Close Close

Practice Management > Marketing and Communications > Client Retention

Wealth Managers: Let Personalization be Your Guide

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.

What You Need to Know

  • The pandemic has only accelerated global digitization and the need for personalization.
  • Virtual communications represent a fundamental change that no wealth manager can ignore.
  • About a quarter of consumers surveyed by Broadridge say they've dropped firms due to lack of personalized service.

In today’s fast-changing marketplace, personalization should be the compass that keeps wealth managers on the right path as they create new strategies to satisfy clients and grow their businesses.

The combination of rapidly evolving client expectations and even faster technology innovation is forcing wealth managers to make critical decisions about how to run their business. As they decide where to invest limited resources and time, managers should use personalization as their guiding principle.

Every day we are closer to an all-digital client experience. (Have you tried the Apple/Goldman credit card?) The modern dinosaur is paper, snail mail and reading glasses. Yes, there are still millions of recipients of paper statements, but wealth managers that implement the best and most interactive digital experiences will win.

Clients have demonstrated that they will vote with their digital experience — their mobile device is their life! To that end, advisors will be communicating with clients and prospects almost exclusively through the same channels consumers use to interact with the likes of Netflix, Amazon and Uber.

Leverage Tech to Make It Personal

The pandemic has only accelerated global digitization and the need for personalization. The shift from mostly in-person interactions to mostly virtual communications represent a fundamental change that no wealth manager can ignore. The move to primarily digital relationships will require new technology tools, and most importantly a real consciousness around “humanizing” digital experiences.

Investing in technology is just the start. To generate meaningful returns on those investments, wealth managers will have to create digital sales and service strategies that harness the power of the technology to meet the expectations of prospects and clients. A critical theme is “My advisor GETS ME.” That means they meet me where I want, with what I want and how I want.

That’s a lot to take on while also running an existing business. But as wealth managers restructure their businesses for a new generation of investors and technologies, by striving for personalization at every step of the journey, being focused on clients will help them stay on track.

When competing for the business of individuals accustomed to the seamless service and frictionless execution they receive on consumer e-commerce sites, personalization will be a basic prerequisite. About a quarter of consumers surveyed by Broadridge say they have stopped doing business with a company due to its lack of personalization in service.

Wealth managers who stick with legacy service models are risking the same fate. This is a recipe for failure, even for FAs staring at their own retirement, and certainly for the way new-age FAs should be building their book of business.

Wealth managers have always segmented their client base to at least some extent. Most firms divide prospects and clients into basic categories such as retiree, up-and-comer, college saver, etc. Those categories fall far short of what’s needed today. To meet the level of personalization required to deliver acceptable levels of service in the digital age, wealth managers will need a nearly infinite number of personas, and they will have to adjust their service models to meet the needs and preferences of each one.

That sounds like an impossible task, but it’s not. Technologies widely available today allow wealth managers to deliver hyper-personalized service, covering every client with a unique, customized service model.

Data, Data, Data

This type of hyper-personalization starts with data about clients and client behavior. So when wealth managers are considering where to invest technology budgets, data is always a good place to start. Investments should focus on three things: (1) Data Quality (bad data produces bad results; (2) Data Utilization (data doesn’t generate value without digital tools that apply them where and when needed); and (3) Data Presentation (the right digital visualization package can make even a standard performance report a personalized engagement tool).

Wealth managers should use the goal of personalization to evaluate other investments and strategies as well. Today’s wealth management clients run the gamut from millennial digital-natives with a DIY take on investing to baby boomers who still value the high-touch approach.

The only way to satisfy this diverse client base is through a multi-channel model that services each client in exactly the way her or she wants to be serviced, through exactly the channels he or she prefers. Achieving that goal will require tools that identify client preferences, a platform that allows the wealth manager to communicate through desired channels with at least some level of automation, and content tailored to the needs and interests of the specific client.

In turn, the integration of those new tools will require upgrades to middle and back office infrastructure. Wealth managers working to personalize their service models must break down siloed legacy systems that support only fragmented views of their client base. That transformation will require investments not just in technology but in the internal technology talent needed to implement and maintain it.

Wealth managers who feel overwhelmed by the complexity of today’s rapidly evolving marketplace should default to personalization as their organizing principle. You don’t have to change everything at once. Start by asking yourself this question: Across the front, middle and back offices, which initiatives will go the furthest in personalizing your service model?

At a time of generational change in client expectations and technology capabilities, that’s simply another way of asking which investments will pay off most in traditional metrics like client retention, client acquisition and business growth.

Chris Perry has been president of Broadridge Financial Solutions, where he coordinates the firm’s overall growth strategy and oversees Broadridge International, since 2020. He joined Broadridge in 2014 as corporate senior vice president, global sales, marketing and client solutions and before that spent more than than 25 years in banking, brokerage and financial information services, including 14 years as global managing director of risk for the financial & risk division of Thomson Reuters. He serves on the board of the Financial Services Institute.


© 2023 ALM Global, LLC, All Rights Reserved. Request academic re-use from All other uses, submit a request to [email protected]. For more information visit Asset & Logo Licensing.