How to Digitally Transform the Wealth Management Experience

The wealth management landscape has always been evolving but as new technologies and advisor and investor expectations are changing at great velocity, it is more important than ever to keep pace and stay ahead of the curve.  It this post, I’ll discuss how to take wealth management to the next level through digital transformation.

The Wealth Management Digital Transformation..

Wealth management is undergoing enormous changes. As new technologies and business models transform the investment experience, emerging generations have different needs and requirements. Tech-savvy users are demanding increased access to information and resources. Artificial Intelligence, or AI-enhanced applications are becoming more commonplace, and robo-advisors have emerged as an alternative strategy competing for high net worth investor attention and share of wallet.

Investment management firms that have embraced digital solutions are better able to support their client engagement efforts. Leaders in this space are increasing assets under management and reducing costs, while offering higher levels of service and expanded offerings for valued customers.

I’ve seen multiple trends creating new opportunities. Deploying technology through the use of firm-wide analytics models, new holistic user-centric platform tools, and automated financial advisor workflows can expand the multi-channel user experience. Digital strategies are now allowing tailored approaches to individual investor needs and improving financial advisor effectiveness, collaboration and impact. Mobile-friendly solutions that support both clients and advisors also can increase customer engagement by providing more powerful interactive experiences.

Steps to Taking Wealth Management to the Next-Level

1. Develop a Digital Strategy that Supports Both Advisor and Client Journeys

New and emerging investment channels have changed how customers engage with the investment decision-making process. Multi-channel communications across instant messaging, video chat, social media, and co-browsing are becoming a requirement for investors to interact with their wealth advisors—how and when they choose. Tablet and mobile-enabled tools are now increasingly common for delivering and consuming investment information. Wealth management firms that create unified user experiences across user devices and all their platforms are delivering better customer experiences that will garner more assets.

While many clients are increasingly comfortable with technology, millennials in particular have embraced online transactions, from accessing research and reports to using self-directed investment tools. This generation represents a new investment segment with different expectations for technology than baby boomers. Financial advisors who support these different client sets require the right tools to deliver online services, such as interactive investment proposals, or sharing portfolios through mobile applications, in order to respond to new needs. Firms that are raising the bar include Fidelity, which has combined its broad business-to-consumer direct channels with access to its 401K relationships to create more cross-selling opportunities. Intuitive website designs and consolidated investment portals that streamline user navigation are now delivering information across functions to drive usage and customer collaboration.

Wealth management advisor meeting

Equip your advisor with the right information to reach customers on every channel.

Self-service offerings leverage technology and shift high-touch experiences to the financial advisor, who can then cultivate and deepen the client relationship. Aggregator models that capture information from the client through self-serve mobile and iPad applications are one approach. With clients increasingly willing to provide data about themselves, understanding their needs across 401K, bank accounts and IRAs outside the wealth advisor, in addition to family health and life events is easier than ever to gain a broader picture of where they are. “Life Event Models” can take this new information into account and indicate potential client needs and any trigger changes. These insights can direct firms to opportunities where they can build out additional capabilities.

By developing more interactive services, advisors can deepen their investment conversations and continue to build relationships offline, in addition to online and in-person meetings. Firms like Merrill Lynch are now considering the full client experience across self-service to active advisory services.

One example of an approach I’ve seen many firms take is setting different criteria for minimum investable assets for working with advisors. This happens until clients are ready to take advantage of more full-service, complex wealth management offerings. This approach focuses on growing client assets, volume and client relationships over time based on their needs, and developing a digital model to support and enable the entire journey, even the in-person interactions.

Segmenting clients to understand unique needs and requirements is an important first step in understanding how to provide significant advisory services around more valuable activities. This creates opportunities to move active investors into higher-margin products and managed solutions. Mass affluent customers with modest investment portfolios can gain online guidance and insight to help answer their questions and benefit from a lower touch, lower-fee model.

Technology can identify life stages that create opportunities to offer new solutions to targeted sectors. One example could be ultra-high net worth clients who require more strategic advisory services. Drilling down around individual user requirements through data mining is an effective way to identify trends and better service investors. Recognizing clients who are entering a wealth accumulation phase through advanced event-driven analytics can help to capitalize on potential investment opportunities. Wealth managers should be using these insights to develop new investment offerings and to create tailored approaches to individual investors’ needs around their risk tolerance and planning horizon.

