Automation and paperless transactions are the future. Wealth management firms that want to stay ahead the competition need to consider the right investment for their technology budgets. Digitized onboarding programs provide a vastly superior experience for advisors and clients and save time and money for firms.

Client onboarding​ is a comprehensive term that encompasses account opening as well as prospecting and client questionnaires. ​Many software tools focus on new account opening since it is the most complex, time-consuming, and expensive part of onboarding.

Here’s how digital onboarding can benefit clients, advisors, and wealth management firms.

A Better Experience for Clients

New investors want simplicity. As younger, digitally native investors begin to inherit, earn, and grow wealth, they’re looking for solutions and advisors that can match their expectations of transparency, speed, and personalization. Firms that still use mostly manual and paper-filled processes, which can be frustrating and outdated, can lead to clients and/or prospects seeking advice elsewhere.

Digitizing the onboarding experience allows customers to use the technology they’re already familiar with: videoconferencing, digital document management, electronic signatures, biometric authentication, and more. A digital onboarding program also dramatically compresses the timeline for investors and advisors; manual processes that take weeks or months to complete are done in a day or two with the right systems in place.

Repeated requests for the same information becomes a thing of the past when a firm’s system can save and remember information about a client during subsequent interactions. Valuable information and changes aren’t lost in back and forth paperwork requests and email attachments when firms use cloud capabilities to store real-time updates to a client file.

As residual effects from the pandemic continue to disrupt in-person meetings and logistics, many clients prefer doing as much business as possible online. Building an onboarding experience that caters to those expectations leaves an excellent first impression that clients will carry throughout their relationship with their advisor.

More Time for Advisors

Advisors spend a lot of time completing tasks irrelevant to providing financial advice or services. A survey from Michael Kitces found that during a financial advisor’s average 43-hour workweek, they only spent 19% of that time with clients and 17% of that time doing business development. The rest of the time — the majority of it — is spent on non-client-facing work.

Onboarding a new client represents reams of paperwork and back-end processes that could be spent prospecting for new clients, researching or completing tasks for existing clients, and other tasks that further business growth. This leaves a big opportunity for technology and automated processes to free up valuable time.

Beyond just time, automation allows for better accuracy, quicker results, and greater transparency. Removing redundancies and creating systems that streamline communication and data transfer from client to advisors eliminates frustrations and misunderstandings that naturally occur when manual processes get in the way.

A Digital Advantage for Wealth Management Providers

The primary challenge for wealth management providers is investing in the right technology and integrating systems. Competition for investment dollars is fierce, and fintech solutions drive near-constant disruption, so firms often feel like they are perpetually catching up instead of getting ahead.

Digital onboarding experiences that integrate with existing systems allow firms to close the gap between initiating and completing the account opening process and fund client accounts faster. They eliminate manual data entry and redundant, outdated systems. And, they simplify the process for advisors and reduce the number of applications and systems they need to switch between to complete their work.

Digital onboarding platforms and processes save wealth management firms time and money while also improving the experience for advisors and clients. Choosing the right systems that offer these benefits will be key for firms looking to lead out from the competition.

With Docupace’s cloud-based platform, you can reduce errors and give advisors their valuable time back to focus on serving clients and growing their business.

Our system integrates seamlessly with leading CRMs, e-signature solutions, custodians, clearing firms, financial planning software, and more, so you can streamline operations without rebuilding your existing tech stack.

In 2017, an Australian millionaire called out his generation for spending money on avocado toast and lattes instead of building wealth and purchasing homes. This remark sparked a furor and reignited discourse about millennials — namely, who they are, how they spend their money, and why so few of them are achieving the financial success of their parents.

In wealth management, many firms and advisors are strategizing to understand how to reach this market, align with their preferences, and utilize technology to stay relevant in the face of ongoing fintech disruption.

As millennials reach middle-age, the conversation has shifted from viewing this generation as entitled teenagers to recognizing them as a powerful economic force. Here’s what wealth management firms need to understand about this demographic, including their unique challenges and opportunities.

Understanding the Millennial Wealth Gap

All generations have had their ups and downs, but Millennials — particularly those born before 1990 — had a particularly rough start out of college. Large student debt bills were compounded by one of the worst job markets in decades due to the Great Recession. This lackluster start has left Millennials behind in amassing wealth, buying homes, and making other advances afforded to the generations before them.

