Over the past year, the nature of financial advice changed in tandem with clients’ increased demand for wealth management services. There was also a gradual evolution from product-focused to holistic advice offering happening at the same time. Given these shifting dynamics, how can today’s wealth managers embrace change?
To better understand what the financial advice landscape looks like now, Accenture conducted research across the United States and Canada in mid-2021. In our Wealth Management Consumer Report, we interviewed a demographically diverse group of 1,000 wealth management clients to hear more about:
We found that investors increasingly want the best of all worlds: a diverse product offering compounded by environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing and socially responsible investing (SRI) preferences combined with a personalized experience in recommendations, selection and curation. Our survey found that most current advice offerings are falling short when keeping pace with the rate of these changes. Over half of the respondents in our survey felt the advice they receive is too generic. A similar number of investors (55%) felt they did a better job investing than their advisor by making decisions on their own. This leads to fundamental questions around the value of advice in light of fees—and should be a wake-up call to every advisor.
… focused on holistic advice
To better meet client needs, advisors need to offer the right products, targeted to the client and shared at the right point in time. A key characteristic in this new state of advice is that it’s inherently personal: uniquely aligned to a client's needs and built upon individual context. Factors like timing, trust, interest, concern and chemistry are secondary, yet play a critical role in the overall experience and relationship. Putting it all together could enable firms to deliver a diverse offering that attracts investors through choice and enables individual curation in recommendations and selection—available and delivered when needed.
of investors expect their advisor to offer banking and insurance products.
Using technology to create holistic, personalized advice at scale
Many clients now want to receive the same level of financial advice customization that once was exclusively reserved for institutional and high net-worth investors. To keep up with these expectations, firms need to give advisors a scalable way to understand and anticipate client needs and provide a white-glove experience—regardless of assets under management (AUM).
To meet client needs, firms should leverage analytical capabilities to uncover and predict “moments that matter.” These moments are critical life events and personal intentions, and they can make or break a client’s interaction with a brand. An advisor should play a role in these moments of need.
Across the client lifecycle, from client acquisition to growth and sustainment, digital technology allows advisors to deliver custom experiences and differentiated services by first understanding and predicting key triggers for engaging clients. For firms, this requires the flexible execution of a robust digital and personal engagement model. For the client, this provides an affirmation that their advisor knows, values and cares about them.
Firms may be leaving diamonds on the floor by not having a scalable way to identify and predict clients who have an appetite for advice. To help firms realize a more holistic advice offering, we explore some short- and medium-term solutions in our report:
Understand clients’ needs, wishes, wants and goals.
Incorporate goals-based plans and future-looking advice with tax considerations.
Present insurance and risk management offerings and future-proof plans to safeguard long-term holdings.
Integrate banking, insurance and wealth management offerings and align to the above.
Firms need to reimagine the client-advisor relationship by looking at the client holistically, across their balance sheet, augmented with information that they can learn from third party sources. At the same time, delivering advice at scale could be driven by new technology (such as analytics and AI and cloud computing). To fully deliver on this promise requires fundamental change.
As stewards of capital, wealth managers have a fiduciary duty to act in their clients’ best interest. The relationship with the client is a core defining feature in this action—and today, digital technology plays an equally important role. Together, they can bring the best of the advisor and wealth manager to the client, with an equal weighting on superior service, excellence in advice and individually curated guidance. With more changes on the horizon, this will be the constant that keeps business in perpetual motion.
“…the foundation for advice in this new framework is understanding clients and their situations, then tailoring engagement and recommendations based on their preferences…”