Coming into 2020, many wealth management firms had already embarked on digital transformation projects, while others have been slow to evolve. And while digitising the client experience, addressing data management and technological infrastructure, and streamlining operations through automation have been popular areas to focus on, the needs of relationship managers have been grossly overlooked.
For firms already lagging behind, deficiencies in internal systems and processes have become their Achilles heel, exposing them to risk at an unprecedented scale. According to a recent EY report, nearly 45% of wealth and asset management executives say they need to re-evaluate their decisions related to speed of automation and digital transformation, due to COVID-19 challenges.
Furthermore, due to the unpredictable pace of change, 72% of executives believe that there is a need for more frequent strategic and portfolio reviews, enabling areas of growth and under-performance to be identified at the earliest opportunity. During and after the pandemic, wealth managers are likely to evolve towards an “always on” strategy and portfolio review process. A fully-joined-up technology infrastructure is needed to accelerate these review processes, and provide relationship managers with the tools and insights needed to communicate often and effectively with clients, whether they are working in the office or remotely.
The sooner wealth management executives come to realise that the saviour amid all of this uncertainty is the technology-enabled relationship manager, the better for everyone.
Responsibility for nurturing strong, long-lasting and mutually profitable client relationships lies firmly in the hands of relationship managers. Despite the vital role relationship managers play in ensuring business continuity, many still lack the tools and insights needed to have a complete view of every client, know the next best action to take (as soon as it arises), communicate effectively with clients and colleagues as required (wherever they are), and work collaboratively across teams to get every job done, in an efficient and compliant way.
No-one knows when or how it will be possible or desirable to return to in-office working. Post-pandemic, relationship managers are likely to be more mobile and continue working remotely, at least some of the time. To support this new way of working wealth management firms must put in place relationship management workstations that can be accessed any time, from anywhere. These workstations must provide collaboration tools that support both interactions with clients, and collaborative teamwork. Internal systems and processes will need to be interconnected and auditable, in support of ‘right first time’ working practices and regulatory compliance.
Now, and in the future, client communication has become mission critical. Clients want to be updated, they want to discuss new products that offer the potential for AuM growth, and they want to act quickly to divest in poor performing holdings, to mitigate risk. They want to communicate.
Relationship managers own the quality and success of these communications. As the power is in their hands to preserve and grow your business, be sure to equip them well, and you will reap the rewards.
By Dominic Gamble, Head of Asia Pacific, Wealth Dynamix