Despite making up the majority of the workforce, Millennials only hold 4.6% of US wealth. Data indicates that Millennials earn 20% less than Baby Boomers did at the same age.

However, there are indications that Millennials are gaining ground. Since 2016, Millennials have grown their wealth by over 80% thanks to more interest in investments and healthy stock market gains.

Factor in Baby Boomers transferring nearly $68 trillion in wealth to their children in the next 20 years and the opportunity for Wealth Management firms to work with this demographic starts to present itself.

Millennials and Technology in Wealth Management

Millennials and Gen Z are perceived as vastly preferring technology over a human connection, but the truth is more complicated. In the 2019 Edelman Millennials and the Future of Money Report, Millennial and GenZ respondents said that interacting with human advisors was less intimidating (54%) and easier to use (58%) when compared to roboadvisors or AI. And, when it comes to trust, Millennials trust financial services firms over tech companies 62% to 38% to create and deliver advice.

At the same time, Millennials prefer and expect a deeper level of personalization than older generations. This type of personalization can only be achieved at scale through technology. According to Accenture’s Millennials and Money: Next Era Wealth Management report, these digital elements are critical in their wealth management mix:

Computer-generated (robo) recommendations

 

Combining these digital elements with a human touch is the key to providing a balanced, personalized experience.

Aligning Your Approach with Millennial Preferences

Customization and personalization are key to reaching Millennials and younger generations. They want a frictionless experience that allows them to customize the look and feel of their apps and portals. They also expect their advisors to know key information about them and their preferences, so when they go to an advisor for advice, they have everything they need to make an informed decision.

Millennials are natural researchers and want to know more about investing and expect advisors to help them navigate their different options. Offering information that they can self-service allows them to get up to speed and then integrate expert advice into their process. Making it easy to reach an advisor digitally whether through chat, video, or email allows them to get the expert guidance they need quickly and build loyalty and trust in the process.

As Millennials continue to amass wealth, firms can no longer afford to ignore digital offerings. Combining the features and personalization of technology with a human touch will put wealth management firms at an advantage as they tap into this new and rapidly growing demographic.

It’s a drastic understatement to say that the wealth management industry is changing. In addition to the uncertainty and disruption caused by COVID-19, shifting client demands, smarter technology, and a more diverse client base are changing how firms do business. Additionally, digital disruption is accelerating and has already shown that firms with smart, modern digital offerings are those who have earned the right to compete in the industry — those who don’t have either gone or swiftly becoming obsolete.

Successful firms, those that maintain their competitive advantage and are prepared to face the industry’s rapidly changing landscape, focus their investments on specialized “productivity” solutions. Specifically, wealth leaders invest in solutions that improve client and advisor experiences, automate repetitive processes, and ensure data compliance.

5 Areas Advisors Are Spending Their Tech Money

In response to the sudden shift to remote work and additional industry demands, top-performing firms prioritized financial investments with resources that support and strengthen digital offerings and capabilities. These include digital onboarding, robotic process automation, cloud migration, cybersecurity and virtual assistant chatbots.

Digital Onboarding

The 2019 World Wealth Report found that 90% of high-net-worth clients place service quality as the primary criteria for selecting a wealth management firm. However, many firm’s onboarding experiences fail to provide the fast, seamless, and personalized experience that today’s clients demand. A survey by Fenergo and WealthBriefing found that 28% of today’s firms take more than 20 days to completely onboard a new client.

Today’s emerging technologies streamline the entire client onboarding process, reducing onboarding time from weeks to just days. Additionally, firms that automate AML compliance and screening free up wealth advisor’s time, enabling them to focus on client needs and offer better, more personalized advice.

Robotic Process Automation

As part of improving the client experience, firms rely on robotic process automation (RPA) to automate repetitive tasks and ensure processes and operations are compliant with company regulations or standards. With faster, more efficient processes in place, employee productivity and customer satisfaction are increased.

Cloud Migration

Cloud migration has become a top priority for dozens of companies worldwide. One driving factor for this rapid growth is the substantial cost savings simply by minimizing expensive IT structures. Additionally, the cloud provides advisors, clients and home office professionals with anytime anywhere access to important financial data. A comprehensive view of processes and teams is provided to wealth management leaders, which streamlines decision-making while clients have the 24/7 access they expect.

