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What do affluent clients expect from future-proof private banks?


In financial services, digital transformation has given rise to a new era of client-centric services. The experience of the pandemic combined with new innovations in banking technology means clients expect more from their interactions with financial advisors, forcing private banks to rethink their value proposition. Nonetheless, significant gaps continue to exist in the world of wealth management.

Simply put, the industry is yet to embrace the full scope of digital innovations available on the market. As such, high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) are not benefiting from the convenience and customization options that come with an optimized digital offering—and it shows. An entire third of HNWIs report feeling unsatisfied with the financial advice provided by their main banks, where one in five opted to move their assets to another bank during the pandemic.

New clientele spell new opportunities

Part of the problem stems from a lack of customer-centricity when it comes to providing sales and advice channels. Specifically, financial services providers are missing a trick when it comes to their segmentation models. The future of private banking is younger HNWIs—and for this, wealth management professionals must set their sights on Millennials.

This decade, American families who have between $5 million to $30 million in investable assets are set to leave younger generations $8.8 trillion. In Europe, their Millennial counterparts will collectively inherit $3.2 trillion, while this figure stands at $1.9 trillion in Asia according to Forrester. Needless to say, the expectations of these individuals are different from those of their parents and grandparents. For that reason, it’s no surprise that 90% of generational wealth transfers typically result in a change of advisors. 

The new generation of Millennial investors are highly strategic with modern value alignments—and they’re also digital natives. They want financial advice, but delivered differently. 

The run-down: Meeting client expectations in wealth management today

With the shift to digitally-enabled client services well underway, now is time for financial organizations to optimize their offering for the future. That said, future-proof solutions involve strategic digital implementation. The real opportunities lie in leveraging technology to augment high-touch interactions—and hit upon key client expectations in today’s wealth management landscape. Below, we take a look at five of them in more detail.

1. World-class digital experiences

Without a doubt, a seamless digital offering represents a promising avenue of opportunity for private banks. At a time where 51% of HNWIs are not satisfied with their firm’s digital interfaces and omnichannel banking sits high up on client priority lists, implementing multiple digital touchpoints is bound to be a strategic win for financial service providers.

Since financial conversations are often personal in nature, ensuring a natural flow of communication is critical for gaining trust. Digital tools such as video chat, co-browsing, and secure text messaging are key pillars of an omnichannel platform that truly sets private banks apart. For the client, the connectivity and continuity gained is sure to boost the quality of their experience; on the advisor’s side, these tools extend the ability to maintain a presence and address the changing needs of their clientele. 

2. Sustainable investing as a differentiator

The next-generation of HNWIs are differentiated by new concerns about the social impact of investments. For Millennials and even Gen-Z, the promise of profit isn’t a sole determinant of investment decisions—they’ll also want to know about the social and environmental reputation of the company they’re buying into. What’s more, they tend to punish those companies who don’t uphold these values, with evidence suggesting that under-35s are twice as likely to sell off a holding if a company is tarnished by environmental or social missteps. 

Online wealth management platform Nutmeg has been quick to take note of this difference, leveraging digital competencies to provide clients with environmental, social, and governance scores in its investment portfolios. Now that ‘value’ is becoming a multifaceted investment concern, the key for private banks will be to follow suit, effectively connecting with social and sustainability considerations among their clientele. Integrating these preferences into a seamless digital offering is likely to set private banks paces ahead. 

3. Ultra-convenient interactions

In wealth management, client services must go a step further than regular customer-facing interactions, raising the bar for convenience and customizability. Digital platforms that enable asynchronous messaging are the way to deliver this kind of efficiency, while also handing banks control of conversational data. As a logical expansion of the live chat feature, asynchronous touchpoints give clients the option of contacting advisors at the moment that suits them best, obtaining a real-time solution that causes minimal disruption.

The power of asynchronous messaging is being able to integrate it with third-party platforms. By expanding conversational touchpoints to include familiar platforms such as WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger, banks can offer clients an easy, ultra-convenient method of communication without sacrificing on issues of security. 

4.  AI-powered banking that understands unique needs

By combining the potential of human advisors and AI technology, it’s becoming possible to deliver personalized investment advice that offers clients even more value. 

Many private banks have already begun to implement next-generation strategies that address unique client needs, while keeping costs relatively low. Robo-advice player Betterment, for example, is using a tiered model that allows clients to choose between digital-only services or a hybrid digital-human offering. Another standout case is Swiss private bank Julius Baer’s assistant DiAS , which leverages machine learning technology to deliver tailored investment recommendations. Based on client data about investment objectives, risk appetite, and preferences, DiAS augments client-advisor interactions by generating tailor-made advice ideas. 

5.  Human advisors over digital tools

While digital technologies are great for collating information and generating personalized ideas, these should be utilized as a springboard rather than a replacement for human interactions. Forrester research indicates that clients overwhelmingly prefer interactions with people over digital self-service—and as the client journey progresses, human advisors truly are better-placed to deliver complex financial advice. Many clients wholeheartedly rely on financial professionals to make decisions on their behalf. 

In practice, this preference should prompt solutions like BNP Paribas Wealth Management’s “Be Advised” tool. The digital component leverages AI tech to send SMS recommendations to client’s smartphones. Then, the client either proceeds with the advice or opts to get a human opinion by arranging a call with their advisor.