Woman working on her laptopThe asset and wealth management industry continues to experience a lot of consolidation with deals such as Morgan Stanley/E*Trade/Eaton Vance, Schwab/TD Ameritrade, and Franklin Templeton/Legg Mason. Scale is becoming an important competitive advantage in this winner-takes-all environment.

Leaders in sales and marketing at these firms are pressured from all sides to be more relevant and valuable to their clients. Not only are they competing with other firms for market share and encountering more price pressure, but their clients have higher expectations of them as well.

Both institutional and individual investors want personalized insights that will help inform their decisions for maximum growth of their portfolio performance or financial goals. Clients are increasingly more sophisticated, and as demographics shift, Millennials and Gen Zs are looking for more convenience, more channels for access, and more customized service given the rise of technology-enabled disruptors in the marketplace.

All this pressure understandably creates some anxiety. We would like to shift this anxiety to opportunity as we lay out how digital transformation can revitalize your client relationships.

Creating a 720-degree view of the client

Sales has primarily been a relationship-driven business. Increasingly these days, sales must be a data-driven business to maintain an edge with your clients. You need to know who you’re serving if you want to serve them better. But many sales and marketing teams experience data as a tax rather than a benefit. They feed all of their activities and client information into a customer relationship management (CRM) system, but the data just moves up the ladder in the form of reporting to senior management. It doesn’t return to the seller to enrich and enhance sales and marketing efforts.

So, the first opportunity toward delivering differentiated client experiences is to create a unified view of the client based on data that you collect from direct interactions. In the past, you had to access several disparate systems to obtain information about the client such as the performance of the investments they had with the firm, the overall assets under management (AUM), or the name of their investment consultant. A unified 360-degree view of the client is already an improvement over those fragmented and incomplete profiles.

An even more exciting opportunity is to expand beyond the firm to gather external data that the client is creating out in the world through their own engagements. This data can be sourced from social media, citations in articles, and speaking engagements—anything available in the public record. This 720-degree view may sound like hyperbole, but by leveraging technology, it is achievable.

Once you have access to a more complete client profile, your relationship with the client changes. You’re no longer limited to a reactive sales approach, where you lead with a product pitch and respond only to what the client tells you directly. Instead, you can use a proactive client-centric approach, reaching out in anticipation of their needs because you already have a holistic picture of who they are.

The 720-degree view enables a digital feedback loop where data-driven interactions generate even more data. At a time when face-to-face interactions are limited, better client knowledge can also help foster the intimacy that is harder to achieve virtually.

Examples of the digital feedback loop

When you are more proactive and knowledgeable in your sales and marketing, you’ll see this digital feedback loop show up in several ways.

More intelligent prospecting

With data, you can segment and target your best audience in the most effective way. Half the battle is choosing where to spend your limited and valuable time. With a 720-degree view and leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML), you can pinpoint prospects who give you the highest probability of success. You can use technology to identify a client’s life events (for example, having a baby) and suggest the next best action (opening a 529 plan or education investment account).

Tailoring content

By further leveraging the data, you can tailor content for your client, which will make each interaction more productive and meaningful. It will also help identify new sources of revenue, generate scale, and educate your client on new ways of thinking. Those are the really exciting opportunities. For example, say your 720-degree view of the client shows you that your client posted an article on social media about the benefits of investing in emerging markets. You can capitalize on this opportunity by tailoring marketing content and teeing up discussions relevant to emerging markets.

Simplify the client onboarding and services process

Using the same data sources, you can start to simplify the client onboarding and services process. Once the sale is completed, client onboarding is typically the first client touchpoint and continues as a key focus for financial institutions post-pandemic due to cost, capacity, productivity, and operational efficiencies.

The client onboarding process can be extremely manual and complex, given different regulatory and documentation requirements from multiple touchpoints across various siloes, functions, and stakeholders. In many scenarios, the same clients need to be onboarded for each asset class due to nonintegrated systems or siloed data. Creating a unified view of the client in one centralized location and layering on workflow automation, as well as AI, will help to streamline this essential function. For example, natural language processing can be used to read the myriad of forms that clients must complete to be onboarded.

When you offer these kinds of differentiated client experiences, you’re no longer just another vendor selling a cookie-cutter commodity. You are a trusted partner for your clients, ready to help them with whatever they need. It becomes much easier to treat every client as your best and most important client. You understand how they’re evolving, and you can use data-driven analytics to predict their next steps. The bond with a trusted partner is much harder to break, and building that bond is how you foster loyalty.

Microsoft can guide you step by step in this data-driven journey, whether through Microsoft Consulting Services or our large partner ecosystem.

To learn more about intelligent sales processes, check out the white paper Enrich Client Relationships at Scale with Intelligent Sales Advisor.