Cybersecurity

Assets under management (AUM) of wealth management firms are expected to grow by 5.6% annually by 2025, equaling close to $147.4 trillion — those dollars are likely irresistible to cybercriminals. The top wealth management firms are all too aware of this risk which is why many are allocating financial resources to boost cybersecurity. In addition to client assets, firms need to safeguard private client information to prevent fraud, extortion, or identity theft.

With the uncertainty from COVID-19 still lingering, clients want to know that their information—and their money—is protected. Many firms have responded to this larger attack surface by rethinking their cybersecurity strategy, ensuring they have the right tools available to detect threats and alert IT professionals quickly.

Virtual Assistant Chatbots

On the horizon for wealth management firms are Millennial clients (currently age 25-40) who love technology. These tech-savvy users expect rapid access to their financial information to make fast but informed financial decisions. Should they experience issues or have questions regarding their finances, many will turn to a virtual assistant for instant help.

In addition to fulfilling client expectations, firms that utilize chatbots free up advisors’ time. With a robot answering general questions or concerns, advisors can focus on client-facing operations. Additionally, as AI and ML technology become smarter, virtual assistants and chatbots provide highly personalized, professional advice based on a thorough market data analysis.

Planning for and Investing in the Future

While it may feel like the industry has been flipped on its head over the past decade, the truth is: Fintech-disruption is just beginning. Wealth management firms can only expect these massive industry changes to continue as technology becomes smarter and client needs evolve. The top-performing financial advisors smartly channel funds into technology that not only improve firm efficiency and productivity but provide clients with a modern, seamless experience they’ve come to expect.

COVID-19 created a new reality for the wealth management industry. While the short-term effects are behind us, firms and advisors are still anticipating and predicting the pandemic’s long-term effects. These changes have already completely transformed the wealth management industry — from business processes to client interaction.

Digitization, the rise of robo-advisors, a more dynamic client base, and adopting newer technology were all important trends within the industry before COVID-19. In a post-COVID world, many of these factors accelerated.

The Push to Digitize

Even before the global pandemic, many firms recognized the importance of digitizing business processes and client services. However, as COVID-19 spread, firms entered a new phase of digitization. With fintech bringing additional tools and capabilities into the industry, client expectations have shifted, forcing wealth management firms to re-evaluate their digital offerings and overall customer experience or risk becoming obsolete.

Today’s clients actively avoid any customer experience that is complicated or unclear. For advisors, digitizing error-prone, time-consuming, or complicated tasks has been a top priority to deliver higher client value. This includes processes such as onboarding, document signing, and account transitions. With COVID-19 preventing most human interactions, firms rapidly pushed to digitize these processes, and the trend is expected to continue in a post-COVID world.

The 2019 BDO Middle Market Digital Transformation Survey found that 97% of financial service firms are taking steps to implement more digital tools within their organization. Of those surveyed, 21% listed digitalization as the top priority for their firm. Firms that invest heavily in new technology to provide clients with the omnichannel experience they expect ensure their survival in the coming years.

The Power of Personalization

Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, the industry experienced a change in client base. Younger, tech-savvy individuals are expected to account for almost three-quarters of total income by 2025. Additionally, as the number of single or divorced women in the workforce increases, so does the need for a new type of wealth management.

This new client base demands personalization. It’s no longer enough for firms or advisors to offer generic financial advice. Today’s clients expect personal, tailored advice that matches their specific financial situation and goals. Emerging technology will play an instrumental role in the era of hyper-personalization within wealth management as technology like artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data analytics provide valuable customer insight.

A Human Touch is Still Essential

One of the most adopted forms of new technology within wealth management is virtual assistants and chatbots. The industry managed $460 billion in 2020, a 30% increase from 2019, and some analysts predict the industry will grow to $1.2 trillion by 2024. Within wealth management, these programs have become increasingly popular as they can provide personal, automated advice based on financial algorithms. Additionally, robo-advisors have automated much of the repetitive, manual tasks that distract advisors from client-focused activities.

