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Financial Volatility: A Guidebook for Wealth Management CX

By Karen Oakland, VP, Financial Services Industry Marketing, Smart Communications

Managing client investment portfolios has never been easy for relationship managers who are always working to reduce client anxiety, but it has been particularly challenging in recent months. After years of uncertainty, rising and falling markets, alarm bells are ringing loud and clear as Q4 begins on the heels of numerous troublesome financial developments ranging from markets falling over 700 points in a single day into bear market territory, the British pound tumbling to a three decade low, and more. And thus, it isn’t surprising to see financial advisors desperately working to reassure customers and help them navigate this period as best as possible.

During economic downturns, it can be easy to be caught up in the day-to-day facts and figures that come with working in the wealth management space. But while it is important to keep one eye on evolving market conditions, it is equally as important to double down on an often overlooked component of financial management: delivering highly personalised customer communications.

It is certainly true that wealth managers need to work both faster and smarter during these challenging periods. However, if this comes at the expense of sacrificing the personal touch that clients need, what is the point? Granted, with an ever increasing plate of responsibilities, keeping up with customer communication needs is easier said than done. However, it certainly isn’t impossible.

With that in mind, below are some key things that wealth managers need to keep in mind during these chaotic financial times to ensure that they can deliver the best possible experience and guidance to their clients.

Do we have a 360-degree digital strategy?

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, many wealth management firms had to scramble to find new ways to engage clients without in-person meetings. Going digital means so much more than opening a Zoom account. From digital-first forms, automated document generation and e-signature to producing content to reach clients on TikTok and social channels, wealth management businesses have been investing in reducing friction and engaging clients 24/7 on their channels of choice. Having a robust and consistent presence across the digital world is not only viewed by consumers as a “nice to have,” but a key differentiator. This is especially critical when clients are on edge as their investments decline in value. Given how attuned customers have become to digital experience gaps, they will not waste time looking elsewhere for managers that provide them with the “always on” experience they deserve. At the same time, it’s critical that wealth firms make sure these digital communications are created and archived following compliance rules, or they risk significant penalties, such as those incurred by Bank of America and JP Morgan using WhatsApp.

Is our strategy cohesive and personalised?

Arguably the only thing worse than having no presence across digital platforms, is having a fragmented and confusing one. Today’s wealth management customers depend on having an easy-to-use and personalised experience so that they can make the best and most agile decisions possible. For example, a decade ago it may have been acceptable for wealth managers to rely on generic emails and mobile apps with limited functionality as the staples of their customer experience offering. Those days however are far in the rear view mirror. Instead, personalisation and ease-of-use have become king. This means allowing customers to navigate their entire account via their mobile app, enabling them to onboard on any device, view custom reports, and more. Most of us are accustomed to this type of digital experience when shopping, booking a ride share, or ordering food online. Wealth managers simply can no longer afford to offer customers a service experience that is limited and impersonal and hope to build trust and relationships.

Is it time to modernise the tech infrastructure?

Once a financial institution has decided where they need to improve their customer experience, IT, operations and customer experience teams need to work together to identify use cases where automation can turn a digital CX strategy into a reality. Despite that surge in digital transformation projects across the business world over the last several years, it is still commonplace for banks and investment firms to be using multiple outdated legacy on-premise software serving redundant use cases especially in customer communications. Simply put, without a modern technology infrastructure and advanced data science, it is virtually impossible for wealth managers to deliver an agile and comprehensive customer service experience. Modernising a company’s technology ecosystem not only brings added operational efficiencies at scale but also enables relationship managers to deliver a personalised experience to their customers at any time via any channel. Wealth management firms can create a dynamic environment where data is synthesised and shared across communications channels – from voice to mobile – so that the customer experience is seamless and friction free.

The last three years have been one of the most hectic periods ever for the wealth management industry. And as the markets continue to fluctuate, customer experience success will become a bigger and bigger priority. However, while the customer experience space become more intricate and expansive, by tackling these questions head-on, investment firms can meet both their immediate customer experience needs and lay the foundations for customer experience success for years to come.

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