One of the most coveted and highly sought-after segments for Financial Services companies in particular is the affluent and high net worth segment. Perhaps obviously, those clients who have larger amounts of capital to invest represent more revenue potential for their advisors and their organizations, including the opportunities for business growth through the addition of multiple investment and insurance products and services to their portfolios.
Of course, attracting and retaining high net worth clients is highly competitive, and organizations will spend substantial proportions of their marketing budgets to win this business. And while it may be tempting to keep doing what has always been done, relying on premium service models, brand reputation, and past relationships to maintain and grow this segment, the fact is that those customers, their needs, and the environment are constantly changing. Thus it’s important to stay in touch with them in terms of who they are, what matters most, and how they prefer to interact with their financial institutions.
Based on data gathered through leading market research techniques, Phase 5 helps organizations on their journey to customer-centricity by identifying the best opportunities for innovation and product development, user experience design, and customer experience and loyalty. Some applicable themes that have surfaced in our latest research include:
- Human mediated interventions in a digital world
- 360-degree views of the customer
- Key inflection points in the client journey
Read on for insights related to each of the above themes, and thought-starters for how your organization can strategically invest to secure a share of the high-net-worth segment.
Human Mediated Interventions in a Digital World
It’s true that a digital transformation is and has been taking place for some time, accelerated by the demands of doing business during the pandemic. Digital tools offer us fast, efficient, contactless service where the possibility of misunderstanding and/or human error is minimized. What’s not to love about that?
Our research shows that while consumers certainly have expectations about a company’s basic online service capabilities, not every customer is comfortable using primarily digital channels (e.g., 21% of our U.S. consumer survey respondents in 2021 reported being uncomfortable applying for a credit card online). In certain situations, where information may be particularly sensitive or where a real conversation might better inform a decision, a human touch is actually preferred. For example, when it comes to verifying identity online by uploading personal ID, 48% of our U.S. respondents in 2021 reported being uncomfortable with the idea. Given the potential value of a high-net-worth customer, it’s important to understand the digital preferences of your particular client base with respect to the products and services you offer.
A human touch at the right point in the customer relationship can also create a feeling of exclusivity and premium service, fostering loyalty and retention. Our studies have shown positive impact when a real person with executive authority “bends the rules” on the spot to delight a client. This concept is something that the hospitality industry understands and delivers well, with class of service upgrades, complimentary tickets, or even free appetizers for VIP customers. A digital tool can follow rules and trigger special offers perhaps more cost-effectively for tier 2 clients, but for the very best ones, a human who can override technology can create something truly special and unique. (It also helps with employee satisfaction; our studies have shown that financial advisors find having autonomous executive decision-making capabilities highly motivating).
360 Degree Views of the Customer
While this concept isn’t a new one, it is extremely relevant for companies that serve the high-net-worth segment. A line of sight into all aspects of a client’s financial picture – business and personal – positions an FI to identify and respond to key opportunities that can be beneficial to both the client and the financial institution.
Financial advisors also appreciate the opportunity to better know their clients in order to be true custodians of their financial success. Our studies indicate that advisors value tools that enable them to see the varied needs of their clients, and systems that help eliminate barriers between business and personal banking.
Clients appreciate gestures that signal value based on knowledge of who they are, as well as seamless service experiences across departments within their financial institution. In fact, 95% of respondents in our 2021 State of SMB survey of small business owners said they prefer to keep the majority of their banking services with the same bank, and yet only 63% actually use the same bank for both business and personal needs. Further results from our 2021 study of over 2,000 consumers and small businesses show that customer satisfaction with personal financial institutions declined 29% in the course of one year. Clearly there is an opportunity to be more customer-centric.
Key Inflection Points in the Client Journey - from Affluent to High Net Worth
Needs and expectations change as clients move along the spectrum from affluent to high net worth. Identifying key inflection points in the client journey and responding with relevant products and services that anticipate needs at the right moment in time can both deepen the relationship and protect it from competitive threats.
Our experience has shown that applying a Jobs to be Done (JTBD) approach to the customer journey mapping exercise is extremely effective. Framing customer perspectives in terms of the “job” they need done (as opposed to a specific product or service they need) helps organizations to not only better understand their clients’ likes, dislikes, and moments of truth, but it also reveals the deeper motivations behind their decisions and actions.
For affluent and high net worth customers, an early milestone happens when a new client is welcomed, and their “job” includes learning all about the institution they’ve just entrusted in order to validate their choice. This creates an opportunity to showcase the diversity of investment options and service experiences available now, as well as offer a preview of those that are exclusively available to high-net-worth clients. This practice can serve to build anticipation for the future and generate motivation to reach that status.
Throughout customer journey mapping, research can eliminate the guesswork by identifying and quantifying other important moments and jobs for a specific customer base. Indicators might include client queries (digital or through advisor), new product additions, new wealth levels, or major market events. Proactively offering support, advice, and/or special perks at these times strengthens loyalty and can convert more of the client’s business overall. And as mentioned above, when advisors have a 360-degree view of their clients, they are better equipped to foresee and act on those key inflection points.
Affluent and high net worth clients represent an attractive segment in which many financial institutions are willing to invest given their potential long-term profitability. That said, the competition for these customers is fierce. The smartest organizations leverage data and analytics to inform their choices about where and how to invest. We recommend conducting research and analysis to understand these most valuable customers better, and more specifically to understand how to balance digital tools with human touch, how to equip advisors with a 360-degree view of the customer, and how to identify critical moments within the client journey. Contact us at Phase 5 to discuss how we can help you on your journey to customer-centricity.