It is often said that customization is key—personalization is paramount. Reporting in wealth management is often the most neglected part of the advisor’s suite of services. Firms routinely consider online reporting and client portals as a digital version of the standard paper-based documents. Not much thought goes into providing a dynamic, intuitive experience that clients expect. Advisors who understand concentrate on the overall client experience rather than price or products, enjoy a significant competitive advantage.
An investor’s ability to aggregate, organize and analyze an often-overwhelming amount of information is increasingly critical to building a long-term relationship. A knowledgeable investor is an empowered investor. Adding innovative tools to a wealth management practice makes it easier to include them in the decision-making process, leading to a deeper, richer advisor-client relationship and a more satisfying saving and investing experience overall. One area of specific opportunity is personal financial management (PFM), which is a thorough understanding and awareness of a client’s savings, assets and investments to maximize outcomes.
Speed, accuracy and responsiveness are critically important to wealth management success in good markets and bad—doubly so during the current COVID-19 crisis. Innovative technology is key to keeping clients calm, cool and invested, as well as ensuring enterprise wealth management firms operate at peak efficiency to effectively manage portfolios when they are needed most. Consolidated dashboard and reporting capabilities have been available for some time, and as innovation has sharply increased functionality and design, they have proven to be particularly useful tools in periods of intense volatility that show little signs of slowing.
In wealth management, breaking apart traditional technology offerings to rebuild them in a modular format aligns closely with client’s needs and goals. More specifically, data aggregation takes this modular approach to the next level. Think of this as pieces of a puzzle that can be moved and manipulated in a manner best suited to individual investor preferences, forming a complete picture of their unique wants, needs and requirements, and arranged in a “shape” that is immediately intuitive.
Investors generate financial account data from a vast number of sources. Firms need to appreciate that today's investors are more hands-on in their future than investors of the past. Embracing advancements in technology, including tools for data aggregation, can position firms for growth. Providing their advisors with the technology to efficiently manage large amounts of client data pulled from all these sources can positively impact their investor's portfolios and their business.
Looking ahead to 2020, there are four major industry trends advisors will need to address: client experience, managing the needs of multi-generational clients, creating differentiation for their advisory firms and having a plan for data security. All of these trends have one thing in common, they require advisors to be nimble and creative.
Explosive growth in the financial technology sector combined with an unprecedented generational transfer of wealth taking place right now—and continuing over the next several years—will have a lasting impact. The effects of this wealth transfer will permanently alter the financial advice model advisors use to interact with current investors and attract prospects.
An exceptional data management process typically includes an extensive system of checks and balances and other quality control measures. Advisors need to be assured the data they present is "investor ready," clean and normalized to increase investor confidence.
How do you set up an advisory firm for success? Any number of external factors can make one firm more successful than a rival but there is a common thread to top firms—across industries—and it is something that comes from inside.
Exponential volumes of sensitive financial data are stored electronically and cybersecurity threats are among the more significant risks faced by firms. Because of this, industry regulators will maintain their heightened focus on cyber security. And one rule that will remain top of mind during regulatory exams is the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Rule 17a-4. Many firms aren’t as compliant with the rule as they think. This has left them unknowingly exposed to potential reputational risk and regulatory fines.
Every day registered investment advisors (RIAs) and financial advisors are helping investors make decisions about their financial lives: What colleges can I afford to send my kids? Will I be able to retire financially independent? How much risk should I take to reach my financial goals? Data is required to answer these questions, and is vital to help RIAs make decisions that will have significant implications for the future of an investor. But without high-quality data, the decisions made may be imperfect or even suspect.
There is a common perception that the average investor cannot understand risk. However, it seems as investment professionals get to know their clients, the more value they see in discussing the topic. If investment and portfolio risk is presented simply, most investors will understand. Investment professionals who understand this can retain and increase their business.
When measuring performance, results can differ depending on whether money-weighting or time-weighting is used. The time-weighted Global Investment Performance Standards (GIPS) are often viewed as an industry best practice. As a result, GIPS are often applied to all business models. However, money-weighting may actually be the more appropriate way to accurately measure performance.