After more than 3 months of remote working, will client facing and sales roles in investment and wealth management ever be the same again? In our conversations with investment management and wealth managers, we’re seeing a number of consistent themes emerge related to the sales experience so far:

  • Remote working and video meetings have actually worked far better than many expected.
  • It is generally easier to get into clients’ diaries and often more convenient for them to meet remotely.
  • The increase in client meetings has been made possible by less travel, which more than offsets any perceived drop in quality of the remote meeting. In fact, if anything, client service has been much more efficient.
  • On the downside, the lack of conferences and events, has made meeting new clients and developing new relationships virtually impossible. Conversely, taking existing relationships into a virtual environment has been pretty seamless - regular ‘Through The Keyhole’ moments have created levity and allowed us to get to know each other better.

We held a webinar last week to share our views on the medium term outlook for the sector. Interestingly, 70% of our audience cited digital transformation of distribution as the most significant change for the industry – ahead of risk and compliance, operations and investment. 

Firms are now turning their attention to how they can retain some of the benefits of remote working, while also addressing the challenge of developing new client relationships. In this context, investment in the digital transformation of distribution functions will be critical for firms to return to growth. This transformation will go far beyond video conferencing, websites and client portals, and will place data-led client insights at the heart of new ways of interacting with clients. 

Getting it right requires an approach which engages the entire business. We’ve broken it down into four key areas we believe firms should be focusing on as they embark on this transformation:

  1. Prepare for a hybrid digital/face to face world as a permanent change – unlike the extreme of the past few months, the pendulum will likely settle somewhere in the middle. There will always be a need for face-to-face contact, ultimately, clients need to feel the love. Will it be 100% of the time though? Perhaps not. Striking a balance between efficiency and relationship development will be key.
  2. Develop a data foundation that drives insights – thus, supporting more effective client engagement, meetings and delivering better client experience. We call this an Insight Driven Organisation (IDO). You can read more here.
  3. Reinvigorate the workforce - a shift in talent and culture will be needed to reflect new requirements for data and analytics skills, and a faster, more agile way of working
  4. Stay alert – and not just in a Boris Johnson type of way.  Develop surveillance capabilities, both to monitor (and control) client facing activity in a remote environment and to protect against cyber threats.

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