However, while robo-advisors will be an integral part of the industry’s future, financial advisors are still needed. In fact, 84% of investors say that financial advisors will always be needed. The experience, knowledge, and planning of human advisors cannot be replicated by technology. Rather, technology should help support the client interaction, ensuring clients have 24/7 access to financial help via chatbots while advisors focus on client-facing processes.

Looking to the Future

As the wealth management industry continues to adjust to the new normal created by the COVID-19 pandemic, firms’ success will be determined by how quickly they can adapt to the needs created by the crisis. Those who accelerate their digitalization, focus on personalization and find the balance between technology and the human touch are those who are likely to succeed in a post-COVID industry.

Investors expect more services and expertise from their advisors than ever before. Many smaller RIAs have struggled to keep up with this growing expectation and the competition from larger, elite RIA firms. In the wake of COVID-19 market disruptions, merger and acquisition activity is increasing. To stay competitive in the face of these challenges, smaller RIAs need to learn from and adapt to the strategies employed by elite RIAs. Here are a few ways these larger firms play to their strengths and how firms of any size can too.

Building Teams for a Better Client Experience

Traditionally, the wealth management model consisted of a single advisor serving a client for their journey. Many RIAs still operate this way and build relationships with their clients. However, this strategy makes transitioning relationships difficult and creates an “always on” service atmosphere for the advisor.

Many elite RIAs have shifted to a team model, where clients enter the firm through a “brand first” journey and are served by several advisors with different expertise working together to help customers meet their goals. At Merrill Lynch, 75% of their advisors have teamed up with other advisors, according to Barrons.

The team model is becoming more popular because not only does it expose clients to a broader range of specialties and opportunities, but it allows for seamless succession planning when advisors retire or move on from the firm. This is important as many firms are faced with the challenge of an aging workforce. Over $2.3 trillion in assets are managed by advisors 60 and older, and the average age of wealth advisors is around 51. Younger advisors benefit from the team model as they can work directly with mentors and older advisors. As a result, investors become invested in the firm as a whole rather than one individual.

Empowering Everyone to Do What They Do Best

Today’s investor has a diverse set of needs—from investment to insurance, the range of topics that wealth advisors are expected to be experts in is growing. In many cases, it’s too much to reasonably expect from one person.

InvestmentNews’ 2020 Elite RIA Study shows that elite RIAs have invested in building specialist teams to offer deep personalization and support for their clients. Beyond just services to clients, employing specialists to handle business operations and development allows advisors to perform the tasks they’re best suited for. Marketers, technologists, and other business professionals help provide the support and polish that the RIA needs to draw in new business.

Source: INResearch 2020 Elite RIA Study

In addition to specialized in-house employees, elite RIAs outsource other business functions in coordination with their strategic plans. Rather than spend lots of time and labor on building sophisticated platforms or technologies, they integrate tools into their systems to get up and running faster.

Adopting Scalable, Sustainable Strategies

Elite RIAs are in acquisition mode. According to INResearch, “Over the next year or two, Elite firms are significantly more likely than others to acquire another advisory firm, add another adviser and his/her clients, open an office in a new region and to enhance client acquisition strategies.”

These firms can complete these acquisitions and expansions because they implemented scalable, sustainable business strategies that can see them through periods of rapid growth. Advisors are able to come on board and pick up work easily; and as firms acquire new specialists and advisors, they can offer a wider range of services, fee services and expertise.

RIAs of all sizes can benefit from the same strategies elite RIAs use to grow their business. Utilizing the power of teams, centering the client experience, and outsourcing where possible will allow even smaller firms to scale quickly and attract wealthier and more diverse clients.

 

Ryan George is the Chief Marketing Officer at Docupace. He is responsible for the company’s brand awareness, early-stage sales pipeline, content strategies, customer and industry insights, internal and external communications, design, and events. George actively engages in leadership roles in both the financial services and marketing communications communities. He a member of the Forbes Communications Council, an invitation-only, fee-based organization of senior-level communications and public relations executives, the CMO Council and the CMO Club.

Today’s financial advisors wear multiple hats. In addition to providing financial guidance, advisors conduct client meetings, grow their client list, complete administrative or investment-management tasks, and participate in professional development. It’s not surprising that when all these responsibilities are combined, little of an advisor’s time is left for client-facing activities. In fact, one survey by Michael Kitces reported 50 percent of a wealth management firm’s time is spent on client-related activities, and less than 20 percent is spent actually meeting with clients.

