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What to consider in the race to hyper-personalization.

The term hyper-personalization is being used to re-define the investor expectation. The tendency is to focus on the online experience and ignore the interaction between the advisor and the client. This approach leads to a major gap in the definition which will vary by channel, especially in what is needed to change the advisor experience for human interactions or hybrid engagements. It can also impact a firm’s ability to deliver a hyper-personalized experience at scale. 

A poorly executed strategy will put existing clients at risk and strain the ability to grow in today’s market. Capgemini found that 74% of high net worth (HNW) clients say they would turn to tech giants for wealth management services based on their proven ability to offer a personalized client experience1. With the emergence of micro-investing firms such as Acorns, Robinhood, Stash and Wealthsimple, the threat is real and not from traditional sources.

You cannot solve the problem if you cannot define it

Firms constantly engage in strategic planning, but many times it does not deliver the results they were expecting — mainly because of a failure to fully diagnose the issue. Trying to deliver a hyper-personalized experience is no different. When asked to define it, the default response for wealth managers is, “providing the investor with a highly individualized client experience”, which probably can be used loosely to define most client interactions. We need to dig deeper. At the highest level, client satisfaction will be driven by how quickly and accurately an inquiry is addressed or information can be produced. Clients expect their advisors to use all available information to anticipate versus react to their needs, and they want to be treated as a “segment of one”. Where it gets fuzzy is with varying expectations by channel, client and type of interaction.

One common mistake is to focus only on the digital channel. A well-planned hyper-personalization strategy needs to extend beyond digital channels and deliver to your client-facing teams the tools needed to create hyper-personalized client interactions because most organizations employ a hybrid approach to client engagement. A recent Broadridge study showed 84% of consumers expect companies to make it easy for them to interact across all channels. This means that the interaction needs to deliver relevant content to the client regardless of where, when and how.

Investors are changing and we need to change with them

As an industry, clients are telling us we need to do more to meet their expectations. HNW investors are not satisfied with interactions – with the root of this dissatisfaction being the inability to individualize experiences to the client and situation. Looking at the top asks of investors, Broadridge found consumers were most interested in:

  • Comprehensive views of their accounts;
  • Money-saving tips tailored for them; and
  • Ideas for new investment vehicles that could work for them.

This sounds like a simple request; however, where the industry has struggled is doing this consistently across products, market segments and channels at scale. This is where it may help to look at successful fintech firms that are rapidly growing accounts and assets. They are poised to continue their disruption at the higher levels of wealth, making it obvious that wealth managers that fail to address these fundamental needs are at risk to lose clients to both primary competitors and new entrants into the market. It is also important to fully review the impact of holistic financial planning which leverages the client balance sheet and considers a client’s personal views on investing, and the technology supporting the advisors.

Focus the strategy to moving forward

Many times, when we are behind, we tend to move directly to action without considering if our strategy is misaligned with the goal. That approach will prove costly because of the possible client impact and may magnify the need for an omnichannel approach. A good place to begin is placing an emphasis on outcomes by mapping the client journey, and then asking: “Would I be happy interacting with myself if I was the customer?”. If the answer for all engagements is not a resounding YES, then there is work to do. You should start your transformation by asking these questions:

  • What does hyper-personalization mean to your firm?
  • What do you need to do to differentiate your experience from your competitors?
  • What is the best way to manage all client channels?

This will lead to a more structured approach to the development of a strategy which better aligns with your brand. Next you should understand which systems and solutions need to be reviewed for possible changes. Every strategy should end with one critical step: the integration of a test and learn approach to maintain a continuous feedback loop. 

Regardless of where you end your transformation, you need to look at that point as the first step in the next journey in improving client engagement.

  1. Top Trends in Wealth Management: 2021, Capgemini, November, 2020

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