients.

Digital Is Here

Regardless of investor types and personas, the future of digital offerings – for all – is here and with that comes a need to deploy digital empathy, tools and advice which enrich client lives. The use of thoughtful digital advice, seamlessly integrated into client portals and intuitive mobile apps, brings opportunities to uplevel client offerings, and match the premier services and tools they’ve come to expect from their wealth managers.

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