Not enough time to complete daily responsibilities has become a reality for many financial advisors. Wealth management firms can increase their ROI by improving productivity with automation and leveraging digital tools to handle the tasks most likely to siphon away valuable advisor time.

Improve Productivity with Automation

New technologies and digitization have accelerated and expanded in the last 5 years, and these benefits have arrived in force in the wealth management industry. Automation enables advisors to streamline processes, improve communication, and gain deeper insight into the financial market and their client profiles. Arguably, the biggest opportunity is time.

Tools such as AI, machine learning, and big data automate administrative tasks, such as data entry, freeing up advisors’ time for client-related responsibilities or revenue-increasing activities.

Even though the possibilities for automation are virtually endless, firms need to think strategically about where they invest to maximize return, reduce the burden on their budget, and deliver the most value to customers and advisors. Here are five areas where wealth management firms can increase automation.

Client Data Collection

A key part of financial planning is data collection and entry: a long, tedious, and error-prone task. Software programs such as AutoEntry and Precise FP aggregate client data into customizable formats, almost eliminating the need for a human touch. These reports provide valuable insight into clients’ behavior, financial preferences, and the market, and are far more accurate than manual data entry. Automated data collection and entry enables the advisor to act on data rather than input it.

Compliance

Wealth management firms continue to experience increasing levels of complexity and rigor in compliance and regulation. As governments globally continue to change and increase regulation, firms can no longer take a piecemeal approach and need a holistic solution that allows them to gather evidence and complete reporting for many different regulations at one time. When these advisors or clerical staff perform these activities, there is a high degree of variability and quality in their work. Executing repetitive tasks and keeping up with new requirements is a natural fit for AI and ML platforms. Many firms are investing here to streamline processes and mitigate risk from regulators.

Client Segmentation

Elite wealth management firms have long realized the benefits of client segmentation. Today’s investors are interested in products hyper-personalized to their interests, risk tolerance, and individual client profile. Firms with systems in place to create these segmentations with ML and AI technology can offer value-added services that are a cut above the competition without sacrificing advisors’ time. A well-designed CRM system improves segmentation strategy and automates tasks such as tracking lead behavior, monitoring customer satisfaction scores, and calculating customer lifetime values.

Risk Profiling

While 70 percent of wealth management firms use risk profiling tools, this is one area where firms should balance automation with human input. Tools can gather client information, analyze the current financial market, and present calculations, but an advisor should review the results and determine accuracy. A clear picture of risk tolerance presented alongside sound, professional investment advice is possible with assessment tools and an advisor’s institutional knowledge.

Advisors spend less time calculating and re-calculating risks with the help of risk assessment tools. These solutions handle much of the manual work, enabling advisors to make a quick, informed decision based on the clear-cut numbers produced by the software.

Rebalancing

Rebalancing is arguably one of the most important tasks performed by financial advisors as it touches every part of a client’s portfolio. This is a lengthy and repetitive task without the use of technology. Automated rebalancing solutions ensure a client’s specified asset allocation stays within an acceptable range by executing the appropriate buy and sells to get the desired percentage. Additionally, it automates difficult tasks such as tax management, trade-offs, asset class customization, and substitutions. Human intervention is only required if bad data or unknown securities are detected.

With the emergence of new rebalancing software, one study by Michael Kitces found that an experienced advisor who averages 96 clients only spends 2.9 hours every year investment managing a client’s portfolio, a true testament to the efficiency and capabilities of this type of software.

Increase ROI by Saving Time

Time is a precious commodity for financial advisors. When time is properly invested and managed, client satisfaction improves, and ROI increases. Advisors who recognize and eliminate time-wasters, leverage modern technology, and automate where possible are those who can spend more time on the ever more-important client-facing tasks.

Ryan George is the Chief Marketing Officer at Docupace. He is responsible for the company’s brand awareness, early-stage sales pipeline, content strategies, customer and industry insights, internal and external communications, design, and events. George actively engages in leadership roles in both the financial services and marketing communications communities. He a member of the Forbes Communications Council, an invitation-only, fee-based organization of senior-level communications and public relations executives, the CMO Council and the CMO Club.

