By Anirudha Taparia, Executive Director, IIFL Wealth & Asset Management
How technology, and new customer expectations is changing the wealth management industry
“The only constant in life is change” - Heraclitus.
If there is anything that the current environment has taught us, it is that change is inevitable and often, unexpected. At the same time, it has underscored the importance of being agile and future ready. For the wealth management industry, winds of change had already started blowing, taking the industry towards a more technology-enabled future. In the last few years, technology has driven many changes across various sectors. Digitally-powered solutions and digital interactions are changing the way companies work and provide services.
Besides the technological changes, wealth management firms are doing well to keep up with the changing needs and attitudes of investors. The attitudes of investors across different age groups and their expectations from wealth managers is currently undergoing a transformation. Add to that, the complexity of the economic environment and the need to stay tethered to the traditional values of trust and transparency.
Let’s dwell into some of the paradigm shifts taking place in the wealth management industry:
New generation of investors
A huge amount of global wealth is currently changing hands from the previous generation to the new generation. Shaped by dissimilar experiences and brought up in a different environment, the new generation of investors has markedly different expectations from their wealth managers when compared to the previous generations. They want to be respected and treated as unique individuals. They seek personalised recommendations based on their financial goals and liking. This new breed of investors doesn’t shy away from doing their research before investing in any investment option. They also discuss investment options with their friends and colleagues and are open to their suggestions. While in the past, advisors and wealth managers interacted with their clients through face-to-face meeting and telephonic conversations, the new generation of investors expects their money managers to be available across different channels at any point in time, in demand.
The industry has been witnessing a slow migration from product-based to solution-based offerings. Clients today demand holistic and end-to-end solutions that meet their various wealth related needs. These could range from fund raising for an entrepreneurial venture to creating a sufficient corpus for the child’s foreign education. Instead of providing products or solutions in silos which only meet the one-time needs of the client, wealth managers are undertaking the customer journey along with the clients. This requires assessing the client’s risk profile, understanding her multiple life goals, determining the return requirements, creating an asset allocation strategy that meets these requirements, and continuous monitoring to adjust for changes in the client’s circumstances or the external environment.
Digitally-powered solutions are slowly becoming the norm, rather than a competitive advantage. Covid-19 has accelerated the adoption across industries. As individuals increase their digital engagements, the wealth management industry, which was traditionally more of a human touch business has now turned phygital. Technology has the power to transform businesses, elevate interactions and user experience, and create customised solutions that generate high value and client satisfaction. Wealth management companies are now looking at artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) powered tools to collect and harness data. This helps wealth managers create personalised solutions for their clients. Digital tools are now being extensively used to enhance reporting, analysis, and client interactions. Technology, if harnessed well, will go a long way in further enhancing the human interactions.
Retirement & Legacy Planning
Wealth managers serve clients across the wealth spectrum and cater to their multiple needs. One of the biggest concerns that the wealthiest clients have is whether they will outlive their assets. This is now becoming increasingly complex due to longer life expectancies. the increasing cost of medical care, and concerns over the value of their assets. At the same time, many wealthy individuals wish to have a proper plan in place to pass on their wealth to the next generation. To effectively meet these requirements, wealth managers are engaging with clients early on, to balance their short and long-term financial goals.
The wealth management industry is witnessing several changes. These changes will inevitably make it easier for investors across different age groups to invest and fulfil their financial goals. Yet, some things remain the same—like staying agile, adapting to new imperatives and ensuring trust, transparency and client-centricity are not compromised.