According to Salesforce’s Connected Financial Services Report, clients seek better experiences from their wealth managers, with 34 percent switching providers in the past year.
In fact, only 27 percent of clients are completely satisfied with the digital experiences provided by wealth managers. Clients today want to be able to access, manage and track their financial lives online, and that includes their financial plan.
This comes as no real surprise to us. Much of the technology used in the financial advice process has been designed and built for the advisor. We have modeling, portfolio management, risk tolerance, cash flow, and more tools to report on the client’s financial performance.
But is that really the experience clients want?
Let me put it this way: it’s like making Bruce Wayne’s accountant the hero of the Batman movies.
However, the reality is, Bruce Wayne’s millions are just a means to an end - that end being the ability to fund his vigilante endeavors.
Yes, managing this money is critical if Bruce wants to continue to be Batman, but we, as the audience, couldn’t care. And it’s much the same for the vast majority of clients.
The numbers are the hygiene. The facilitator. The engine. But it’s not what gets the client excited. We want to see the challenges we’ve overcome. The goals we’re striving to achieve.
And visualize our best lives now and into the future.
Sending them a client portal or digital experience that looks like an enhanced version of Excel isn’t going to cut it. That may be what we, as financial professionals, like. But it’s like seeing a movie about Batman’s accountant for most clients.
Improving the digital client experience
When it comes to looking for new tools or technologies to enhance the digital experience for clients, there are some important things to consider.
First: Has it been designed for the client first or for the advisor?
A lot of software has been designed for advisors with, what we’d call, a “client extension.” Essentially, it’s a simplified version of the financial tools advisors use. They are largely focused on financial metrics and performance with some tracking goals.
A client-first solution should be designed for the client. Showing them what they want to see: how their financial plan allows them to live the life they’ve always dreamed of.
And, we have to remember, not all clients are financial experts. Yes - some will want to monitor their portfolio’s performance, in most instances because they fancy themselves as a trader. But many are not.
That means digital experiences that are solely about the numbers are going to turn a lot of people off.
If your client portal is truly designed for the client, it will help to translate financial strategies into meaningful life outcomes. It will focus on life first, finances second. Providing an experience non-financial clients can engage with and participate in.
Now that’s a more meaningful digital experience than logging on to see how your investments are going. Where you log in to a platform to see how you’re progressing in life.
Second: Is it visual?
Clients want to see and understand the life outcomes they’ll achieve by adhering to their financial plan. This means bringing to life how their finances will align with their needs, wants, dreams and values.
We’ve previously talked about the importance of imagery in goal setting. But it’s equally important that we take a visual approach to every aspect of our financial plans.
Whether it be a visual to showcase how their legacy will be divided, how each strategy aligns with their values or how their progressing with their financial plan.
The more your client portal can meaningfully bring to life your financial strategies and how it relates to their life, the better understanding your client will have on what you’re trying to achieve together. They can visualize the real-life outcomes sound financial management will bring.
The better they can visualize their best life, the more likely they are to achieve their goals and the better overall experience they will have.
Third: Can they interact with their plan?
Lastly, clients want to be able to manage and interact with their plan through their digital experiences. This means your client portal must identify areas within the advice process that clients can meaningfully engage with without creating additional compliance requirements.
Does it have tools that help keep you informed on client progress toward their goals and whether they’ve changed? Can they tick off their to-do list? Can they keep their “profile” and financial information up to date? These are just a few examples of ways we see clients being able to engage with their plan on a regular basis.
Your client portal should also enable clients to use your guidance in real-life to make informed choices that are aligned with their values.
So, not only should clients be able to interact with their plan, but they should be able to use the information, on the fly to help them make decisions that keep them on track to living their best life.
Four: Digital experiences are not the silver bullet for retention
While demand for digital experiences increases, so too does the need for human-to-human interaction. More than half of clients prefer to communicate with wealth managers in person (52%) or over the phone (51%). The report suggests these preferences are in part due to clients needing to feel seen, known, and taken care of.
Additionally, 73 percent of wealth management clients want personalized recommendations, with more than half saying they would switch if they felt treated like a number (62%) or if services felt impersonal (53%).
When designing your digital experiences, be sure to align it with client preferences and your human-to-human experiences. They should complement each other, with the client seamlessly being able to switch between the two. If your physical and digital experiences don’t align, your overall experience can feel disjointed and negatively impact client perceptions.
It’s also important your digital experiences capture the deeply personal conversations with clients and keep these important elements front and center. This demonstrates to the client how this is their personal plan, with the information showing they’ve been seen, known and taken care of.
Want to learn more about Lumiant’s digital experience and how it can help you enhance your overall client experience?
Get in touch today.