COVID-19 has forced many businesses to adapt and even rethink their business models. The traditional ways of doing business, such as in-person meetings and physical document exchanges, have been replaced with Zoom meetings and digital signing.

As wealth management firms prepare to return to a new normal, digital tools will become a key part of meeting client expectations. While many organizations had implemented some of these tools, the pandemic drove adoption and implementation dramatically. And, as younger generations begin to amass more wealth — Millennials are set to inherit nearly $68 trillion by 2030 — they’ll expect solutions that are personalized and digital.

To compete in the market post-COVID, many organizations have optimized their operations for the digital world to capitalize on the massive growth and valuation opportunities that lie ahead.

Digital Companies Create M&A Opportunities

According to Financial Advisor IQ, the year 2020 saw a record number of mergers and acquisitions, up 20% from 2019. Of 159 total deals in 2020, most transactions occurred in the second half of the year. Wealth management firms that transitioned to digital workflows gained a key advantage over their competitors: agility. This agility is crucial for M&A activity. Whether you are a buyer or a seller in the M&A arena, your speed to market and ability to react to market trends, changing conditions, and (especially) disasters can be a determining factor in your valuations.

2020 also saw an increase in deal sizes, where the average valuation of acquired firms is said to have reached $1.7 billion. As the dollar figure of deal sizes rise, firms that effectively leverage digital solutions are in pole position as both buyers and sellers because of an increased ability to onboard clients, manage documents, and automate transactions.

Optimizing operations for more digital services removes the hassle of paperwork and manual signatures from investors and advisors, creating a more satisfying and productive wealth management experience that can be completed faster than ever before. All this adds up to more profitability and higher valuations, which puts you in a better situation whether you are buying or selling in the current M&A arena.

Digital-Ready Firms Are More Disaster Proof

The global pandemic taught businesses that their reliance on a physical location is dangerous to their future. In 2020, many firms were severely threatened by COVID-19 restrictions because they could not access physical files in their offices or meet with clients in person. In a PWC survey, concerns about COVID-19’s impact on workforce conditions and productivity was a top concern among wealth management firms.

Firms that transition to digital operations through a secure platform can access client data and work with clients, regardless of their physical location, putting their minds at ease and keeping business moving during an already turbulent time. This added resilience and flexibility adds value to a firm by making them less vulnerable to physical threats posed by elements, disasters, and data breaches.

As the world continues to recover from the current pandemic and enter a new normal, firms that operate digitally reduce their recovery time while increasing their ability to empower advisors and investors alike.

Digital Firms Win the Talent War

The wealth management industry is also experiencing a shortage of talented younger advisors and increased competition for competent professionals. In 2018, the Retirement Income Journal estimated that less than 12% of financial advisors were under 35. Younger professionals are proficient with technology and can be attracted to industries with more innovation and disruption.

The digital transformation of wealth management operations gives firms yet another advantage because they extend their reach. When a firm is not tied to a building or specific location, they widen the talent pool to a global audience. Advisors feel supported no matter where they are and can provide top-notch service to clients as if they were in an office. By removing the barrier of physical location, firms also open themselves up to new clients they would have otherwise missed out on, which adds diversity and quality to their portfolios.

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the digitization of wealth management, and many firms have made changes in months that were predicted to take years to implement. With the coming volatility and uncertainty in the economy, many clients are looking to their advisors to weather the storm and find stability. Offering solutions that meet clients where they are and flexibility to keep business moving during periods of anxiety will set firms apart and provide opportunities to serve their clients better than ever.

Download Report: Wealth Management’s Digital Future

 

Ryan George is the Chief Marketing Officer at Docupace. He is responsible for the company’s brand awareness, early-stage sales pipeline, content strategies, customer and industry insights, internal and external communications, design, and events. George actively engages in leadership roles in both the financial services and marketing communications communities. He a member of the Forbes Communications Council, an invitation-only, fee-based organization of senior-level communications and public relations executives, the CMO Council and the CMO Club.

Women’s share of global wealth has outpaced the market and continues to be one of the largest growing sectors in the U.S. economy. According to research from McKinsey, “By 2030, American women are expected to control much of the $30 trillion in financial assets that baby boomers will possess—a potential wealth transfer of such magnitude that it approaches the annual GDP of the United States.”

Women also continue to make big strides in leadership positions, occupying some of the highest financial management positions, including the Treasury Department.