2. Ensure Digital Enablement At Every Client Touchpoint

Financial advisors and their organizations are leveraging digital tools in multiple ways across the wealth management ecosystem. This enables advisors with more client information, provides a fuller picture of a clients’ health, wealth, goals, and philanthropic objectives, and increases opportunities for engagement. Firms are also able to serve more customers on a broader scale by providing hybrid digital and advisor capabilities.

Understanding key client segments and personas, as well as advisors and their associated journeys will help to ground the digital strategy. The chart below outlines the various stages and client touchpoints where there are opportunities to apply technology to enhance the service delivery experience:

  • Customer Acquisition: When bringing in a new client, focus on understanding the client’s objectives, needs, household, health, family history, and risk tolerance. This data should be captured digitally during up front conversations with the client and/or via online self-directed wizard-like tools.
  • Strategy & Planning: Analyze and develop an investment strategy and structure a plan that ties the characteristics gathered in the assessment to provide the relevant products, scenarios, and portfolios.
  • Management & Execution: Manage the clients’ portfolio, trading and risk, in conjunction with regulations and compliance requirements. Integrating into CRM and other systems, analytics can help drive this at client, household, advisor, branch, or regional levels.
  • Optimization & Tuning: Put in place appropriate models to identify life events, and provide reporting and data visualization to enhance an action-oriented user experience.
  • Broadening the Relationship: Anticipate client needs and liquidity events and proactively recommend new products to broaden their relationship. Leverage technology to expand networks and overall book of business.
Digital wealth management diagram

Mapping the client and advisor journeys can help to uncover the best opportunities for digital enablement.

3. Provide New Tools That Empower Financial Advisors

Leading wealth management firms are investing in new technologies that enable financial advisors to engage more actively with customers across the entire investment spectrum–from asset accumulation to portfolio construction, allocation, reporting and analytics. By incorporating a client experience perspective, advisors can better anticipate their needs. What client wouldn’t appreciate an advisor that saved them money by not buying a bad stock or going into commodities when interest rates were rising?

The technology shift has begun to “digitize” the sales and relationship management experience in a way that supports increased customer service and responsiveness. Cross-channel digital integration allows firms to deliver advice more effectively and build client connections. For instance, mobile apps and tablets are now being used both during meetings and as an investor distribution channel. Handheld mobile devices create an additional platform for innovation by increasing the opportunity for interactive experiences with clients to improve their involvement. Alerts and instant messaging services, video chats, and co-browsing all enhance user engagement.

Devices in wealth management experiences

Firms have numerous options for connecting with clients on the platform of their choice.

While regulatory and compliance requirements can be burdensome, new technology approaches are helping to effectively navigate this area. Automated financial advisor workflows enable firms to monitor every client interaction and relieve internal administrative burdens, maximizing advisor time in front of clients and minimizing operational activities as a result. Automatic logs and tracking of emails and client messages can capture all service interactions to streamline advisor processes and shift the focus to higher value activities. Integration with third-party data sources like Yodlee can also provide greater insight around clients’ assets held in other accounts. Other examples are client interaction dashboards and understanding the client journey throughout different life events and across households and family units. These can be effective ways to represent all transactions and activities online, enabling advisors to identify any changes and focus on prospecting.

Social media can also play a role in providing insight, though firms need to proactively review their legal and compliance concerns to effectively leverage this avenue. Some organizations have built online communities of interest for their clients to come together on relevant life topics (for example, philanthropic causes, or life events such as health issues or divorces) to keep them in contact with their financial advisors and demonstrate a broader understanding of the full financial picture. Clearly organizations will see the greatest returns—in increasing business development and assets under management—by increasing opportunities for relationship building.

4. Leverage Next-Generation Risk Analytics Platforms and Portals

Leveraging big data can be a powerful way to streamline complex transactions, and make them more easily understandable through user interfaces that employ data visualization. Organizations are building bespoke front-end reporting tools to capitalize on areas where they can differentiate offerings. For instance, a global risk book with key performance indicators can provide unique views into portfolios at the organizational, financial advisor, and customer level. This can also support compliance with investment mandates and conformance with corporate investment objectives and strategies.

