Wealthtech Insider (6/9/21)

Wealthtech’s role in laser-focused, high net worth service

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Technology’s role is supplemental to that of the advisor. It can’t replace the expertise and personal nature of the relationship, but it can add much-needed efficiencies that keep an advisor on-task and better able to focus their time on a client’s needs. Nowhere is that more necessary than the race to attract and retain the attention of high net worth clients.

HNW investors are a small proportion of the population; only about 5.9 million individuals in America, according to Statista research, can be classified as high net worth. And because they have more nuanced needs, they can be harder to connect with than the mass affluent investors that advisory firms increasingly use digital marketing tools to reach.

It’s not a question of skill—today’s advisor has more than enough knowledge and tools to serve investors in the upper echelon of the economy. The problem is largely about breaking through the noise to connect the right message with the right audience.

Understanding what HNWs want

The key question for advisors looking to turn high net worth prospects into clients is simple:

“What do they want?” A 2018 survey found that investors with $3 million or more want their financial advisors to communicate with them about five topics:

  • Estate planning (48%)
  • The implications of establishing a trust (35%)
  • Strategic philanthropy (16%)
  • Engaging family members about the use of family wealth (20%)
  • Teaching children or heirs about financial skills (21%)

These topics are not the “nuts and bolts” discussions that advisors most commonly have with mass affluent families. For example, there’s no mention of creating a daily budget or setting a goal for funding a child’s education.

High net worth investors deal with considerations for generations to come. These types of services require an intimate understanding of each family’s total wealth picture, their family dynamics, and consistent, transparent communication. Good client service for a mass affluent client may look like an annual review meeting and multiple email connections or phone calls through the rest of the year. Serving high net worth and ultra high net worth clients looks much different.

Setting the virtual standard

More than 80% of HNW investors use three or more digital services in their day-to-day lives, and more than 60% of investors under the age of 45 say their advisor’s digital offering is important to them. By contrast, for 75% of advisors, digital engagement boils down to one thing: sending emails.

Unfortunately, it’s safe to say that a majority of traditional advisory firms today don’t meet the digital expectations of the wealthy. Virtual client meetings have risen by 50% in 2020—but only 14% of advisors list it as their preferred meeting type, according to one Fidelity study. On top of that, only one-fifth of RIAs report using video conferencing with clients at all. For advisors looking to differentiate and stand out against other firms competing for the same HNW business, this low rate of digital adoption actually presents a tremendous opportunity.

As we’ve already seen, HNW individuals require higher levels of client service and more attention to detail than the average consumer. They also place a greater emphasis on the use of technology. According to a recent study, three critical touchpoints for HNW investors in the client journey are client acquisition, client advisory, and value added services. By leveraging technology, you can deliver the communication and personalization that high net worth investors value across the entire advisor-client relationship in an efficient, scalable way.

In this case, technology pulls double duty: a robust client portal empowers advisor-client interactions and offers HNW investors the access to information they crave, while powerful back-office solutions relieve advisors from the tedium of time-consuming tasks such as billing and reporting, leaving more time in their day to spend with their highest priority: their clients.


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