Strengthening Client Experiences: From Conference Rooms to Living Rooms

09.13.2019 - Rod Sayegh

Rod Sayegh, Head of Digital Strategy, shares his perspective on modern digital experiences and how technology can help investors gain greater control of their financial lives.

Q: How is digital innovation providing investors with greater control over their finances?

ROD: I believe information is power, and digital brings that information to investors in real time and in an easy-to-digest format. With more knowledge comes the power to control your finances better and ultimately gain control of where you want to go in life from a financial perspective.

Consider this:Do you know exactly how much you spend in any given year? It is common for people’s best guesses to be off by 10% or 15%—or more. In fact, investor surveys show only about one fourth of clients discuss their savings strategies with their wealth manager, let alone with their spouse or significant other, and they often struggle to understand how much and when to save. Since financial planning conversations usually begin with determining how much wealth you expect to need in retirement, how can anyone answer that question if they don’t have their current financial picture in front of them?

Gaining control of your financial well-being starts with having your financial information at your fingertips and being able to surface that information how and when you need it.

Q: How can clients take advantage of both the high-tech and high-touch aspects of their relationship with us?

ROD: High-tech and high-touch are not independent of each other—you can still have high-touch in high-tech, and you can still have high-tech in a high-touch business. People often separate those two, but I believe integrating them leads to the ability to provide advice and planning that is both timely and built on an aggregate understanding of a client’s personal financial situation.

The fact is, humans will always be at the center of advice and planning. Money is personal and emits emotions that can’t be easily conveyed in a digital format, at least for now. We have found that clients want high-touch human interactions when it comes to managing their assets, making planning decisions, receiving advice and for other more personalized aspects of their wealth management experience. That’s why they come to us.

They generally do not find value in having human interactions for repetitive tasks. I have not seen a client who thoroughly enjoys repeating instructions to someone for things like wire transfers, providing account numbers or a beneficiary’s name and address over the phone. Digital interactions can replace the mundane and the repetitive, and clients often enjoy the flexibility of using online tools from their living rooms, after hours or anytime, to manage these tasks.

Q: Technology enables our advisors to really get to know clients. How can this knowledge lead to better results?

ROD: Wouldn’t it be great if any company you dealt with knew what you like and don’t like so you didn’t have to tell your story over and over again, and that there was a language there that was already understood? Think about when you go to get your hair done. If you are like me, you have probably been with the same hair stylist for quite some time. You don’t necessarily need to explain what you want—they say “the usual,” and you say “yes.”

Similarly, getting to know clients and understanding what really matters to them is core to how we help our clients achieve success. Technology enhances this knowledge because it enables information across all touchpoints to be captured and placed at the forefront of everything we do. This way, our clients know that we have heard them, and our advisors can coalesce around a client with an aligned understanding of each situation. From there we develop a unified plan that becomes the cornerstone of the relationship.

This enables us to spend our time with our clients moving their plans forward, without needing to spend time reviewing information that’s already been shared. It ultimately leads to much more meaningful, personalized conversations and greater transparency.

Q: What is the most valuable benefit of a technology-enabled experience with a wealth manager?

ROD: In my mind, technology provides the ability to distill complex information into easy, memorable and tactile format that a document or printed statement will never be able to deliver.

If we are presenting information to a client, we have to think about how much information a person can retain at any one time. For example, information in a quarterly review is detailed and can be a lot for a client to absorb at once. Rather than keeping that document on the shelf at home until the next review, imagine if the client went home that night and accessed their financial information online. They are reminded of their plan, see their progress in real time and can connect the information they are seeing to the discussion they had with their portfolio manager. That’s not something you can do with a static document.

And, technology aids both the client and advisor. It prompts thoughtful questions and helps them explore ‘what if’ scenarios to help make important planning decisions. What if the client would like to retire early? What if she would like to purchase a vacation home? Online planning tools powered by algorithms can help advisors run the numbers for different hypothetical circumstances to determine what changes may be necessary in their plans to help clients achieve these goals.

Using technology helps advisors and their clients connect and consolidate information, understand spending patterns, predict future wealth and use this information to make proactive adjustments to plans. Achieving clear outcomes for clients is the ultimate benefit.

Rod Sayegh
Managing Director, Head of Digital Strategy

This communication is intended solely to provide general information. The information and opinions stated are as of September 13, 2019 and may change without notice. The information and opinions do not represent a complete analysis of every material fact. Statements of fact have been obtained from sources deemed reliable, but no representation is made as to their completeness or accuracy. The opinions expressed are not intended as individual investment, tax or estate planning advice or as a recommendation of any particular security, strategy or investment product. Please consult your personal advisor to determine whether this information may be appropriate for you. This information is provided solely for insight into our general management philosophy and process. 
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