While women have changed the game in global wealth, the wealth management industry has lagged in serving them and understanding their needs and goals. Even though startups and fintech investors are beginning to snatch up these clients, there’s still an opportunity for traditional wealth management organizations to pivot to include women in their list of potential clients.

Understanding Gender Differences in Investment Styles

Women have long been a driver for household economics. According to a study by Merrill Lynch, women feel just as confident as men in tasks such as budgeting or paying bills, but that confidence wavers when it comes to investment. Only about half (52%) of women say they are confident in managing investments.

While women tend to invest less than men, when they do, their investments are based on the values that matter most to them: family. Merrill Lynch’s study found 77% of women view money through the lens of what it can do for their families. Women are also drawn to impact investing and choose causes that matter to them.

Women’s investments tend to be more deliberate, diverse and agile than men’s investments. As a result, their returns are higher. A Fidelity Investments analysis of client data showed, on average, “Women performed better than men when it comes to investing by 40 basis points, or 0.4 percent. At first glance, this may appear to be a minor difference, but can have a significant impact over time.” While men tend to “swing for the fences,” women are content with a string of singles.

To attract and be effective with women investors, wealth management providers should embrace new ways to deliver information, offer more diverse advice providers, and above all else, listen to and understand women’s wealth goals.

Younger Women Are Showing Improved Financial Literacy

Younger women, in particular, take a more active role in building wealth. A survey from BCG showed “70% of millennial women (those born between 1980 and 1995) said that they take the lead in all financial decisions, compared with just 40% of female baby boomers.” Millennial women have more formal education than previous generations, and they’re participating in the workforce in greater numbers than their parents and grandparents.

As women in younger generations age, they continue to amass and concentrate their own wealth. According to BCG, “From 2019 to 2023, North America will continue to have the largest concentration of female-owned assets, with women’s wealth in the region projected to rise at a steady CAGR of 6.9%, although this rate is slightly lower than the anticipated global average of 7.2%.”

Wealth management providers should recognize this changing dynamic in younger generations and seek out ways to meet their needs and how they might differ from other clients.

Building a Culture/Service Model of Inclusivity

Effectively reaching women is about more than recognizing their share of capital. Wealth management professionals will need to see women as individuals rather than a single group with the same goals and strategies.

BCG notes that offering plenty of information and options puts the power into women’s hands to make decisions they can trust. “Recognizing the importance of data, leading advisors will use visualizations, simulations, and analytics to help women reach informed decisions. Dynamic tools that make it easy to evaluate different scenarios can enable women to see how they might put a portion of their cash and deposits to more productive use while preserving the liquidity they need.”

Building a culture of inclusivity doesn’t happen by accident. It is a deliberate, thoughtful process. Wealth management providers that offer a diverse offering of investment advisors and take a client-centric approach to investment will be poised to take advantage of the significant financial footprint that women investors offer.

 

Judie Endemann is Head of Operations at Docupace. Judie has supported executive teams through a variety of growth cycles, from early-stage startups to publicly traded international companies. Prior to joining Docupace, she served as VP of Corporate Services for a global digital media technology company. It was there that, in partnership with the executive team, she designed an acquisition strategy that led to the purchase of a division of a multi-billion dollar, publicly-traded company.

Wealth management’s technological shift is happening on multiple fronts. Firms are investing in new technologies while simultaneously scaling their existing systems and integrating outsourced solutions to create a more holistic and dynamic client experience. The rise of robo-advisors, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), and transparent, flexible dashboards offered by fintech startups have pushed traditional firms to adapt and innovate if they want to catch the interest of younger investors.

Spending on cloud-base solutions accelerated dramatically in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic as many organizations scrambled to implement remote working solutions or scale up what capabilities they already had in place.

While the pandemic can’t end soon enough, this trend upward will be around a while, according to Gartner. Cloud solutions are projected to make up 14.2% of the total global enterprise IT spending market in 2024, up from 9.1% in 2020.

A Thomas Reuters survey last year showed 68% of respondents looked to implement new technology to stay nimble in the “new normal,” and 69% of participants said they are hoping technology developments will keep their firms relevant in the short and long term.

As wealth management firms address these issues and other challenges facing them in 2021, here are some trends to consider as you evaluate and invest in new technology.

