Online Not Just a Low Cost Service Channel for Mass Affluent Customers
20 November 2012
Recently, I have been seeing online portals and self-directed functionality migrate up the wealth ladder, from being a low-cost method of servicing mass affluent clients to becoming another service channel for high-value customers. This is a welcome development that will ultimately lead to better service and happier clients. Many firms may worry that by giving too much functionality to the end user, you are diluting the advisor's value-proposition. This is short-sighted. The online channel is now developed enough such that firms can offer different levels and types of self-service based on various client segmentations. Self-directed investor functionality via online portal or mobile device for the HNW market can provide valuable insights into what the HNW investor is thinking on a real-time basis, which can drive informed and more frequent client-advisor interaction. Let me give an example: "Investor X" just learned that his employer announced that annual bonuses will be reduced going forward. Investor X is now worried that his financial plan does not consider a reduction in his annual income. Investor X logs into his online portal account, and uses the calculators to adjust his expected cashflow. Once he completes this chart/calculator, the system asks if he wants to send this chart to his advisor; he clicks "yes" and his advisor receives an email alert. The advisor now knows, in real-time, that something has changed in his client's life, and he now has the opportunity to reach out to his client and make product recommendations based on the new reality. No longer does the advisor need to wait until his weekly call or monthly check-in to find out any new developments. In sum, the advisor has up-to-date information in real-time, and the client receives fantastic service. Ultimately this leads to better service and a happier client.