Wealth managers are as prone as any group to search for a silver bullet that will magically transform their business (maybe more so). Technology is increasingly one of those silver bullets, but the payoff can be elusive.
Social, Big Data, Mobile and Tablets are but a few of the currently popular buzzwords, and we happen to be big fans of all of them for various reasons. But merely implementing a piece of technology without the context of delivering true value to your clients will typically be an expensively disappointing project. Several months ago our CEO JP Nicols wrote a post on his personal blog entitled “Remember When Laptops Revolutionized Financial Services?“, and the punchline, was “Me neither.”
In the post was a link to an infographic by Propelics on the Enterprise iPad Adoption Value Gap which described the gap between the high expectations and and longer growth curve of real value. In another post, JP wrote about Gartner‘s ‘hype cycle’ and the valley of despair (aka “Trough of Disillusionment”) as the gravity of reality pulls adopters from the lofty expectations of new technologies.
What do clients think?
So it should come as no surprise that Finextra recently reported on a YouGov survey in which 76% of 1000 high net individuals said “it’s not a focus on technology they want, but a one to one personal service.” The article also cited a separate study by Duncan Lawrie Private Bank of 350 wealthy individuals, in which only 12% “said that the introduction of new technologies and innovations would make them switch banking provider.”
“It seems that the key for banks to trying to re-establish their customer’s faith and loyalty is to sit down and talk,” YouGov is quoted as saying in its summary of the results. Does this mean that all clients really want after all is a face-to-face personal relationship with their advisor, new fangled technology be damned?
As much as this might be welcome news to legions of baby boomer financial advisors, we don’t think so.
We have not examined the raw data of either of those surveys, but based on other research and our industry and client experience, we don’t believe clients are saying “don’t give us technology”, but rather ”don’t think that implementing technology alone will cause us to be happy with your firm”.
On the clients’ terms
Delivering personalized service and advice that is relevant and useful on the clients’ terms is what is needed, irrespective of technology. Many firms fail at this despite using technology that is only an upgrade or two from the set of Mad Men.
We have yet to yearn for a good old one-on-one meeting with our Google representative in his office, but we do believe that technology should support and enhance the advisor-client relationship
While we heartily agree that technology alone is not enough for the majority of clients to feel value (or valued) from their wealth management firm, we do believe that some in the industry are employing a lot of wishful thinking in interpreting the results of such surveys. Executives at Blockbuster probably felt the same way.
Banker Jones and the Last Crusade: Is Wealth Management the New Holy Grail? (Affluent Strategies by JP Nicols)