Real Time Learning

In all the talk about data and analytics far too little attention is being devoted to the benefits of immediate information, access to various platforms and the application of valuable information to existing and new forms of knowledge. The wealth management industry is an obvious case in point. Fintech innovation is and will spawn a variety of platforms that can generate information immediately, from the daily movements of portfolio values to the best life insurance rates for a 45 year old HNW business owner with a congenital heart condition. These technology platforms are readily accessible by investment managers, insurers, relationship managers and clients. The challenge for many clients and their advisers is access to too much information. How do you distil it down and customise it to what each client needs to know, not what they can access at the click of a button? How do you maximise the effectiveness of the hour in front of the client (results, not information exchange)? How do you balance that goal with the need to adhere to appropriate regulatory standards?

What it means for wealth managers:  speed will be as important as the quality of their advice.

The skills, behaviours and expertise to identify small amounts of valuable data, format it into valuable information and apply it to the client’s existing knowledge and their desired objectives will be even more valuable. Equally, the ability to not get lost chasing a strand of interesting information that leads to no discernible benefit for the client (poor usage of the client’s time) will also be prized.  Wealth managers self-talk and thinking about the value the client walks away from them with will need to change (educator and collaborator, not a salesman) in an increasingly digital age. Their marketing approaches will need to evolve faster than they can probably imagine (promote their ability to help clients live the life they want to have, client testimonials, references, case studies etc). Beyond the increasing ability to customise their products, services and relationship to the individual client needs, they will need to reinvent their business models to economically accomplish that in a regulated environment. Their remuneration basis will needs to better align with the value the client perceives they are receiving from the relationship manager, not the investment approach. Their use of powerful language and education skills will be a point of differentiation with their ideal clients in accomplishing that objective.

Internally, wealth managers and advisers organisational structures will need to adapt to faster dissemination of valuable information, at the right time, in the hands of the right person. Superfluous people, technology and processes needs to be abandoned. They need leaner and more agile organisations. They need new collaborations internally with asset class experts and external expertise merged with their own to allow the clients to make smarter lifestyle choices.

The concept of real time learning feels “foreign” to many in the wealth management business, whose desire to help their clients make wise decisions is tempered today by a wall of regulatory requirements. Shouldn’t the focus be on making sure we and the client have ticked the appropriate boxes? Yes of course that is important but your future is also about speed (responsiveness, value “in the moment” and meeting or exceeding your clients expectations). Time not money is your clients scarcest commodity. Your ability to maximise the return on the client’s time invested in accomplishing their personal goals is your future success metric.

© James Berkeley 2015. All Rights Reserved.

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