As wealth managers continue to reinvent themselves against a backdrop of accelerating digital transformation and the increased volatility ushered in by COVID-19, a new Refinitiv report looks at the opportunities and challenges facing the wealth management industry.
- The need to stay relevant and build loyalty by delivering insights and value should be top-of-mind for all wealth advisors.
- A new Refinitiv survey of over 400 advisory clients uncovers key insights around evolving expectations since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- It is clear from our survey that clients are looking for advice, but gaps in data coverage and a poor digital experience is leading clients to switch providers.
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Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic the wealth management industry, along with many others, has faced unprecedented challenges. However, with these challenges also came opportunity.
We saw a sudden and exponential growth in the use of online investment platforms at a time when investors were faced with increased market volatility and uncertainty. This gave wealth providers the chance to not only show the value of their advice, but also how quickly they could adapt digitally to meet new expectations.
Emerging trends in wealth management
Over a year since the start of the pandemic, wealth management firms are witnessing the emergence of two key trends.
The first is that despite the growing availability of information, across a multitude of digital channels, there is still a strong and growing need for quality investment advice. A recent Refinitiv report, The Digital Wealth Agenda: Advancing the Advisory Client Experience, shows that 43 percent of advisory clients believe they need investment advice now more than they did a year ago.
Wealth clients also strongly value the insights and capabilities of their advisor. In fact, nearly one-quarter (22 percent) of advisory clients said the recommendation of their advisor is their most important source of new investment ideas.
The second is that there is evidence of diminishing loyalty to financial providers, with 20 percent of investors saying they would consider switching wealth providers as a result of their digital platform experience.
With the lack of face-to-face interactions, the quality of the digital experience and how wealth clients interact with their investments and advisors online is more crucial than ever to success.
These trends highlight a perfect opportunity for wealth advisors to optimise their digital offerings, create better online client experiences that cater to clients’ dynamic needs, and leverage digital channels to engender long-term loyalty within advisor-client relationships.
The importance of the right data
Looking deeper into the reasons why many wealth clients are considering switching providers, we see that cost is an obvious factor. Almost half (47 percent) of wealth clients are tempted by cheaper prices per trade. Another key area of consideration, one that can be exploited with more ease, is data. A substantial 43 percent of wealth advisory clients consider better asset class coverage to be a viable factor that drives switching.
Investors expressed interest in alternative sources of data such as news analytics, which enables investors to pinpoint actionable insights from news sources. Tools such as tagging and metadata, for example, can help investors to spot relevant and timely content, measure sentiment or forecast default risk.
Environmental, social and governance (ESG) data is also a key area of focus for investors. ESG investing continues to grow in popularity, with nearly half (46 percent) of advisory clients saying that they are more interested in ESG investing now than they were six to 12 months ago.
Clients undoubtedly value advisor input in this critical area – among those already investing with a view to ESG considerations, 53 percent say their advisor’s recommendation is their most trusted source of ESG information.
Given this vote of confidence, advisors should ensure that they are able to streamline new ESG ideas alongside recommendations and research, giving clients transparent ESG insights they value.
Better asset class coverage and new alternative data supported by real-time updates are clear areas for improvement by firms looking to meet changing expectations.
Being able to access reliable, relevant and complete data remains a crucial in the investment equation. However, data needs to be contextualised and insights tailored to the client.
Watch – Refinitiv Perspectives LIVE: Digital Transformation Accelerating Results for Wealth Advisory
Building trust in the digital experience
Digital channels have a crucial role to play in facilitating efficient access to professional advice, but advisors need to make sure that they demonstrate the value of these channels to clients.
It is clear from our survey findings that client loyalty is a challenge which advisors need to address. Advisory clients certainly value the role and input of their investment advisors, but poor digital experiences can negatively affect the loyalty they feel towards firms.
This presents a real opportunity for firms to optimise their offerings and find new ways to use enhanced data, digital tools and client insights to nurture relationships and improve loyalty.