3 digital trends that will shape financial planning in 2021

It’s a new year, but the global public health crisis that forced dramatic change in the way that wealth management firms interact with their clients remains. In 2020, financial services firms made rapid investments of time, effort and capital into shifting their internal and external engagement to digital platforms.

That, in turn, has set in motion three important trends for 2021.

Smart processing
With the growth of digital engagement among financial advisors and their clients, wealth management firms are going to invest more in smart processing solutions to improve the customer experience and accelerate the onboarding of new clients. Being able to speed up and automate the process of opening new accounts and inputting information on behalf of clients and advisors is crucial to retaining business.

One firm to look to in this regard is digital behemoth Amazon. While it isn’t a financial firm, in many ways it has set the standard for what wealth management companies need to strive for when it comes to customer service. For example, Amazon’s famed one-click purchasing feature starts in motion a chain of events beginning at a warehouse and ending with the purchase being delivered to the customer’s door within a day or two, without requiring anything more from the purchaser.

In 2021, wealth management firms will be trying to provide the most services to clients in ways that require the smallest amount of effort on their end.

Client expectations
In the year (and counting) since the onset of COVID-19, clients’ habits had to change, no matter how unready or unhappy they were about it. That has meant learning to get comfortable communicating in different ways, be it via Zoom, email or social media.

In 2021, firms will focus on making their digital presence a more central part of how they communicate with clients. The goal will be to home in on the technologies that bring advisors and clients together, closing the gap between physical and online relationships.

For their part, clients have simply gotten used to more digital interaction and have reshaped their expectations, habits and behavior accordingly. As a result, while they have become more attentive about protecting their personal data from those who would gather it through deceit, such as phishers, they are also learning that sharing it judiciously with companies with whom they have relationships and trust can be beneficial. When there is a clear tradeoff in the form of faster, more comprehensive service in exchange for sharing their personal details, clients are more willing to make that trade.

Wealth management companies have seen this, and it is affecting how they relate to their customers. Broadridge has conducted surveys of investors and advisors that show younger members of these groups are more willing to engage digitally and are more energetic about doing so. Advisors who are part of the millennial generation communicate about ideas such as money-saving tips or investment…


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