Last month, Vestmark joined almost 250 leaders across the private wealth management industry for SIFMA’s Private Client Conference in Naples, FL. Now in its 40th year, the conference is known for delivering great content and networking opportunities to help wealth managers mitigate the ever-evolving industry. This year was no different – the conference convened industry leaders to discuss the hottest topics taking hold of the industry. In short, here are our takeaways.
Key takeaways from the 2018 SIFMA Private Client Conference:
Client Experience Rules
We’ve shifted from an ‘information age’ to an ‘experience age’. Clients now expect the same ease-of-use and seamless experience from their advisors as they get from services such as Amazon’s one-click checkout and targeted recommendations; Uber’s paperless, app-only interface that eliminates the exchange of money and receipts; and Alexa’s intuitive voice command approach to running one’s household.
Clients expect fast, automated, and personalized exchanges – and these expectations now drive the future of financial services. According to Lisa Kidd Hunt, EVP for business initiatives for Charles Schwab, “The client’s last best experience now becomes the minimum requirement for their next experience.” At Vestmark, we couldn’t agree more. Regardless of what type of client you have – whether they’re just starting to invest, or if they’re on the higher end of the spectrum– you need the right tech stack in place to ensure a service level that delights the client at every exchange at every moment of the investment lifecycle.
Technology – Friend or Foe?
Fintech promises advisors and financial institutions efficiency gains and improved margins in an era where fees are continuously debated and eventually compressed. We can expect to see continued demand for technology that complements the financial advisor/client relationship. Yet despite the numerous benefits technology offers, a well-spoken panel of leaders unanimously agreed that there are also risks.
Conversations on cybersecurity concerns, personal data security, and caution around data aggregation were widespread – not surprising, as the conference was in the wake of the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica data scandal and Zuckerberg’s hearings. SIFMA even rolled out its own Data Aggregation Principles to protect member firms and clients against potential security breaches and the misuse of personal financial data by third-party aggregators. Every vendor, regardless of where they sit in the tech stack, has a responsibility to uphold strong data security measures and, as an industry, we should work collectively to build stronger cybersecurity standards.
The Human Touch
Despite advancements in fintech and the influx of robo-advisors, the importance of a human providing financial advice cannot be overstated. An algorithm alone cannot prudently assess the many areas of an individual’s financial life and make the necessary strategic decisions related to retirement planning, estate planning, tax planning, healthcare planning, elder care planning, and the many other personal financial areas most people face. This being said, an advisor’s role and service to their clients can be greatly improved through the use of new technology.
With the help of the right portfolio management platform, advisors can enhance portfolio management processes to add value in the right places for their clients. Choosing the right fintech partner can help advisors scale and become more efficient with investment management, back-office operations, and relationship management. We see the future of investment advice not as a choice between a robo-advisor or a traditional advisor; rather, it’s augmenting advisors with a broad set of technology tools that enable them to capture and grow investor wealth.
Conferences, like the SIFMA Private Client Conference, help us better understand where the wealth management industry is now and where it’s going. We are pleased to have a hand in shaping how the industry is delivering advice using technology and look forward to attending more industry conferences in 2018. For where we’ll be next, check out our events page and for related industry conferences, check out our related blog post.
By Nichlaus Thacker, SVP, Business Development