Customer experience

Bringing new value to old-fashioned service


Superior, personalized customer service is nothing new. It's inherent to any consumer transaction, and even more so when it comes to working with people's personal finances. But the definition of what superior and personalized service is is changing. In today's digital world, consumers have more information, and thus more choices than ever before.

With advances in digital marketing, bots, and targeted ads, the online experience has become more personalized than ever, and all without any sort of human interaction. Nowadays, a customer looking to buy a new electronic device might start by asking for advice for friends, then move online to research and compare products, and might go into a physical store to get the "hands-on" experience. But when it comes time to actually make a purchase, a growing number of consumers are turning to the mobile channel.

The Internet Retailer 2016 Mobile 500 Guide reports that mobile sales were 29.7% of all North American e-commerce sales in 2015, up from 24.6% in 2014. And according to KPMG's Mobile Banking 2015 report, mobile is already the largest banking channel by transaction volume among North American financial institutions. As a result, personal relationships may be suffering.

The downside of digital: spam

With the sheer amount of digital data and information available, consumers are able to be make more decisions independently. In order to keep up, many business giants have jumped into the digital fray. Digital communication is easy to mass-market, and companies are able to reach more customers than ever before. But there's a flip side to mass communication: customers are already inundated with so much digital advice, they've become extra wary of what appears to be spam.

In a study in The Economist, "Improving Financial Advisor Productivity through Automation", Capgemini identifies key challenges for wealth management firms in a post-financial crisis world, and low advisor productivity is one of the most important. According to the study, low advisor productivity results from non-integrated processes and technology tools silos, and is pervasive in the global wealth management industry.

The sales cycle has become longer due to a more engaged and knowledgeable investor, resulting in more time consuming advice and service. A typical financial advisor spends around 67 percent of their time on client facing activities such as contacting and servicing existing clients, new client acquisition, and portfolio management services.

But what's more alarming is the amount of time spent on administrative work and non-client facing tasks. A substantial portion of their total productive time (29 percent) is spent on operational / administrative activities. Advisors spend 24 percent of this on administrative related activities like back-office operations, investment research and client reporting, and around 5 percent on compliance related activities. Research shows that advisors are spending 25 percent more time on compliance related issues today than they did two years ago.

According to the study, the non-client facing, manual functions where advisors spend most of their productive time are due to:

  • Account opening processes that are product-centric (and not client-centric)
  • Lack of workflow integration with a high level of manual and redundant activities
  • Multiple entry points for client data and change
  • Lack of workflow integration with a high level of manual and redundant activities
  • Multiple entry points

The study comprehensively breaks down how the majority of financial advisors allocated their time in the year following the financial crisis. Of the time spent on client-facing activities (67%), 40% of that time was spent contacting existing clients, 17% of that time was spent on prospecting clients/new client acquisition, and 10% was spent on portfolio management. Of the time spent on operational activities (29%), a full 24% was spent on administrative tasks, and 5% was spent on compliance. The remaining 4% of time was spent on training and development.

By aiming to reduce the amount of time advisors spend on administrative work, advisors can spend more time on outward-facing client relationships and personalized service. Speeding up the workflow and automating some administrative tasks means advisors can spend more of their time on client-facing activities, so pre-existing clients get the attention they deserve, and there's further opportunity to bring new clients on board.