It is quite likely that 2021 represents the most eagerly anticipated turn of the calendar in modern history. As we continue to work through the impact of the pandemic on our industry and our work lives, the New Year brings renewed optimism and the opportunity to start planning.
So what lessons have we learned from last years’ experience? In a recent essay in WealthManagement.com, SS&C Advent Co-General Manager, Steve Leivent made clear what he believes is the number-one takeaway from 2020 for wealth managers: digital client communication is essential, and imperative. Building out a firm’s digital presence is not a new concept. Many forward-thinking firms have invested in client-facing online portals, mobile apps, and other digital tools to forge a connection with clients that goes beyond the occasional phone call or quarterly portfolio review. With in-person meetings, networking, and socializing out of the question for an indefinite period, advisors need to be especially resourceful to maintain a presence in their clients’ lives.
The technology research firm, Celent further bore this out in its Wealth Management Technology Forecast 2020-2023. In the most likely technology-spending scenario for the year ahead, Celent anticipates firms will “proceed with caution.” Non-essential projects will be put on hold, while “resources are shifted to support digital capabilities that focus on client engagement.” This would include “significant investment in digital onboarding capabilities.” The report concludes that remote collaboration and client communication tools are here to stay.
Just as wealth managers have become more reliant on these tools, so too have clients become more comfortable with digital communication in their everyday lives – another trend that sped up and spread to broader demographic groups in 2020. As we move forward, it is important to have a set of easy-to-use, visually appealing tools that enable clients to view and interact with their financial information. These tools should also give you the flexibility to distribute relevant content or messages to a targeted subset of clients and, in the process, remind them of the value you bring to the relationship.
As the Celent report points out, front office tools should also be viewed as “enabling” rather than “replacement” tools. Personal relationships are at the heart of the wealth management business and still matter. The best technology will not only help serve clients more efficiently, but also enable personalized messaging and content that demonstrates a true understanding of the client’s needs.
SS&C Advent’s Black Diamond® Wealth Platform has made digital communications and client engagement a priority, most notably:
- The Black Diamond Client Experience is an interactive client portal that allows clients to track their portfolios via the device of their choosing and enables the secure exchange of documents and messages with the firm;
- Relationship Timeline, a digital record of key milestones in the client relationship, serves to keep clients engaged in their financial plans and progress; and
- Client View, a centralized command center, provides advisors a holistic view across an entire client relationship so they can respond more quickly and proactively to their clients’ questions and needs
If 2020 was the year that brought the value of digital experiences to the forefront, 2021 is the year to capitalize on the momentum.