Blog / Wealth Management

With the pressure to be ‘digital’, it can be tempting to reach for the next shiny new thing. But is your approach strategic, or just tactical? We share the signs to look out for and a few rules of thumb to get it right.

Are you always feeling distracted? The combined pressures of unrelenting regulatory change, the growth of new and disruptive market challengers and increasing client expectations means distraction risk is very real for wealth managers and financial advisers.

You may feel that if you don’t tick the ‘digital box’, then someone else will. It can be tempting to reach for the next shiny new thing, not quite out of desperation but certainly with a view that something is better than nothing. Are you a digital magpie? Here’s three signs to look out for.

1. Your tech controls you

Don’t get us wrong, there are massive benefits to be had from adopting digital solutions but to get the most out of digital, you need to control it, don’t allow it to control you. This means putting your clients at the centre of what you do and then working out, as a business, what you want your service proposition to be, what data and technology solutions you need to implement it, and ensuring you join them together in a client-focused way.

Look at it this way; say you’re reading this article at a time of your choosing, your phone is on silent, you’re travelling by train (and you have a seat), you’re going to arrive at your next meeting in good time – you feel calm and in control, the coffee is good!

Sounds great doesn’t it? However the reality is likely to be somewhat different. You’ve probably managed to grab five minutes in between meetings, your emails are piling up, you’re getting multiple alerts and reminders on your phone, and, ooh, what’s that your friends are planning for the weekend? Technology has transformed our lives, enabling us to be far more connected, productive and efficient but we should be the ones in control of when and how we use it.

Technology has transformed our lives making us connected, productive and efficient - but we should be the ones in control of when and how we use it.

2. You’ve got FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)

The pressure to keep up with the latest tools can lead to a fear of missing out. This applies equally in business and our personal lives. But in financial services in particular, where the volume of data can be overwhelming, the risk of becoming distracted is even greater. There’s a danger in attempting to adopt new systems as they come along and tick every digital box that can be ticked. It can be easy to lose sight of why we do things. Does a certain tool or digital process really help a business put effective strategies in place and achieve its aims and those of its clients?

Firms should think strategically; it’s not about plugging gaps and simply automating manual processes – doing these things without a cohesive, well thought-out strategy, with client outcomes at the centre means running the risk of not achieving your desired results and having to repeat the whole process in a couple of years.

3. You’re always adding new tools and systems

With regulation placing a greater emphasis on communication and engagement with clients, the temptation is to provide new access points, such as online meetings and secure client portals. These may work, but unless the rationale is clear and it fits into a wider strategy, designed for your customers and your business, there can be a limited benefit to simply adding new tools and systems.

Even tools and systems that work brilliantly on a standalone basis can be less effective as part of a fragmented digital proposition. Take video-conferencing for example, used increasingly by advisers and wealth managers to trim the cost of advice, create additional flexibility and give customers an extra access point. The benefits are clear, both for the company and the client. But busy professionals do not want to be using disparate tools with multiple, stand-alone applications. There’s little point in video-conferencing a client unless it can be delivered on a platform that suits them, or in a way that allows them to see all the necessary information at the same time.

Good digital engagement tools, like video conferencing, when integrated into a firm’s financial planning software, have the potential to deliver an exceptional proposition for advisers and their clients. Don’t forget, digital solutions must also meet increasingly stringent regulatory requirements around tracking, auditing and recording. Those impacted by GDPR, must also look for in-built functionality to help meet the requirements around portability, consent and erasure of client data

Good digital engagement tools, like video conferencing, when integrated into planning software, has the potential to deliver exceptional benefits.

A cohesive digital ecosystem 

The transformative potential of digital is not realised by simply moving paper-based processes online (which should be an absolute minimum). The real change that technology can drive comes from using data and connectivity to radically improve, or better yet introduce, new standards and benchmarks in service that a wealth management and financial advisory firm can promote to its customers as a competitive differentiator, while also enabling the business to operate efficiently.

 Get this right and you’ll be flying towards digital transformation. Get it wrong and you’ll soon discover you have a collection of nice shiny pieces that look pretty but don’t deliver the benefits you seek. Or you’re simply creating your next legacy system.

4 rules for a successful digital strategy

1. Control your tech, don’t allow it control you
2. Don’t just reach for the next shiny new thing
3. Don’t lose sight of why you are doing something
4. Aim for digital cohesion

This article first appeared in Citywire, UK.



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