How Technology Can Help the Customer Journey for High Net Worth Individuals

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How Technology Can Help the Customer Journey for High Net Worth Individuals

The customer journey, like much of the 21st century, has changed to include more technological aspects. Digital advertising and “Googling” are a couple examples of technology that have changed the customer journey for the masses.  They have made it easier to entice a potential customer to you through the awareness and decision phase through advertising and easily accessible information. Narrowing the customer journey down to High Net Worth Individuals (HNWI), you start to get a sense of how technology has impacted their consumer journey – which may or may not differ from the mass consumer market.

In a recent study conducted by LinkedIn and Greenwich Associates, it broke down the customer journey into 5 phases: awareness, consideration and selection, onboarding and action planning, network development, and keeping the relationship alive. In this article, we’ll take a look at technology’s impact on each step and interpret the data.

AWARENESS

In this phase, the client has to be aware of the wealth manager. Even though technology has added many different channels where you can reach out to potential clients, recommendations from family or friends remains one of the top ways that a HNWI would choose an advisor.

Once HNW clients are made aware, it can be difficult to acquire them since nearly 2/3 have had their wealth manager for over 5 years and have built up trust with them. Although, 2 out of 5 Millennials and over ¼ of Generation X plan to switch their wealth manager in the next 12 months. The change in wealth manager may not necessarily be because of higher returns, but could be due to service, engagement, and readiness to try something new. A chart with the exact percentages of whether or not each demographic plans to change their wealth manager is given below.

 

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The awareness phase is still fairly traditional since technology has not beaten word of mouth recommendations from trusted individuals. It has, however, opened up the opportunity to acquire clients that were not fully satisfied with their past manager – mainly within the millennial demographic.

 

CONSIDERATION & SELECTION

The consideration and selection is the phase where the client would engage in research to determine which investor best suits them. A personal touch (mainly word-of-mouth) still exists in this phase as 1/2 of HNWIs look to family and friends for evaluations, and over 2/3 base their evaluations on face-to-face interactions.

Even though personal metrics, such as a face-to-face meetings or recommendations, play a part, the manager has to use all the tools available to stand out in this market. This includes developing their digital presence. This is because 1/3 of HNW Millennials use social media profiles of potential wealth advisors as their evaluation process. Half of HNW Millennials look at an advisor’s posts on social media. The need for social media drops significantly with older generations, but it is offset since clients with a net worth of over $10 million determine it as being important.

importance_useofsocialmedia

 

In terms of robo-investing, only 3% of HNWIs interviewed say robo-investing factor into their decision. The use of robo-investors has been limited to more routine, typical strategies while wealth managers are used for more unique and complex strategies.

In the consideration phase, HNWI’s preference for technology increased slightly. This is mainly to assist the individuals that want to research on their own. Although, the importance of a social media presence increases with the younger generation and with individuals with more investable assets. This importance, with the younger generation, is most likely due to their familiarity and the importance they place on social media in their personal lives. For the individuals with the highest investable assets, it is most likely due to their due diligence as they have much more on the line.

 

ONBOARDING AND ACTION PLANNING

Once a wealth manager is selected, the path and action plan moving forward has to be decided. To determine this action plan, an in-person meeting is still the preference for most demographics. However, a shift occurred in the Millennial demographic as only 40% met with their advisor in person to make an investment plan. One-third took a self-directed approach by using their manager’s website to research options. This change suggests that Millennials are more open to engaging differently or are more prone to use self-service options.

Another part of this phase is the transaction. Based on the respondents, 85% of HNWI believe that wealth managers should use technology. This would mean anything from making the transaction online or easier due to technology.

A key trend we can see, as we move along the phases, is that the importance of technology grows as the journey progresses. There’s a noticeable increase in the want for technology in the onboarding and action-planning phase. More specifically, technologies that make researching, communicating, and the transaction simpler and more convenient were more preferred in this stage. Unsurprisingly, Millennials see technology as an important part of the later parts of the journey.

 

NETWORK DEVELOPMENT

Millennials, Generation X, and individuals with the highest amount of assets find it really important to compare investment strategies with like-minded peers – as seen in the figure below. These conversations are extending to online platforms, such as social media. These are less of a threat and more of a community-fostering tool. This allows a community to come together and offer advice and foster goodwill for the advisor as well. Since personal recommendations are still very important in the beginning of the customer journey, this type of goodwill is very important.

importance_comparing_investments

 

For the network development phase, building a social presence, or an online community, is one of the key creators of goodwill to assist the wealth manager in acquiring more HNWIs. In this phase, technology becomes quite important to promote a conversation that will extend past physical meetings.

 

KEEPING THE RELATIONSHIP ALIVE

6% of all HNWIs expressed the desire for daily contact, while 60% wanted contact on monthly basis, at most. Although, 15% of Millennials want daily contact with their advisor when the markets get rocky. This could be a result of the vast amount of information that Millennials are exposed to leading to them wanting more filtered information from the advisor. Email remains the preferred method of contact; but Millennials showed their interest for different communication methods, such as apps. In terms of social media, LinkedIn and Facebook were the most used platform for financial planning.

Looking broadly, most HNWI prefer periodic contact through technology. It is best to group different demographics into their contact preferences and send market updates accordingly. In general, the younger demographic prefer more updates (through email or social media) in down times, but few updates otherwise. The older demographic of HNWI, however, is content with few updates through any market condition.

 


 

Overall, the customer journey for HNWI hasn’t changed much in the beginning phases. Word of mouth recommendations and evaluations trump many other aspects in the awareness and selection phase. However, the prevalence and importance of technology is growing in the later stages. Most notably, technology is used in parts of the journey to make things more convenient; such as, improving the transaction portion of the action plan phase, networking, and offering a more convenient platform to communicate periodically.

The best possible way to adjust to this shift in preferences is to deploy a high tech and high touch strategy. This means a blend of personal human interaction and technology to cover the different wants and needs of each demographic. A good base strategy includes offering real time communications during volatile times and limiting contact other times, creating groups or an online community, and using your client’s social media, by seeding content, to gain valuable referrals.

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