The upward drift of client expectations due to digital
platforms is not a new trend, but results from two new global surveys show that
living up to clients’ digital standards has become more important than ever.
In a recent global survey of 800 high-net-worth investors,
FactSet Research found that a growing number of investors, regardless of their
self-identified level of comfort with technology, are becoming increasingly
comfortable with online activities like video calling, online banking, using
digital signatures, and keeping up to date on business and current affairs
And in its 2021 Global Wealth Research Report, EY found that
across the world, 51% of clients – including 78% of millennials – intend to
make event greater use of digital tools in the future.
With the increased adoption of technology, wealth managers
should be prepared to stay abreast with clients’ demands. As FactSet noted,
some have already stumbled with high-profile reports of platform glitches,
system outages, and duplicate trade errors.
Against the backdrop of growing use of digital tools, more
than one in three clients in EY’s survey indicated that their relationship with
their wealth managers has become less personal. The number was even higher
among Canadian clients (42%), and even one third of clients who said they
prefer advisor-led contact characterized their relationships as less personal.
FactSet’s findings suggest that HNW investors are broadly
satisfied with using digital tools, however. Four tenths (42%), including
client segments often taken to be behind the curve on digital adoption, said
they’ve never encountered pain points when managing their wealth online.
Looking at the results by age, 18% of those under 35 years
old, 35% of respondents between 35 and 54, and 52% of those 55 and over said
they experienced no pain points. The same was true for 39% of digital phobics,
61% of digital laggards, 48% of digital followers, and 22% of early adopters.
To encourage and nurture these online interactions, FactSet
said wealth managers should focus on using their communication tools with
clients. The opportunity is particularly ripe among early adopters and younger
investors, the firm noted; as likely digital natives, they are more open to
testing out tools offered by their managers either on their own or in meetings
“Our data shows Early Adopters are three times more likely
to give their wealth manager’s digital offering top marks than Digital Phobics
(34% vs. 10%, respectively),” FactSet said. “This points to heightened
polarization among the most discerning client segments, as many will have
sought out a best-in-class offering.”
Another probable driver of client satisfaction is better
engagement with analytical tools. With quality information, clients will be
more likely to grasp market events and their implications on portfolios, which
elevates trust and confidence. Female investors who engage with fewer tools
tend to report lower financial confidence than men, while investors who use
analytical tools offered by their wealth managers frequently report higher
confidence, including roughly half who say they feel very confident about their
Wealth firms may also have an edge with respect to client
data. According to EY, clients would be more willing to entrust their primary
wealth manager with their personal data than banks, insurers, retailers, tech
firms, media platform, and even their doctor – as long as they receive more
relevant services and experiences in return.
“In addition, 41% of clients would share investment data
from other financial providers, and nearly as many would disclose their
interactions with those providers,” EY said, emphasizing the opportunity for
wealth firms to develop fully integrated financial relationships through open
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