Technology Spending is On the Rise in the Advice Industry

Wealth management firms across the industry view technology as vital to success in the digital world. Leading voices like Fidelity and Goldman Sachs are competing heavily for the best tech talent as they implement blockchain, AI, virtual reality and other technologies to anticipate the needs of customers before their competition.

According to InvestmentNews, “the median year over year increase in tech spending was 15.8%, for an average of $120,309, an all-time high.” It is anticipated that this trend will continue at an accelerated pace, as experts predict annual technology spending across the financial services industry will reach $24 Billion by 2023.

What do the Executives at these name-brand companies understand best about technology? That it’s not just a tool, it’s a strategic advantage. This is why the industry leaders put a decent chunk of their revenues right back into enhancing their technology stack. InvestmentNews reports that firms spent a record 3.69% of revenue on technology.

Investment is Focused on Efficiency Gains, Enhanced Experience

Investing in software and tools that improve processes empowers advisors to use their time more efficiently, focus on more strategic matters, and perform at the highest level. Technology investment only works if it improves the way a firm operates.

InvestmentNews reports that wealth management firms look for technology that streamlines processes, automates workflows and helps them better serve their customers. This operationalization strategy pays off, too; according to FinancialPlanning, automating workflows can help financial advisors close deals 25% faster.

On the other side of the “virtual” desk is the customer experience.

Investing in technology that enhances the customer experience helps firms attract newer, younger investors and keep them coming back. Wealth management firms with enhanced digital experiences gain advantages over competitors, including:

Cybersecurity Remains a Top Concern

As wealth management firms incorporate more digital operations into their strategies, cybersecurity remains a top concern among advisors and investors. In 2018, 20% of the cybersecurity events reported to the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK came from financial services firms.

With breach events consistently making headlines for several years now, anxiety across the industry has steadily risen — 66% of advisors say that cybersecurity will be a top concern over the next few years, according to InvestmentNews research. While wealth management firms may not physically hold their client assets under management, they are legally required to collect and store vast amounts of information for all clients, making them a potential target of the bad guys.

As many firms shift into their new normal and uncertain markets, they’re taking inventory of their technology and seeking solutions that support a remote workforce and clientele, optimize costs, and provide a launchpad for innovation.

 

Patrick McMahon is Executive Vice President – Enterprise Business Solutions at Docupace. Patrick is an experienced sales leader who works with C-level executives and business owners to execute digital transformation programs and modernize operational processes. In his role, Patrick has helped many organizations, both large and small, in the investment and financial advice industry realize their true potential by moving to the cloud and streamlining their digital processes.  

Dear Colleagues,

First, we would like to share our best wishes towards everyone’s health and safety as we work through the challenges of the COVID-19 setback. Most importantly, we send these wishes with a commitment that we will work together to support each other in this unprecedented window of time. At Docupace, we are committed to the thesis that our best opportunity to minimize the long-term effect in our market is to band together as a Wealth Management Industry Team. In that regard, we would like to show our commitment by supporting the Team early.

Over the past three weeks, we have heard compelling stories from Customers and Partners about how users have been able to process unprecedented numbers of investment-related transactions completely remotely using digital solutions. In some cases, we have heard of organizations achieving all-time productivity highs, without a single person in the office.

At Docupace, we received this as a clear signal that digitizing as many elements of your operations as possible, creates a very powerful and adaptable Business Continuity Plan.

Docupace is pleased to have the strength and resources to take the lead on this important Wealth Management Industry Team initiative. Effective today, we are announcing a series of Digital Adoption Bundles that lower the cost and barriers to digitizing your environment. The summary of our Digital Adoption Bundles for Q2 2020 include:

 

I hope that everyone will be able to consider banding together as a Wealth Management Team and receive our Digital Adoption Bundles in the positive spirit in which they are offered. Our sincere thanks to all of our Partners who have joined the Team early.

If you are a current Docupace Customer, your Account Manager will be in touch quickly to review whether any of these bundles could be of interest. For those who are unsure of your contact, and have an interest, please contact us at docupace.com/contact.

As always, we are very interested in hearing from all of our Customers, Partners, Prospects, and Friends. Please feel free to contact us at any time.

Our best wishes for continued health and success,

Sincerely,