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How wealth management firms can reshape client experiences

The lessons learned from Gen Z about client centricity in a digital world

In brief:

  • Gen Z, the next big growth segment in wealth management, is digitally savvy and expects firms to deliver experiences that rival what they get elsewhere in their digital journeys. 
  • Wealth management firms often struggle to deliver the autonomy, hyper-personalization, and seamless availability of information today’s clients expect.  
  • Targeting client-centric drivers, such as personalization or diverse product offerings, on the appropriate stages in the client lifecycle can help attract and grow relationships with Gen Z and other client segments.

The digital revolution is rapidly changing what clients expect from wealth management firms, forcing growth-minded institutions to embrace a new, more client-centric playbook to compete. This is especially the case when pursuing Gen Z clients who have grown up in a connected environment and expect the same personalized, seamless and technology-driven experiences they get elsewhere in their digital lives.

As digital natives, young adults entering their prime investment years expect digital solutions, instant gratification and authentic engagements. Many like managing their own financial affairs and want wealth management firms to empower them with self-service capabilities, diverse investment options—and personalized advice when needed. These are the terms of the competition in a digital world.

Traditional wealth management firms are familiar with prioritizing client needs, but digitalization is changing the rules of the game quickly. The key drivers of an effective client-centric strategy today include personalization, availability, trust and credibility, diverse offerings and autonomy.  Doing those things right requires enabling digital technologies and data capabilities, and a strategy and culture that put the client’s interests first.

Adding to the complexity, the importance of individual drivers can vary depending on the stage of the client lifecycle. For example, a diverse menu of products can help win clients in the acquisition stage but doesn’t matter much when they are onboarding. Investing in drivers at the place in the client journey where they can best influence the overall experience is critical to winning clients and earning their loyalty.  Below, we explore how the intersection of those drivers and lifecycle stages plays out through the eyes of a hypothetical Gen Z client.

Meet Alex

Alex is a 24-year-old college graduate who, after starting work as a junior associate for a marketing firm, has begun thinking about retirement savings. An investing novice, she starts her journey by reading blogs and other content to determine an investment approach that reflects her values around social issues and better understand the qualities she wants from a wealth management firm.

Alex narrows her list to two firms—both trusted household names with strong ESG offerings. On the surface, Firm A and Firm B appear to offer similar value propositions. In fact, there are some stark differences in the experiences delivered along the client lifecycle, many of which are not apparent from the outside but can significantly affect Alex’s overall satisfaction. Those differences are illustrated in the below graphic.

Comparing Alex’s two journeys

Firm A represents many wealth management firms today. It understands conceptually the importance of client centricity, but the approach is not well-developed or supported, leading to a subpar client experience. Alex must visit a physical branch to resolve an onboarding problem, while in the servicing stage she can’t make investments with her mobile device.

The firm’s lack of digital and data capabilities, and its reliance on legacy systems and manual processes, limit its ability to deliver the seamless, personalized experiences that Alex gets in her other digital journeys. Eventually, she decides to end the relationship.

Firm B is further along in its transformation to client centricity. Importantly, it has enhanced drivers at stages in the lifecycle where they can have the greatest impact—something that is reflected in the quality of the experience. The firm’s technology empowers Alex to complete the onboarding process digitally with how-to tutorials, self-service capabilities and investor education programs. That sense of autonomy fuels a more positive client experience.

The goodwill from that experience is coupled with data driven insights to help create personalized cross-selling opportunities. When Alex needs help, a phone call is quickly arranged to guide her journey. The attention to individual needs at critical parts of the journey inspires Alex to explore a deeper relationship.

Lessons learned

What can we learn from Alex’s two journeys? First, factors such as advisor availability, easy digital access to information, autonomy, and personalized interactions are the new terms of the competition and must be executed effectively to build client loyalty. The personal touch that many wealth management firms pride themselves on is still important, but digitalization has created new client expectations—and new ways of satisfying them.

Second, leveraging those drivers when they matter most in the client lifecycle can influence client decisions about whether to invest more with a firm or look elsewhere. Alex is impressed by the relative ease and autonomy of Firm B’s onboarding process and the advisor’s willingness to answer her questions. Blending traditional personal attention with empowering digital technologies earns the firm more of Alex’s business.

Bridging the client experience gap

Most wealth management firms understand conceptually what needs to be done to pursue a client-centric strategy. Even so, as Firm A’s shortcomings suggest, they often struggle to effectively execute the transformation. Among the chief challenges: Which drivers should be deployed at what stage of the client lifecycle and how?

To address those questions, Capgemini has created a research-driven enablement framework that can help firms fill the most important driver gaps for each stage of the client journey. It is visually illustrated below.

An enablement framework, such as this one employed by Capgemini, can help firms understand the relative importance of client-centricity drivers across the client lifecycle.

Firms today cater to such a wide variety of clients that there will always be differences between the experiences they aspire to deliver and what their clients experience. That’s both natural and inevitable. The key is to use timing and context to prioritize parts of the journey that can build the strong connections and loyalty that firms hope to achieve with a client-centric strategy.

Interested in learning more? Our latest report delves into the factors that drive and enable the client-centricity throughout the entire customer journey in wealth management. Download the report here.

Expert perspectives

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