Adding a personalized approach to wealth management | Job Binary

Over the past two and a half years, my business model has changed dramatically. Like the rest of the world, I’ve moved from connecting with existing or prospective colleagues and clients at conferences, meetings, and happy hours to scheduling video calls and finding ways to connect completely virtually.

As the founder of a marketing firm for wealth management groups, I recently started traveling again, and the thrill of being human again is palpable. But I’m not ready to give up everything I’ve learned since the beginning of 2020.

Before the Covid outbreak, I spoke about the need for more personalization in wealth management. Telling your clients that you have a “holistic” approach to investing and that you have “real solutions” to meet their needs will not set you apart from the crowd. It only forces you to engage.

Capgemini, a management consultancy, has noticed that investors want more personalization from advisers, whether through communication or investment options. In its latest Global Wealth Report, Capgemini reported that 51 percent of high net worth individuals were dissatisfied with their current wealth management firm’s personal offerings.

When we begin to factor in once-in-a-lifetime disasters, as has happened several times during the pandemic, the focus on personalization takes on new meaning.

In developing personalization, wealth managers should learn from luxury brands. High net worth investors are familiar with these companies and are comfortable with their “customer experience” approach to marketing. They sell to individuals with available in-store and online experience based on past interactions and purchases.

Take the Tiffany jewelry store. A person can walk into any Tiffany store and expect a certain quality of service as well as a uniform look. Each purchase is packaged in a blue box unique to Tiffany. Whether buying a simple ring or an extravagant necklace, every buyer feels like they’ve been taken care of. The salesperson asks about the individual’s needs and follows up with a handwritten thank you note that highlights the details heard in their sales pitch. Who wouldn’t want this service?

This kind of openness in communication can be more easily fostered by wealth managers in a post-Covid world than before. A survey by the Council of Certified Financial Planners, a US industry group, found that at the start of the pandemic, investors turned to their advisers for guidance on how to weather the storm. With the recession ahead of us, these constant conversations will continue into next year.

In the past, communication with investors was limited to phone calls and annual office meetings. Clients and advisors can now be easily reached via video calls, which means that short, regular contacts happen more often than before, turning interactions into dialogues.

This accessibility has also opened up a world of new possibilities. It is now common to visit each other’s homes and see family members and pets as well as living quarters. Financial advisors can better understand their clients as people when they see their home life. Graduation photos of children can prompt conversations about inheritance or college payments. A group of rescue animals may spark thoughts of philanthropy. A rarely seen series of paintings may require a new appraisal and insurance. A trailing spouse or partner usually provides a personal introduction to the person who takes second place in the family investment.

Researchers at Australia’s Griffith University have found that financial advisers have played an important role during the pandemic, providing second-tier services beyond the usual investment-strategy conversations. For example, when their clients are dealing with serious health problems or a death in the family, they contact insurance companies. These moments of trust building are critical to long-term relationships.

April Rudin

April Rudin

Investors want to have a relationship with their advisor, so it’s equally important that they see the advisor’s home or talk about personal items that come up. David Durlacher, chief executive of Julius Baer’s UK division, told the Financial Times in 2020 how a video call with a wealthy client about investment strategies turned into his contribution to a family discussion about making omelettes.

The advantages of a more accessible approach are clear. Because other family members are easily accessible through casual calls or video, counselors can build relationships with more family members than just the patriarch or matriarch. This can mean long-term relationships for counselors, as these other family members feel connected to them and are more willing to continue the relationship later rather than seeking out their own counselor.

Changes during Covid happened organically as we were forced to adapt and evolve. Since it’s easier to go back to business as usual, the challenge lies in embracing the lessons learned.

April Rudin is the founder of The Rudin Group, a New York-based global marketing firm for wealth management and wealth technology firms.

This is part of the article FT Wealthsection providing in-depth coverage of philanthropy, entrepreneurs, family offices, and alternative and impact investing

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