By: Karen Oakland, VP Financial Services Marketing at Smart Communications
For too long, bespoke financial client reporting has been seen as a necessary burden rather than a strategic communications avenue for wealth management, private banking and other institutions working with high net worth and corporate clients. That’s because these investor client reports have been unengaging, long and static– unforgivable transgressions in the modern, digital era of visually appealing and interactive customer experiences. Moreover, processes around creating compliant custom reports is often tedious, taking firms sometimes days or weeks to produce.
But that’s all changing, and changing fast. Firms are now investing in improving their financial client reporting communications as a crucial customer engagement strategy, taking advantage of the power of new technology to deliver highly personalized, customizable, digital-first experiences at scale, while reducing manual work and accelerating turnaround time.
We take a deep dive into the key trends, challenges, and opportunities facing wealth management and private banking leaders today in our new eBook, 5 Trends Shaping the Next Generation of Client Reporting. Below is a preview of a few key highlights we found in our research into this often-overlooked area of financial services customer communications.
- $68 trillion in wealth will change hands between various generations over the next 25 years, according to Accenture and other sources. Some call it the “generational shift in wealth,” others the “Great Wealth Transfer.” The GenX children of Baby Boomers – along with their children – are finding themselves responsible for estate planning and looking for different ways to manage their money, and this shift has only accelerated during the pandemic. Data shows that these younger generations of investors have higher expectations around personalization and digital self-service.Wealth management firms that have been dragging their feet on digital transformation may lose these clients to providers that offer a digital-first financial client reporting experience. Smart firms will implement better client-facing technology now to secure the loyalty of those who will receive that wealth well before they see a penny of it.
- 61% of very-high-net-worth investors and 80% of millennials are willing to pay more for experience-related features, according to the EY 2021 Global Wealth Research Report. In an era when many incumbent banks and wealth advisory firms face competitive pressure from digital disruptors and challenger banks, this stat is like a breath of fresh air. Though much has changed in the financial services industry, some truths have endured: if clients receive personalized services that are of value to them, they are more likely to stay loyal and even pay more for these services, rather than looking for a DIY approach with robo-advisors.The key is understanding both parts – which “experience-related features” are valuable, and to whom – to ensure the right product / market fit. Financial client reporting is a good example of a client experience that has the potential to either help clients see the value a firm provides, or leave them wondering, “what am I paying for, exactly?”
- 82% of wealth management businesses plan to increase spending on client-facing technologies in the next two years, and 75% plan to invest in client reporting, according to Gartner’s industry forecast. Improving digital experiences can feel like an arms race, with financial services companies pouring money into IT teams and fintechs. Which firm has the best app? Which firm has the best-looking reports? To stay competitive, wealth management and private banking firms of all sizes need to invest in technologies that improve the client experience. Because if they don’t, their competitors surely will.
- 70% of households with a net worth of $500,000 or more, headed by a person under 45, have an investing style that is either strongly or mostly self-directed. It’s not just who has the wealth that’s changing – it’s how they invest, too. As outlined in this report from the Wall Street Journal: “Wealthy young investors don’t see much use for the wealth management firms their parents rely on. They would rather pick their own stocks or plow their money into crypto.”That’s why Gartner says wealth firms are investing in technologies that move beyond static reports into interactive, digital experiences, allowing clients and advisors to slice and dice data to build personalized reports that meet their needs and interests.As with any other trend, this stat reveals both a challenge and an opportunity. The challenge is – if advisors don’t adapt and modernize key areas of their practice, like financial client reporting, the gap will continue to widen. However, if firms provide clients (and advisors) with digital tools that put them more in control of their own destiny (but within the walls of a firm), it may be possible to increase wallet share.
- 57% of wealth management firms would continue to use paper communications for ultra HNWI segments, Accenture reports. While this stat seems to contradict everything we’ve looked at so far, it’s actually not that surprising. And it underscores an important truth about how financial services is evolving: there is no one-size fits all approach. The key takeaway? It’s important to look at delivering consistent financial client reporting that supports every channel, instead of looking at digital and traditional batch print document output as two separate disconnected channels. It means letting the customer “choose their own adventure” in a personalized way. That’s why companies need to invest in a customer conversations management platform that is not only future-leaning, but also “backwards compatible” with paper and traditional PDFs.