The connected client experience

The race to meet today’s expectations for a great client experience has started

Read the article and learn about:

  • What makes a good client experience?
  • What does it take to create the “right” client experience?
  • Why legacy systems block the way to the connected client experience
  • Whether it is too late to start the journey towards meeting new client expectations?

the connected client experience

Kiran Bharucha
Management Consultant, Wealth and Asset Management – Technology Enablement, KPMG

About the author

Kiran Bharucha has 20 years’ experience across Global Financial Services with a focus on Wealth and Asset Management. Kiran specializes in technology solutions and leading large-scale change programs enabling organizations to enhance, enable and transform their business proposition. Prior to joining KPMG, he spent four years with Fidelity International and 16 years with Citi, respectively.

Have you ever thought about your favorite customer experience? Was it based on the look-and-feel of the mobile and digital touchpoints alone? It’s more likely to have been about the end-to-end experience, as the pleasure of a well-designed website can easily be surpassed by the frustration of not being able to seamlessly interact and transact. In this article, we investigate what makes a good client experience, why wealth and asset managers have struggled to create the ‘right’ client experience, and whether it is too late to start the journey?

The reality

In a rapidly changing world, where generation x and millennial populations are much more tech aware and savvy, the expectation of a good customer experience is being redefined. Immediacy of information (at the click of a search engine button) is heavily influencing decision making. Clients are becoming more demanding and living within the eco-system of phones, tablets and headphones, they expect real-time access to information whilst on the move.

In reality, the wealth and asset management sector has been unable to reach the maturity of digital services offered in other consumer markets or keep the pace required by the digital generation. Retail and entertainment companies have led the charge creating services required by their clients; providing access on the move, enabling one-click purchase, simplifying search capabilities, allowing content to be downloaded (for entertainment), and offering simple convenient delivery mechanisms.

The wealth and asset management challenge

The wealth and asset management industry is keen to embrace digital. However, these firms face a bigger challenge than other sectors due to their rapid expansion through organic growth and acquisitions. In many firms, core technology solutions were implemented over 20 years ago, while functionality has since continued to be added and has diverged across business lines. These solutions were developed in an era when batch processing was seen as innovative. Since then, distributed solutions have been built alongside legacy to accommodate growth and improve access to data. This short-term tactical approach has led to a highly complex, closed, and fragmented application and data architecture. Consequently, scalability and change are a challenge and even the simplest modification needs to be made in multiple places, adding significant workload and complication.

Enabling the future client experience

Rapidly forming a technology strategy to simplify the infrastructure, application and data architecture will be pivotal in enabling these organizations to move towards a best-in-class client experience. A scalable, flexible, efficient, client-centric solution will require a well-constructed future state technology architecture that integrates the front, middle and back office.

Simplification needs to take a view across the estate; infrastructure, operations, applications and data.  Decisions will be required on whether legacy platform(s) are retired in totality, or whether functions are distributed to newer applications reducing the dependency on legacy technology. Both approaches allow organizations the opportunity to develop more innovative, strategic technology solutions for customer touchpoints and data solutions, whilst functions such as reconciliations, calculations, reporting could leverage standardized vendor solutions. 

With multiple solutions and services across the platform architecture, it’s essential to be able to seamlessly integrate and share data. In today’s digital world, the Chief Information Officer (CIO) role has evolved from owning the technology estate to the Chief Integration Officer – seamlessly integrating the core platforms, content solutions, shadow technologies, vendor solutions, cloud services alongside traditional data centers and data. 

Data as a differentiator

Traditionally, most reporting across the industry has been through one-way paper and online statements. Organizations have been spending millions in creating traditional documentation for their clients and are slowly realizing it is providing less and less value.

Clients want interactive reporting, they want to be able to see the value of their portfolio in real time, watch trades appear in their portfolio whilst awaiting settlement, and get the latest information on the fund from an online factsheet, rather than at the end of the month.

The industry is moving forward on client reporting, including empowering clients to create their own reports. However, achieving open reporting requires well mapped out data structures (enabled by a data warehouse), a connected eco-system providing reliable real-time data, and fully automated workflows. The benefits are enormous as clients are able to select the real-time information they want on their report as opposed to using a ‘canned’ report created by a business analyst.

Whereas data has always been a differentiator in this business, it’s now paramount in terms of its importance to competing on a great client experience.

An innovative culture is a long-term investment that pays off

Embedding a culture that supports innovation across the organization will bring great value in this journey. The simplest definition of innovation can be ‘turning an idea into a solution that adds value from a customer perspective’. If everyone in the organization is considering ‘innovation’ whilst performing their day-to-day roles, there will be a better and longer lasting outcome than just a couple of people in a room trying to ‘innovate’.

The realization that a superior client experience has the potential to impact a firm’s operational performance across the board, from revenue growth to cost reduction, will no doubt help spur the investment and focus required.

Is there still time to win?

Great client experiences involve more than just the mobile and digital touchpoints. Clients are looking for a connected experience offering them unfettered access to their data.

A future state technology strategy that simplifies the technology, allows integration with ease, enables automation, and embeds innovation will be pivotal in creating solutions that are scalable, efficient and offer a superior connected client experience.

A number of consumer markets have made good progress in creating digital services. However, due to the scale of their legacy challenges, wealth and asset managers are still in the early stages of their digital journey. Superior client reporting has become recognized as a key driver of competitive differentiation and a crucial component of customer loyalty and improving the client service offering is becoming a priority across the asset management industry. The race for the best customer experience within the sector is just starting and there’s still time to compete and even win if sufficient focus and resources are allocated to innovation.