A Capgemini study shows that while investors are embracing the benefits of online tools, wealth management firms seem to underestimate clients’ appetite for robo-advice.
Almost 50% of global HNWI would consider having a portion of their wealth managed by an automated advisory service, while only 20% of wealth managers thought their clients would do so.
Fig. 1 – HNWI and Wealth Assessment of HNWI Propensity to Use Automated Advisory Services, by Region, Q1 2015
This ‘perception gap’ is due to the fact that investors are 99% of their time normal consumers and the trends shaping the consumer market are also quickly permeating the wealth and investment management space.
Just like the boundaries between market segments – mass affluent, affluent and HNW – the boundaries between the different market offerings are also blurring more and more. Digitisation is enabling a much more multi-faceted set of offerings.
Digitalisation enables wealth management firms to ‘mass customise’ their business i.e. ‘to provide a service for an audience of one’. Offering a very tailored, personalised service in a factory-style operational-excellent fashion, that is what we ultimately mean with mass-customisation.
Essentially, it entails the creation of a ‘sticky’ digital environment for the client and the advisor to actively and pro-actively interact, aiming at reaching a personalised experience.
A hybrid reality – where investors can switch seamlessly and within the same process between face-to-face and online interaction depending on their immediate needs – is the future ‘sweet spot’.
According to the 2016 report by Objectway and Efma, Digital Engagement & Collaboration in Wealth and Investment Management, future interactions between financial institutions and their clients will mostly be hybrid (fig. 2).
Fig. 2 – What Type of Online Investment and Wealth Management Tools Are You Offering to Your Clients?
Investors are at the centre of the new digital workplace. A set of technologies and solutions enable them to interact with services, contents, advisors, investment experts, helpdesk employees or other fellow investors. Such connected clients need access to their advisors on their own terms, at a time and through channels with which they are most comfortable, using safe online investment tools. Many firms are thinking about how to position themselves in terms of online investment management services, but not many are yet providing tools and services for this purpose.
The chart underlines the belief that in the next two years, an evolution from online investment tools to online investment servicing will take place, with a strong surge in robo and hybrid advisory as online investment solutions.
This shift towards online investment won’t displace completely the traditional ways: it is not an ‘either/or’ reality, but rather an ‘and/and’ reality.
Although wealth management firms will increasingly include online tools as part of their offering, the traditional face-to-face interaction will still exist and will be complemented by online solutions in different flavours.
Furthermore, this digital transformation path should also be undertaken through incremental steps and improvements, thus avoiding taking too high operational and business risks.
While digitisation tends to be applied firstly to the front office area, there are also many benefits from applying it to both the middle office and back office.
Traditional financial institutions have tended to organise their areas into siloes, letting engines and legacy systems dictate the processes and means of interaction with end clients.
Here is where problems occur, since interaction with investors is driven by completely different factors than what drives firm’s back-end systems. The ultimate solution is to unify the customer experience across all access points, unbundling it from the mid/back-office processes. One is about collaboration, engagement and fulfilment, the other about regulatory compliance and operational excellence.
If established wealth and investment institutions are not adapting to these digitisation trends that is involving the whole industry, they will be missing an opportunity to widen their market and client reach.
As a result of digitisation, in fact, self-servicing models are increasingly entering the wealth management space, allowing firms to actively engage investors while also pushing a certain administrative burden from within the organisation onto the shoulders of the end client. Higher self-service adoption levels are expected while digitisation further develops in this market.