Wealth Management 2021: Five Themes to Guide Your Business
- Individualized Advice – The Covid event increased demand for financial advice covering everything from asset management and growing wealth to wealth transfer. The long-awaited move into a post-Covid era, in addition to a new administration in Washington, D.C., will be accompanied with gradients of uncertainty in markets, the economy, fiscal and tax policy. From Zoomers to Boomers and beyond, wealth clients will have higher expectations for proactive advice, specific to their individual financial lives, risk appetites and re-evaluated goals than in prior years. Products and technology will matter, but only to the extent they support the advice.
- Meaningful Next Generation Engagement – The greatest wealth transition in history is in progress. With heightened awareness to the need for planning, clients seek help with the delicate, difficult conversations around wealth transfer in their families. Wealth professionals are subject matter experts in facilitating these conversations, and 2021 represents an opportunity to engage in dialog across the client family tree to build new relationships.
- Shifting from Policy-based to Client-based Processes – Loosely borrowing from Hamlet, wealth firms are often hoisted on their own petard; they let regulatory policy define process instead of intentionally designing processes that meet client expectations and fulfill compliance requirements. The outcome: advisors and operations heroes intervene to avoid alienating valuable clients experiencing the consequence of bad processes. Client expectations for seamless execution are benchmarked against Amazon and the like. More complex, difficult user experiences will fall short of expectations in 2021, opening wealth clients to move to providers offering streamlined alternatives.
- Taking Virtual Client Engagement to the Next Level – 2020 forced firms to adopt virtual client engagement out of necessity. Most clients adapted quickly, and many prefer the flexibility and convenience of digital visits with their advisor. With digital virtual capability, competition is truly global; any advisor can serve a client anywhere. How does strategy change when a firm can effectively serve a wealth client out-of-market? Forward thinking firms will raise the bar with creative strategies capitalizing on opportunities the virtual environment presents while mitigating new risks.
- Driving Efficiencies to Invest in Effectiveness – Some wealth management firms tend to over-serve smaller relationships and high-frequency, lower-value activities. This is the opposite of where focus provides the greatest benefits to clients and, as a result, the firm. Effective segmentation is a step in the right direction, aligning relationships with the most economically appropriate delivery approach. The next step is excelling in serving the most meaningful activities – significant financial life events (top right quadrant in the exhibit below). This focus positions a firm to differentiate. Firms will not standout through lower value, high frequency transactions in 2021; those are merely ante to be in the wealth management game.