Customer Data Hubs are building in high value intelligence, enabling organizations to collect data about customers beyond CRM and website usage (for performance reporting) and incorporating other data points (family, health, goals). As Gartner Analyst Jake Sorfman says:


“If we truly want to erase the seams between (customer experience) channels and experiences, these systems of record should become decidedly less distinct. Customer data and voice should be shared and orchestration paths and workflows should be connected and coordinated via a unified hub.”

– Jake Sorfman in Toward a Unified Customer Experience Hub


By aggregating and generalizing customer data across your client base, you can develop predictive modeling capabilities to provide more value to customers and enhance relationships. A user-centric development view that organizes advisor platforms around the needs and functions of financial advisors can reduce organizational costs by addressing work processes and lowering new advisor training and onboarding costs. New flexible technologies that utilize predictive triggers can be integrated with and designed around existing internal applications to increase financial advisor efficiency.

Recognizing your organization’s distinct needs based on its positioning and client focus can provide a competitive advantage. For example, complex family offices often have unique information requirements that may necessitate different systems. Predictive modeling can help identify clients’ key life events, such as promotions, or retirement and liquidity events, like business sales or intergenerational wealth transfers. These are critical junctures for investment changes.

Predictive wealth management models

Using tools to help visualize predictive data will enhance the financial advisor experience.

Forecasting and other systems that prepare financial advisors for client onboarding can support these events when they occur, and increase client retention rates. This also creates greater organizational stability during financial advisor transitions by improving access to client funds and portfolio changes. One example of an organization putting this into practice is a highly regarded trust bank that focuses on ultra-high net worth clients. This bank is currently analyzing personas to more fully understand how customer roles differ. Doing so will enable them to design experiences that optimize their platform and help their clients prepare for wealth transfers to the next generation.

Summing It Up

With so many ways to digitally transform and enable the wealth management experience, I recommend identifying your most critical pain points and potential opportunities. Investing in understanding key client and advisor personas and journeys will anchor your digital strategy and uncover the digital opportunities. With extensive experience across a wide range of investment management organizations, I appreciate the opportunity to share insights on new ways to create more rewarding financial advisor and customer experiences.

The wealth management landscape has always been evolving but as new technologies and advisor and investor expectations are changing at great velocity, it is more important than ever to keep pace and stay ahead of the curve.  It this post, I’ll discuss how to take wealth management to the next level through digital transformation.

The Wealth Management Digital Transformation..

Wealth management is undergoing enormous changes. As new technologies and business models transform the investment experience, emerging generations have different needs and requirements. Tech-savvy users are demanding increased access to information and resources. Artificial Intelligence, or AI-enhanced applications are becoming more commonplace, and robo-advisors have emerged as an alternative strategy competing for high net worth investor attention and share of wallet.

Investment management firms that have embraced digital solutions are better able to support their client engagement efforts. Leaders in this space are increasing assets under management and reducing costs, while offering higher levels of service and expanded offerings for valued customers.

I’ve seen multiple trends creating new opportunities. Deploying technology through the use of firm-wide analytics models, new holistic user-centric platform tools, and automated financial advisor workflows can expand the multi-channel user experience. Digital strategies are now allowing tailored approaches to individual investor needs and improving financial advisor effectiveness, collaboration and impact. Mobile-friendly solutions that support both clients and advisors also can increase customer engagement by providing more powerful interactive experiences.

Steps to Taking Wealth Management to the Next-Level

1. Develop a Digital Strategy that Supports Both Advisor and Client Journeys

New and emerging investment channels have changed how customers engage with the investment decision-making process. Multi-channel communications across instant messaging, video chat, social media, and co-browsing are becoming a requirement for investors to interact with their wealth advisors—how and when they choose. Tablet and mobile-enabled tools are now increasingly common for delivering and consuming investment information. Wealth management firms that create unified user experiences across user devices and all their platforms are delivering better customer experiences that will garner more assets.

While many clients are increasingly comfortable with technology, millennials in particular have embraced online transactions, from accessing research and reports to using self-directed investment tools. This generation represents a new investment segment with different expectations for technology than baby boomers. Financial advisors who support these different client sets require the right tools to deliver online services, such as interactive investment proposals, or sharing portfolios through mobile applications, in order to respond to new needs. Firms that are raising the bar include Fidelity, which has combined its broad business-to-consumer direct channels with access to its 401K relationships to create more cross-selling opportunities. Intuitive website designs and consolidated investment portals that streamline user navigation are now delivering information across functions to drive usage and customer collaboration.

