By Craig Dunham
Recent reports have made it clear: firms are feeling stretched thin when it comes to new client acquisition. Aite Group recently found that it’s either “important” or “very important” to 97 percent of wealth managers when it comes to their firm’s long-term success.
Meanwhile, McKinsey found that Generation X represents only about 8 percent of North American advisor assets, and this doesn’t even include millennials, who are forecasted to spend $1.4 trillion annually by 2020 and who are the main beneficiaries of a massive $30 trillion transfer of wealth from their baby boomer parents.
These findings lead to one conclusion: the acquisition of new, younger clients will dictate the future of the wealth management industry. So how do advisors successfully acquire a disproportionately large slice of a pie that according to Deloitte is estimated to produce upwards of $240 billion in fees by 2030? The answer is in a fundamental reshaping of three specific areas of marketing and client communications initiatives.
1. Personalization Needs To Be Considered Table Stakes
Large consumer platforms like Amazon, Netflix and Spotify have been able to rocket past competitive services and industries by offering extremely personalized experiences for customers. For example, based on your unique prior purchases and search habits, your Amazon front page looks completely different than your neighbor’s even if you might share similar demographic qualities such as age, location and income.
This means that buyers—especially younger buyers who have grown up with such platforms as the norm—now expect similar treatment from all firms with which they do business. The advisor/client relationship is no exception.
In fact, traditionally accepted marketing best practices around “personalization,” such as using marketing automation to automatically insert a client’s first name in an email blast, have become table stakes. New consumer expectations of personalization require that every piece of collateral, every advisor/client touchpoint, is tailored to the individual, not their larger demographic.
2. Brand Consistency and Thoughtfulness Should Be Top Priorities
Traditionally, new prospective clients would visit your firm’s website to discover more about your offering, people and history. As the relationship progressed, they would rely less on what was on the website and more on their relationship with you as their advisor.
Today, the top-down “funnel” method paints an incomplete picture of how digitally proficient new clients would prefer to interact with your firm’s brand and with you as their advisor. Yes, they will want to have a great advisor relationship for counsel and expertise, but they will also continue to explore the firm’s website, read blogs and interact with the brand on social channels.
From the client’s perspective, they now expect consistency and thoughtfulness in all interactions: messaging, philosophy and information from your firm regardless of where the interaction occurs. If you send a whitepaper to a set of clients that they’ve already received from your marketing distribution team, clients will notice. This requires tight coordination and communication among advisors and their marketing teams to ensure brand consistency and, ultimately, a positive client experience across all interactions.
3. There Is an Urgent Need to Expand the Types of Digital Communications with Clients
Aite Group also found that practices that grew client households and assets by 5 percent or more over the last five years used video calls, instant messaging and social media more often than others to communicate with clients.
Today, clients expect customization when it comes to how they interact with firms. Whether it is through email and in-person meetings, or through phone conversations and texts, it’s up to you as an advisor and your firm as a whole to offer communications choices to each client and honor those choices going forward.
Released last month, Price Waterhouse Cooper’s “Top Financial Services Issues of 2018” put digital transformation at the top of the list. But that term means more than new internal technologies being implemented. Digital transformation means modernizing the entire organization to meet the evolving needs of the digital-first consumer. The most successful firms are already finding ways to do this, acquiring new, younger clients in the process.
Craig Dunham is the vice president and general manager of financial services at Seismic.