Currently, the investment & wealth management industry is undergoing a monumental digital shift. Although predicted for a long time, both clients and firms had been slow to adopt and implement the changes seen in other industries and parts of their lives. Instead, they side-lined developments and continued to use in-person meetings, and occasional phone-in conference calls as the prime means of communication.

Then, as we all know, the pandemic arrived in full force and sent our world into a tailspin. Everything changed, and it had to change almost overnight, creating the opportunity to put previously side-lined digitalisation strategies into action.

Business models rapidly evolved, and with them, client expectations. Firms became reliant on new technologies and actively prioritised digital innovation. As the need to adopt digital technology became mandatory, this also posed new challenges and opportunities for firms to navigate and master.

What's the future for client engagement?

In conjunction with ESI ThoughtLab, Wealth and Asset Management 4.0, Deloitte's recent study shows that 75% of wealth executives expect digital interaction to have become the norm in two years. Some 89% of investors say their preferred channel for all engagement will be mobile apps: which will require a significant enhancement of the existing read-only web portals that many managers provide as their current digital solution to clients.

Businesses will need to revaluate and redevelop how they engage and operate during that time. As advisors and other staff processes become more digitised, 30% of us will see a more digital engagement eventually take precedence over the more traditional face-to-face way of life.

"Since the pandemic, we are seeing most of our client projects focusing on productivity, effectiveness, and efficiency. The more you can support and augment the workflow with technology, the better it is." Hans Peter Wolf, CEO and Founder, Appway

Remote working and web conferencing have changed what it means to have proximity to your advisor. And as clients start to pick advisors based on their skills or specialities rather than location, more than a third of businesses expect advisors to continue to work from home or in some other hybrid arrangement.

What are the benefits? 

Leaders provide a glimpse into this future; for example, about 4 out of 10 believe they will meet with clients online more than half of the time and that the use of digital will become more critical than personal interaction. And to support this shift, there will need to be an upgrade in digital infrastructure, consolidation of service, delivery, and data centres, and a rethink about the need for office space. While about 1 in 5 firms expect automation to cut the number of jobs, this will be balanced out by cutting mundane tasks, so workers become more productive, with 30% of firms expecting job satisfaction to increase as a result of increased automation.

Almost half of all businesses are already seeing increased revenue from digital transformation, and over the next two years, they are also expecting improved profitability. But operational and strategic benefits are also rising, notably enhanced planning and decision-making, more significant innovation, enhanced customer analysis and retention, and faster creation of new products.