Wealth management advisor meeting

Equip your advisor with the right information to reach customers on every channel.

Self-service offerings leverage technology and shift high-touch experiences to the financial advisor, who can then cultivate and deepen the client relationship. Aggregator models that capture information from the client through self-serve mobile and iPad applications are one approach. With clients increasingly willing to provide data about themselves, understanding their needs across 401K, bank accounts and IRAs outside the wealth advisor, in addition to family health and life events is easier than ever to gain a broader picture of where they are. “Life Event Models” can take this new information into account and indicate potential client needs and any trigger changes. These insights can direct firms to opportunities where they can build out additional capabilities.

By developing more interactive services, advisors can deepen their investment conversations and continue to build relationships offline, in addition to online and in-person meetings. Firms like Merrill Lynch are now considering the full client experience across self-service to active advisory services.

One example of an approach I’ve seen many firms take is setting different criteria for minimum investable assets for working with advisors. This happens until clients are ready to take advantage of more full-service, complex wealth management offerings. This approach focuses on growing client assets, volume and client relationships over time based on their needs, and developing a digital model to support and enable the entire journey, even the in-person interactions.

Segmenting clients to understand unique needs and requirements is an important first step in understanding how to provide significant advisory services around more valuable activities. This creates opportunities to move active investors into higher-margin products and managed solutions. Mass affluent customers with modest investment portfolios can gain online guidance and insight to help answer their questions and benefit from a lower touch, lower-fee model.

Technology can identify life stages that create opportunities to offer new solutions to targeted sectors. One example could be ultra-high net worth clients who require more strategic advisory services. Drilling down around individual user requirements through data mining is an effective way to identify trends and better service investors. Recognizing clients who are entering a wealth accumulation phase through advanced event-driven analytics can help to capitalize on potential investment opportunities. Wealth managers should be using these insights to develop new investment offerings and to create tailored approaches to individual investors’ needs around their risk tolerance and planning horizon.

2. Ensure Digital Enablement At Every Client Touchpoint

Financial advisors and their organizations are leveraging digital tools in multiple ways across the wealth management ecosystem. This enables advisors with more client information, provides a fuller picture of a clients’ health, wealth, goals, and philanthropic objectives, and increases opportunities for engagement. Firms are also able to serve more customers on a broader scale by providing hybrid digital and advisor capabilities.

Understanding key client segments and personas, as well as advisors and their associated journeys will help to ground the digital strategy. The chart below outlines the various stages and client touchpoints where there are opportunities to apply technology to enhance the service delivery experience:

  • Customer Acquisition: When bringing in a new client, focus on understanding the client’s objectives, needs, household, health, family history, and risk tolerance. This data should be captured digitally during up front conversations with the client and/or via online self-directed wizard-like tools.
  • Strategy & Planning: Analyze and develop an investment strategy and structure a plan that ties the characteristics gathered in the assessment to provide the relevant products, scenarios, and portfolios.
  • Management & Execution: Manage the clients’ portfolio, trading and risk, in conjunction with regulations and compliance requirements. Integrating into CRM and other systems, analytics can help drive this at client, household, advisor, branch, or regional levels.
  • Optimization & Tuning: Put in place appropriate models to identify life events, and provide reporting and data visualization to enhance an action-oriented user experience.
  • Broadening the Relationship: Anticipate client needs and liquidity events and proactively recommend new products to broaden their relationship. Leverage technology to expand networks and overall book of business.
Digital wealth management diagram

Mapping the client and advisor journeys can help to uncover the best opportunities for digital enablement.

3. Provide New Tools That Empower Financial Advisors

Leading wealth management firms are investing in new technologies that enable financial advisors to engage more actively with customers across the entire investment spectrum–from asset accumulation to portfolio construction, allocation, reporting and analytics. By incorporating a client experience perspective, advisors can better anticipate their needs. What client wouldn’t appreciate an advisor that saved them money by not buying a bad stock or going into commodities when interest rates were rising?

