Improving the client experience for the next generation of investors
For years, the majority of financial advisors have identified Baby Boomers as their ideal client market. They’ve focused their efforts on attracting and retaining this generation for easy-to-understand reasons — those in their 50s and 60s have the highest net worth and need help preparing for retirement. In fact, Baby Boomers own 50.4% of the nation’s wealth, compared to just 6.6% owned by millennials.
But Baby Boomers are aging, and that means the Great Wealth Transfer is coming. In other words, the majority of private wealth (remember, 50.4% of the nation’s wealth) is going to be passed down to younger generations over the next few years. And soon, your target audience will change.
But how will the communication preferences of the next generation impact advisory firms? A younger audience, say Gen X and millennials, expect a personalized client experience in wealth management that’s driven by opportunities for digital connection. As a prime example, 43% of today’s investors use a mobile app to access their investments.
Advisors must incorporate the tools and platforms needed to deliver exceptional customer service while meeting the communication preferences of this new target market. If not, it’s likely they’ll be facing an uphill battle in meeting their long-term growth goals.
This blog will provide a look at how the more “traditional” client experience impacts opportunities for growth, and what forward-focused advisors can do to embrace technology and better serve clients.
Why the “traditional” customer experience isn’t working anymore
When the way you’ve been doing business has been working for decades, it can be hard to find a reason to change things up. But firms that get “stuck” in their ways are going to miss out on crucial growth opportunities as the new generation of wealth builders emerges. In fact, around 80% of millennials are preparing to work with new financial advisors, rather than sticking with the planners their parents used.
If you aren’t adjusting your customer experience to fit the needs of this growing audience, you’re likely going to lose out to someone else who will.
So what, exactly, is wrong with the traditional customer experience in advisory firms?
Here are three primary areas of concern:
Old school practices
Money is incredibly personal, and advisors recognize that they need to establish trust with new clients. Traditionally, they believed the best way to do this was to meet face-to-face, shake hands, and have new clients tour the office.
It’s true that building familiarity and trust is easier when meeting in person, but it can be a big mistake to not give new clients the option to work together virtually. Everyone, including retirees, has grown accustomed to working or gathering virtually. It’s incredibly convenient and not having the option could turn potential prospects away.
The good news is, you can still establish trust with new clients and build a solid rapport, even if you’re sitting 1,000 miles away. People are more primed than ever before to do business online or over the phone, and working virtually doesn’t have to impede your ability to close the deal.
Lack of personalization
When you receive an email or postcard that starts with, “Dear Valued Customer,” you don’t feel especially “valued” — do you? Your clients feel the same way when it comes to your communications with them. In every aspect of your practice, you need to continually assure your clients that you care about the person behind the portfolio.
Generic communications makes people feel like they’re just a number. While that may be fine for utility companies or internet providers, it doesn’t sit so well with clients looking to trust an advisor with their hard-earned money.
But how can advisors offer a more personalized experience without adding hours to their day? By embracing automation and repeatable processes. Financial technology has come incredibly far in the last few decades, meaning it’s getting much easier for advisors to refocus their time and energy on personalizing the client experience in wealth management. Advisors are able to leverage timesaving processes while leaving room and flexibility for human interaction or connection.
Hesitance to embrace technology
Long gone are the days of stuffed file cabinets and desks crowded with paperwork. Advisors who still rely on manual processes are making it much harder than necessary to reach their growth goals for several reasons.
First, manual processes create more opportunities for human error. Even a simple mistyped number or incorrect client name can create costly and time-consuming errors. An advisor only has so many hours in a day, and they’re much better spent on client-facing initiatives.
Manual processes can be hard to follow and, even worse, hard to standardize. Your practice will never be able to meet a high level of efficiency and organization if it’s relying solely on manual processes. And when a new team member comes on board, they’ll be faced with the challenge of learning a process that isn’t recorded or easily repeatable.
Growth demands efficiency and scalability, both of which can only occur when firms successfully integrate technology into their practices.
