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Wealth management for the modern investor

Digital technology is transforming the client-advisor relationship.


The dawn of online banking made personal banking quicker and easier, and opened consumers’ eyes to the possibility of automated service and 24/7 access in other aspects of their lives, including wealth management. Fast forward to the present day, where consumers are using digital technologies to communicate live without travelling, share and access information instantly, and research and compare products from the comfort of their homes.

In this report, Accenture explores how digital technology has shaped client expectations, what that means for the client-advisor relationship and how traditional wealth management firms can thrive in this brave new digital world.

Brave new digital world

A recent Accenture survey of North American financial advisors revealed that the digital experience is an increasingly important consideration in the wealth management industry. Approximately 68 percent of advisors surveyed already use some form of social media with their clients, and nearly 80 percent believe that digital is an essential part of the client-advisor relationship.

Demographic shifts and an online service culture have made today's wealth management clients more tech-savvy and well-informed than ever before. At the same time that wealth is slowly moving from baby boomers to millennials, older generations are beginning to embrace social, mobile and digital technologies.

The result is a group of financially literate investors who expect instant access, personalized service and undivided attention.

Kendra Thompson

Kendra Thompson

Lead, Wealth Management Services, 
North America
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Emergence of a digital foundation

As the financial services sector continues to recover from the financial crisis, some firms are turning to wealth management as a way to replace lost revenue from other areas of their businesses. Universal banks are choosing to de-emphasize investment banking operations and invest in wealth management segments. Meanwhile, regional banks and fund managers are leveraging digital technologies to develop competitive wealth management offerings and become “one-stop shops” for existing clients.

Although the barriers to entry for wealth management have been lowered, competition from non-financial firms has been limited. What has emerged, however, is a growing number of financial technology start-ups with robo-advice services. The rise of robo-advisors, and more importantly, a robo-advice business model that emphasizes low-cost technology over traditional human advice, signals the emergence of a new digital foundation—and a new kind of digital client—in wealth management.

A new client-advisor model

A new wealth management model is beginning to take shape—one that is digital at scale and offers robo-advice with a human touch. For firms, that involves a mix of digital and traditional channels with low-cost products, a range of service and fee levels, and flexible “pay-as-you-go” access to advisors.

Clients are willing to pay for good advice, but they expect value and they want to know what they are paying for. Firms can build strong relationships by establishing a strong onboarding process, collaborating with clients on goals-based investing, and leveraging innovations such as robotic process automation to improve efficiency and service.