Tablet with stock graphs

How to stay competitive and meet new client expectations is the wealth manager’s perennial challenge.

A new report released this week by Thomson Reuters in collaboration with Forbes Insights says that in order to be successful, wealth managers must develop strategies to engage with clients who increasingly are digital natives.

Also, they must decide which technologies will make them more effective and which do not merit the investment to master and deploy.

The report is based on a survey Forbes Insights conducted in the fourth quarter of 200 wealth managers, 30% of whom were based in North America, 30% in Asia/Pacific and 40% in Europe. All executives polled were directly involved in wealth management and worked for a broad range of firms, the majority with at least $10 billion in assets under management.

Sixty-eight percent of wealth managers surveyed said learning about and keeping up with new technology was their No. 1 challenge, and 69% said they were concerned about staying relevant to a younger generation of investors.

Four out of 10 respondents said advanced analytics and cognitive technologies would have the greatest influence on the wealth management industry over the next three years.

Only 27% of survey participants reported that they had and were satisfied with their mobile platform, even though they believed this was the digital capability that clients valued most.

The most technologically advanced advisors in the U.S. rely on several principles when deciding which technology to implement, according to one tech entrepreneur and marketing consultant.

Two-thirds of wealth managers in the survey said they spent most of their time on client acquisition and onboarding, followed closely by providing advice and assessing client objectives and risk tolerance. Many believed that technology could help them become more efficient with each of these endeavors.

Artificial intelligence represented an opportunity for 72% of respondents.

“There is no doubt that wealth management firms and their advisors are now at a turning point, and have a great opportunity to reinvent themselves in order to both deliver an exceptional digital experience for the digital natives as well as to define a new generation of high-touch services,” David Akellian, managing director and global head of wealth management at Thomson Reuters, said in a statement.

“The industry challenge, and the opportunity, is helping ensure that wealth firms and their advisors are better equipped with the AI, advanced analytics, insight and technology necessary to meet their clients’ rapidly evolving investment and service needs.”

Where is all this leading?

The report noted that the financial advisor’s role could change dramatically in the next few years. Not only will many clients expect better tools of engagement, but advisors will likely be serving more clients and for lower fees.

Advisors will want to “know” their clients with the speed and precision of machine learning. Given the trillions of dollars’ worth of managed assets at stake, advisors are keenly aware of what they need from their technology going forward:

  • Access to client information on one screen, prioritized for current events
  • Meaningful, personalized advice at their fingertips or for their clients directly
  • Automation to free them to spend more time with clients
  • Communication tools for the next generation
  • Augmented decision-making capabilities for them and their clients

One business development consultant recently laid out four things technology can do for advisors.