The technology shift has begun to “digitize” the sales and relationship management experience in a way that supports increased customer service and responsiveness. Cross-channel digital integration allows firms to deliver advice more effectively and build client connections. For instance, mobile apps and tablets are now being used both during meetings and as an investor distribution channel. Handheld mobile devices create an additional platform for innovation by increasing the opportunity for interactive experiences with clients to improve their involvement. Alerts and instant messaging services, video chats, and co-browsing all enhance user engagement.

Devices in wealth management experiences

Firms have numerous options for connecting with clients on the platform of their choice.

While regulatory and compliance requirements can be burdensome, new technology approaches are helping to effectively navigate this area. Automated financial advisor workflows enable firms to monitor every client interaction and relieve internal administrative burdens, maximizing advisor time in front of clients and minimizing operational activities as a result. Automatic logs and tracking of emails and client messages can capture all service interactions to streamline advisor processes and shift the focus to higher value activities. Integration with third-party data sources like Yodlee can also provide greater insight around clients’ assets held in other accounts. Other examples are client interaction dashboards and understanding the client journey throughout different life events and across households and family units. These can be effective ways to represent all transactions and activities online, enabling advisors to identify any changes and focus on prospecting.

Social media can also play a role in providing insight, though firms need to proactively review their legal and compliance concerns to effectively leverage this avenue. Some organizations have built online communities of interest for their clients to come together on relevant life topics (for example, philanthropic causes, or life events such as health issues or divorces) to keep them in contact with their financial advisors and demonstrate a broader understanding of the full financial picture. Clearly organizations will see the greatest returns—in increasing business development and assets under management—by increasing opportunities for relationship building.

4. Leverage Next-Generation Risk Analytics Platforms and Portals

Leveraging big data can be a powerful way to streamline complex transactions, and make them more easily understandable through user interfaces that employ data visualization. Organizations are building bespoke front-end reporting tools to capitalize on areas where they can differentiate offerings. For instance, a global risk book with key performance indicators can provide unique views into portfolios at the organizational, financial advisor, and customer level. This can also support compliance with investment mandates and conformance with corporate investment objectives and strategies.

Customer Data Hubs are building in high value intelligence, enabling organizations to collect data about customers beyond CRM and website usage (for performance reporting) and incorporating other data points (family, health, goals). As Gartner Analyst Jake Sorfman says:


“If we truly want to erase the seams between (customer experience) channels and experiences, these systems of record should become decidedly less distinct. Customer data and voice should be shared and orchestration paths and workflows should be connected and coordinated via a unified hub.”

– Jake Sorfman in Toward a Unified Customer Experience Hub


By aggregating and generalizing customer data across your client base, you can develop predictive modeling capabilities to provide more value to customers and enhance relationships. A user-centric development view that organizes advisor platforms around the needs and functions of financial advisors can reduce organizational costs by addressing work processes and lowering new advisor training and onboarding costs. New flexible technologies that utilize predictive triggers can be integrated with and designed around existing internal applications to increase financial advisor efficiency.

Recognizing your organization’s distinct needs based on its positioning and client focus can provide a competitive advantage. For example, complex family offices often have unique information requirements that may necessitate different systems. Predictive modeling can help identify clients’ key life events, such as promotions, or retirement and liquidity events, like business sales or intergenerational wealth transfers. These are critical junctures for investment changes.

Predictive wealth management models

Using tools to help visualize predictive data will enhance the financial advisor experience.

Forecasting and other systems that prepare financial advisors for client onboarding can support these events when they occur, and increase client retention rates. This also creates greater organizational stability during financial advisor transitions by improving access to client funds and portfolio changes. One example of an organization putting this into practice is a highly regarded trust bank that focuses on ultra-high net worth clients. This bank is currently analyzing personas to more fully understand how customer roles differ. Doing so will enable them to design experiences that optimize their platform and help their clients prepare for wealth transfers to the next generation.

Summing It Up

With so many ways to digitally transform and enable the wealth management experience, I recommend identifying your most critical pain points and potential opportunities. Investing in understanding key client and advisor personas and journeys will anchor your digital strategy and uncover the digital opportunities. With extensive experience across a wide range of investment management organizations, I appreciate the opportunity to share insights on new ways to create more rewarding financial advisor and customer experiences.

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2017-05-31T13:23:52+00:00