Wealth Management in the Digital Age: Putting the User at the Centre
Investor’s expectations are changing rapidly. When it comes to wealth management, today’s investors demand slick and engaging digital experiences that offer convenience and personalisation. To remain competitive, wealth-management firms must prioritise user experience. They need to take the time – and obtain the necessary tools – to understand clients’ needs and create tailored solutions to match. But how do you understand and meet your clients’ needs? What do today’s investors expect?
Design Thinking and the Digital Revolution
Design thinking is a methodology that puts the user at the centre. It means the first step in creating any solution is to establish the client need that you are addressing. But you can’t rely on your assumptions alone; end-users need to be involved throughout – from setting the initial requirements to testing prototypes and beyond. It is no coincidence that alongside the rise of design thinking, we have experienced a digital revolution, which – particularly in sectors such as financial services – has increased competition and opened up new opportunities for organisations to interact with clients.
For wealth-management firms, introducing digital products that embrace design thinking can allow firms to streamline investor onboarding, appeal to new users and increase scalability. The success of mobile-first financial service companies – from robo-advisors Betterment and Wealthfront to challenger banks Monzo and Revolut – is testament to this.
Understanding Your Clients’ Needs
Empathy is central to design thinking. Focus on understanding who your clients are and their motivations, and always consider how they might respond to or interpret product design decisions – such as a particular graphic or the number of clicks it takes to access certain information.
Consider how your clients might respond to or interpret product design decisions – such as a particular graphic or the number of clicks it takes to access certain information.
A useful technique for helping establish how different users might interact with your product and what they want to get out of it is to create customer personas: fictional representations of your user types, which could include information such as their aspirations and what their typical day involves.
One of the great benefits of digital tools is the wealth of usage data you have at your fingertips. Use this data to measure progress towards key performance indicators – such as the number of daily users – inform your future product development decisions, and identify problem areas – such as actions that are taking longer than a user might expect.
However, understanding your clients’ needs can not be a purely internal process. Ongoing and proactive client engagement – for instance, through advisory panels, pilot programmes or surveys – to gain their input is also key.
Meeting the Needs of Today’s Investors
People have become accustomed to using mobile devices to do everything from listening to music to turning the heating on. Managing their wealth is no exception.
A recent report from Accenture found that 70% of High Net Worth and Ultra-High Net Worth customers use digital financial services and 85% use at least three mobile devices. More than 40% were open to using mobile technology to check their portfolios.
Not only can mobile apps help your product appeal to new users – such as tech-savvy millennial investors – they can streamline the onboarding process by, for instance, utilising the device’s camera for identity verification rather than in-person or paper-based methods.
As part of a project with a private investment firm, Devexperts created an iPad version of their retirement planning software, implemented after just eight months. This dramatically improved customer engagement with advisors during the field sales process. But it also significantly improved customer experience because retirees could now track their balance and flow of funds in a way that fitted in seamlessly with their lifestyle.
Personalisation, Automation, and Chatbots
Most wealth-management firms will find a diversity of needs and preferences within their client base. Users expect to receive recommendations tailored individually to them, which can now be done, at least in part, through automated solutions that analyse market trends and user behaviour – making the personal touch investors expect highly scalable.
Within the wealth management industry, areas that involve considerable repetition such as onboarding, compliance and front-line customer support are all ripe for automation.
These automated solutions include chatbots that use artificial intelligence to perform complex tasks, understand client’s needs and offer tailored responses and suggestions. They can be text- or voice-based and used by clients, for example, to access their portfolio summaries and find answers to FAQs. By reducing the need for wealth managers’ input and increasing self-service, costs are reduced and users can find the information they need instantly.
The success of these solutions is already apparent, with the Bank of America reporting that their virtual assistant, Erica, “completed over 50 million client requests” just 12 months after launch. Within the wealth management industry, areas that involve considerable repetition such as onboarding, compliance and front-line customer support are all ripe for automation. However, human advisors still play a key role; users still don’t fully trust automated systems, and research has shown that investors prefer a hybrid model of humans and robots, with “only 8% of respondents believing robo-platforms can deliver customized advice”.
We process visual information much more effectively than textual data. Investors want interactive, graphical representations of performance and trends. At Devexperts, we recently created a new portfolio management solution for a private investment firm in the US that featured visualisations of portfolio information that changed based on the advisor’s demands. A year after the solution’s introduction, the firm reached a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 17%, and net flow grew by 245%.
Notifications – such as alerts, emails, and messages – are critical for engaging your users and keeping them up-to-date. In the world of investing, where timing can be everything, notifications take on particular significance.
Users expect to receive recommendations tailored individually to them, which can now be done, at least in part, through automated solutions that analyse market trends and user behaviour
Keeping with the trend towards personalisation discussed above, the type, frequency and triggers of notifications should be customisable by the user. But the notifications should also be informed by user behaviour; for instance, using artificial intelligence to identify that a user is regularly accessing particular information and offering updates to this information as a push notification.
Short, Intuitive User Journeys
From onboarding to viewing their portfolios and finding out about key market trends, users want to be able to perform actions in just a few clicks.
Simplicity is key and avoiding jargon will help your product appeal to a wider audience.
Security is understandably a top priority for investors, with nearly 60% of wealth managers reporting that their clients are concerned about data breaches and cybercrime. Furthermore, data breaches seriously impact a company’s bottom line and reputation. Research by the Ponemon Institute found that the average total cost of a breach to organisations in 2019 was $3.92m.
To allay fears, you should integrate two-step authentication and biometric security features such as fingerprint and facial recognition – both of which are now readily available on modern mobile devices.
In the era of personalisation, customers don’t want to have to adapt their business processes or lifestyle to fit an off-the-shelf solution – and they shouldn’t have to. Obtaining a deep understanding of your clients and developing a flexible, tailored wealth-management solution is key to acquiring, delighting and retaining clients. Purpose-built, modular financial platforms mean these solutions can be realised quicker than you might think.
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