Big banks claim that cross-selling products and services between their wealth management, consumer banking and other businesses is more than just a growth strategy. Clients want—even expect—companies to be a one-stop shop for their financial lives, banks say, and a new survey supports that.
Almost half of all affluent investors (49%) would prefer to use a single company for most of their financial needs, according to a report by research and consulting firm Cerulli Associates. While the majority of investors under age 30 (66%) were interested in using only one company, the desire to consolidate finances was less prominent in older investors. Approximately 46% of those age 50 or older share the same interest. Across all age groups, 27% of investors said they wanted to use a single company just for the sake of ease and convenience.
Andy Sieg, the head of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, has repeatedly said better integration between the brokerage and Bank of America was key to the wealth manager's strategy, and what clients wanted. In November, Merrill Lynch adjusted its compensation structure to encourage advisors to refer clients to Bank of America. But the commercial banking division has the greatest synergy with the Merrill Lynch, Sieg said during a presentation at the Morgan Stanley Financials Conference last week. "Direct overlap" of the client bases and collaborative work between the businesses have been drivers of new client acquisition for Merrill Lynch.
Clients now expect their financial advisors to see their entire financial life and give "holistic" advice, including estate planning, Joseph Ready, the new head of Trust & Fiduciary Services and the chief fiduciary officer at Wells Fargo, told WealthManagement.com.
Still, most investors aren't consolidating their assets like they want to, citing complicated onboarding processes, according to the Cerulli report.
“Providers committed to growing walletshare should explore how they can use technology to complement asset transition specialists to help shepherd investors through this process,” Scott Smith, director of advice relationships at Cerulli Associates, said in the report.
Ready said he plans to address that exact issue in his new role by digitizing account openings to create a better experience for existing clients, and then scale those changes across the services the bank offers.