Why every asset manager needs a digital customer experience

By Anni Kristiina Salo | 7 February 2018

Digitalisation seems to be transforming businesses across every industry. It is an actively discussed topic around the world and widely included in the strategies of companies, institutions, and societies. However, after the financial crisis in 2008, while other industries have been concentrating on how to build their businesses in the digital age, financial services have been concentrating on survival, correcting internal processes, and adapting into the tightening regulatory environment to avoid similar crises in the future.

Companies that are too concentrated on internal processes are likely to steer budget and resources away from developing their customer experience. As a consequence, this is increasingly widening the gap between a customer and the financial service provider. The sin of financial services is being too self-absorbed instead of customer centric.

Luckily recent signals have revealed that organisations are increasingly starting to turn their heads towards the future: Focusing on customers and digitalisation. In the environment of increasing regulation and consumer empowerment, intelligent technical solutions are the necessity of survival and profitability.

Traditional reporting is insufficient in the modern world

One area of digitalisation is considering the benefits of data; how to collect data more efficiently and how to utilise it better. Data is required for internal development and decision making, but also for generating additional value for customers and improving the customer experience.

For customers, a good example of financial service providers utilising their data and processing it into useful forms is traditional print or electronic pdf reporting. Even though traditional reports might still have their purpose, the problem with this kind of reporting is the lack of interactiveness. Most likely the asset manager hasn’t even asked what the customer would like to see. Additionally, if the customer uses more than one service provider, their static reports can be impossible to use for comparison purposes. Does your reporting allow the transparency and comparability required in the modern world?

Customers expect you to offer online services

Customers are becoming more and more demanding and empowered when it comes to online and mobile services. As they learn how easy it is to book a ride with Uber or an accommodation with Airbnb, or connect with their friends through social media, they expect just as easy-to-use services from their asset managers too. They want their investment analysis being available 24/7 regardless of their location or device – and in real time.

Even if you would provide traditional static reports such as pdf reports online, they lack the interactiveness everyone is accustomed to. Shifting from paper or static pdfs to interactive online reporting offers a far greater flexibility, accessibility, information availability on-demand and an overall greater interaction with the client.

Interactive online reporting allows customers to view, analyse and compare their portfolios from different angles; customer can select the time period, analyse their investment allocations from multiple perspectives, and view their investments per portfolio or as an aggregated view, for example. Interactive online reporting can provide much more information than limited static documents.

However, just providing interactive online reports does not provide customers with any options for self-service. In addition to interactive online reporting, it is essential for asset and fund managers to provide a range of online services, such as allowing customers to update their KYC or risk profile information, open new accounts and portfolios, deposit and withdraw, and even create trade orders or fund subscriptions.

Do more with less

This doesn’t imply that you would need to turn into a robo-advisor or that you would offer digital services only. Rather this means easier and better services for your digitally-savvy customers and efficiency for you by enabling the automation of certain processes. Think of how many times have you been annoyed by having to visit a service point physically for an errand that you could have performed just as well from home via an online service, without wasting your precious time? You can and should still offer face-to-face services, but only in situations where they are truly needed. This enables your experts to concentrate on serving customers in a real need of personal assistance rather than concentrating on needless manual work.

Offering comprehensive online services enables you to do more with less. Online services give peace of mind for both customers and for your front and middle offices. Middle office doesn’t have to deal with sending reports as often and the front office or end user has their information available whenever they need it.

More inflow with less manual burden

When it comes to the history of reporting, we’re long gone from the days of crafting cut-and-glue reports. Over time, asset managers have built reporting tools by themselves as standalone solutions. Apparently, the maintenance and development of this kind of tool is tricky – the asset manager’s job is to manage assets successfully, not to build and maintain IT solutions. To avoid the maintenance and development burden, companies should nowadays trust reporting partners that are specialised in staying on track with the latest customer and regulatory needs in the market and are developing the most suitable digital solutions for these.

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