Creating a stand-out customer experience at your firm
Now that it’s clearer why the “traditional” approach to the client experience is on its way out, it’s time to turn your attention toward the present-day approach to elevating the client experience in wealth management.
Offer virtual meetings
People like to have options. Maybe your clients do prefer to meet in person over a cup of coffee, but that doesn’t mean you should neglect other lines of communication. Even as life has resumed following the onset of COVID-19, remote meetings continue to be an important form of communication for many people.
To continue attracting and appeasing new clients, consider including them as a normal part of your practice, not just an afterthought.
Make it simple for people to schedule digital appointments with your team, practice your virtual etiquette and offer the same level of professionalism you would when meeting with a new or existing client in the office.
Improve your online presence
Social media platforms, like Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, are effective places to both attract prospective clients and build your reputation as a thought leader. To use it effectively, you’ll need to build a plan, engage with your audience regularly, and create content that offers value.
If your website hasn’t gotten any attention in a while, consider this the perfect time to show it some TLC. Your website has the potential to both draw in qualified leads and serve as a resource center for your current clients.
Curious to know what makes a website more effective? Check out our list of the top websites of 2023.
Provide a mobile-first experience
Around 60% of web traffic comes from mobile devices. If your website isn’t optimized to be viewed on smartphones or tablets, you may be turning away potential clients.
Aside from viewing optimization, consider how people tend to consume content on their mobile devices. Dense paragraphs and hard-to-read copy doesn’t engage mobile viewers. Instead, consider making your copy bite-sized and easy to digest. Share the most important information first, and give the viewer a reason to reach out and learn more.
Prospects, especially those balancing a busy career with building a family, don’t have time to spend hours at their computer searching for an advisor. They need to know within a few seconds (maybe minutes) of finding you online how you can help and what the experience will be like.
Focus on personalization
Optimizing your online presence is critical, but knowing who your client is and how they prefer to work with an advisor is most important.
When you invest in the right kind of technology, you have the ability to make your clients consistently feel seen and heard. Survey them regularly to learn about how they prefer to communicate and what you can change to improve their financial advisor-client experience.
According to Refinitiv’s Wealth Management Report, 57% of surveyed respondents preferred phone calls, 49% liked in-person meetings, and 48% would choose to communicate via email. The survey included participants across all regions and demographics, meaning you shouldn’t make assumptions about the communication styles of certain generations.
Just because someone’s under 55 doesn’t necessarily mean they’re opposed to meeting in person. Instead, give them options and take their feedback into consideration.
How technology shapes the financial advisor-client experience
What can advisors do to successfully implement technology and improve the client experience in wealth management?
If you haven’t embraced the power of virtual meetings yet, that’s a great place to start. You can use free or low-cost tools like Google Meet or Zoom to conduct your next introductory call, client check-in, or internal team meeting. Get comfortable conducting business in front of the camera, and you’ll have the distinct advantage of expanding your target audience and appealing to younger wealth builders.
Next, find ways to add a personal touch to the financial advisor-client experience without taking more time out of your day. For example, Nitrogen’s Check-In emails empower advisors to automatically gauge client sentiment without having to hop on a call, write an email, or have them come into the office.
When you fully embrace the benefits of going digital, you’ll find that technology can (and should!) power your entire process. Lead-generating platforms, like Nitrogen, can bring qualified prospective clients straight to your inbox — without any added legwork on your end. Enter your first meeting more prepared than ever before by pinpointing your potential client’s exact risk tolerance, demonstrating both your expertise and value.
As new prospects transition to happy clients, your integrated platforms can help drive your retention rates and improve the financial advisor-client experience.
Develop and regularly analyze customized investor portfolios, run Stress Tests to challenge their “what ifs” and implement automated touchpoints. From onboarding to ongoing relationship management, tech solutions like Nitrogen can easily serve as your firm’s process powerhouse.
Grow your business with Nitrogen
Nitrogen recently helped a firm reach a 90% close rate by providing a simple risk questionnaire that every new client completes during their initial meeting.
Giving prospective clients an inside look at their current financial standings and potential areas of growth helps advisors increase their perceived value and land new, qualified clients.