Needless to say, the pandemic has upended the advisor / client relationship like no other event in our lifetimes. How, where and why financial advisors engage with their clients looks very, very different than it did pre-COVID. From Zoom meetings to virtual events to AI-driven online dashboards, clients have become accustomed to a very different way of working with their advisors … and frankly expecting much more.
Those expectations are not going away. Rather, they are likely to accelerate. Clients increasingly want real-time, deeply personalized interactions with their advisors. Why shouldn’t they? Twice annual in-person meetings to sit down and review printouts of portfolios just won’t cut it anymore.
Not only are clients demanding a new and different working relationship, but so are advisors. They expect their firms to provide the tools and resources to engage with their clients real-time, with highly individualized recommendations for “next best actions” for engagement, for example. If their firms don’t (or won’t) provide the technology to make that sort of engagement possible, they are more than willing to go to a firm that does.
The bottom line is wealth management firms that increase advisor satisfaction through the right tools and resources will best be able to retain their advisors … and attract new talent in a tight labor market.
So with advisors and clients alike wanting more, how do you satisfy those expectations? How do you stay ahead of the curve and create the experience that makes clients and advisors “sticky”? Below are 7 recommendations to deepen the advisor / client relationship in 2022:
- Empower remote collaboration
Like it or not (and most people seem to like it), remote working is not going away. To one degree or another, hybrid work environments are here to stay. Advisor teams need (and expect) robust, yet intuitive, ways to collaborate digitally to better service clients. They need capabilities such as coverage teams, automatic task assignment, client and deal chatrooms, Outlook synchronization, and more.
- Invest in industry-specific CRM
Advisor satisfaction starts with a CRM platform that is specifically designed for wealth management. Sure, there are the behemoth CRM platforms that are industry “agnostic,” but how well do they cater to the unique needs of financial advisors? Wealth management is an extremely nuanced industry that demands a CRM solution specifically designed for it.
- Explore Integrated Advisor Desktops
A CRM platform alone is not enough. What advisors need is an Integrated Advisor Desktop (IAD), which provides a single-entry point that contains all the information an advisor needs regarding each client household. An IAD integrates with other systems, such as Portfolio Management, Financial Planning and Performance Reporting, allowing advisors to complete processes without logging into multiple applications and switching contexts. According to Gartner, 68 percent of wealth management firms will increase spending on IADs over the next two years. Will yours be one of them?
- Embrace client lifecycle management
To stay competitive and react to long-term client needs, many wealth management firms are investing in client lifecycle management (CLM) tools that support client-centric processes, including account onboarding, KYC reviews, AML, and account maintenance. According to Gartner, 77 percent of firms will increase spending on CLM over the next two years. With a CLM solution in place, firms can: increase advisor productivity by automating processes, allowing advisors to spend more time interacting with clients; enhance the client experience, which of course leads to greater customer loyalty; and help to ensure regulatory compliance.
- Create meaningful client engagements
Communication is key to building a close relationship between advisors and clients. No surprise there. The trick is ensuring that client engagement is personalized, relevant and ultimately useful for the client. Easier said than done and exhausting for advisors if they don’t have the tools to manage it all.
Content marketing is key to an effective client engagement strategy. In other words, it’s all about providing highly personalized news, information and advice, which can create a deep rapport with a client. That requires tools like secure messaging, document and process collaboration, approval workflows, video meetings, screen sharing and digital signatures, and more. It should also include impactful content, such as news and research that matches the client's interests. Once again, the solution is an Integrated Advisor Desktop featuring enhanced customer engagement capabilities.
- Equip advisors with AI-derived next best actions
Few wealth management firms have created a truly intuitive, effective “next best action” system for their advisors. Knowing what clients want and need before they do is tricky of course. And to accomplish that feat has historically either required a huge investment in both data and data science, or the use of a generic, one-size-fits-all software system. Neither is ideal of course. Fortunately, the rise of vertical-specific next best action providers, including NexJ’s Nudge AI Suite, is changing this reality for advisors and their firms.
- Bolster your cybersecurity and compliance
Cyberattacks are increasing in complexity and frequency. Regulations are continually changing. Together, these twin headwinds are creating challenges for wealth management firms. What they need are flexible tools to react to this constantly changing environment, like runtime configurable forms for onboarding and KYC, and microservice enabled architecture to weave new integrations together. Going forward, many wealth management firms will also be looking at private clouds as opposed to public clouds for the right balance of flexible infrastructure and security.