6 minute read 25 Mar 2022

Private & Wealth Management: AI as the key to reinvent client relationship?

By Yannick Grecourt

EY Belgium Financial Services Consulting Leader, EY EMEIA Financial Services Digital Service Leader

Innovative leader. Passionate about understanding clients. Curious about new technology. Energized by team success. Married sailor with 2 daughters.

6 minute read 25 Mar 2022

Financial advisors need to strengthen the relationship with their clients and AI might be the answer they are looking for. Here is why.

In brief:

  • Thirty percent of wealth clients are considering leaving their bank due to the lack of personalized approach.
  • Artificial Intelligence could help Relationship Managers save time to be able to focus on customer-oriented occupations.
  • Banks need to embed AI at all stages of the customer relationship.

Lockdowns have forced Private & Wealth clients to accelerate their use of digital technologies. On the upside, digital adoption is pushing up self-service, empowering client decision-making and reducing cost-to-serve.

However, the use of digital tools also increases clients’ expectations for a greater range of tailored services. Moreover, EY’s 2021 Global Wealth Research Report found that over one-third of European clients complain that their relationship with their Wealth Manager has become less personal. With the rise of FinTechs and other innovative players, financial institutions that fail to tackle these issues run the risk of losing their dominant position.

To solve this, emerging technologies grouped under the acronym Artificial Intelligence (AI) might be the answer banks are looking for.

It is therefore worth looking at how recent developments in this field can help create an ‘augmented Relationship Manager’, thereby answering the needs and concerns that customers are expressing.

Clients expect personalization and are willing to share data to make it happen

Nowadays, customers looking for financial services and advice are presented with more options than ever before. The rise of innovative players, such as FinTechs, has been endangering banks’ dominant position for several years. It no longer comes as a surprise that, to remain relevant, they have to redefine their client relationships to improve satisfaction.

The key to achieving this lies in understanding rapidly-evolving client needs. In recent years, the collapse of companies that have failed to do so in various industries, such as Nokia, Blackberry and Blockbuster, has proven how important this is.

For Private & Wealth Managers, this means offering tailor-made experiences with a human touch. Increased service digitalization cannot become an excuse to resort to a standardized offering. Indeed, EY’s 2021 EY Global Wealth Research Report found that 30% of wealth clients are looking to move assets to another provider in the coming future due to a lack of personalization or understanding of their personal goals and purpose.

Today, financial advisors need to go back to the fundamentals: investing time in customer relationships. The only way they can do this in an ever-changing world is by leveraging data. This will allow them to better understand each client, but also to spend less time on administrative and research tasks and, instead, focus on what really matters.

Client data collection should not be seen as a major challenge. The Global Wealth Research Report shows that European clients, especially among the younger generations, are more willing to share personal data with their primary Wealth Manager than with their doctor if this allows them to receive more relevant services and an enhanced customer experience. The study found that 72% of respondents were willing to open up about their financial goals and ambitions, and more than half were also happy to divulge their personal aims and objectives.

The real challenge thus lies, not in collecting data but in analyzing and leveraging them. EY recently reported that 85% of leading financial services firms believe data is their most valuable strategic asset, yet only 16% consider themselves “excellent” at extracting value from their data.

This translates into a weakened customer experience.

Switching banks has never been easier. It is therefore vital for them that Relationship Managers (RMs) start focusing on client-centric operating models to deliver a positive and seamless client experience, at every step of the relationship.

AI is not in the driver’s seat. It’s more like a co-pilot: it supports you, shows you the direction, but in the end, it comes down to your judgment. As a Relationship Manager, you need to focus on what is right for you client. AI will analyze the data for you, allow you to come up with tailored solutions and, most importantly, to dedicate your time to the person sitting in front of you.
Yannick Grecourt
EY Belgium Financial Services Consulting Leader, EY EMEIA Financial Services Digital Service Leader

Placing AI at the service of human relationships

This need for contacts and personalization clearly shows that AI technologies will not completely replace humans anytime soon. Technology is meant to be at the service of humans and not the other way around. With the help of AI – better understood as ‘Augmented Intelligence’ – RMs will be able to spend less time and energy on repetitive and administrative tasks, which will give them the time and energy to focus on more customer-oriented, creative occupations where human judgment adds value. To reap its benefits, banks need to embed AI at all stages of the customer relationship:

  • Prospection: In the first instance, AI can help build the business relationship by analyzing and understanding prospect profiles, in order to select the ones whose needs the bank can meet and to present them with tailormade marketing communications and adequate product suggestions.

  • Onboarding: AI can also enable ID verification through face-recognition technologies. It can also prefill questionnaires based on previously acquired data. This makes the virtual onboarding of new customers easy, quick and secure.

  • Ongoing interactions: By combining different technologies such as speech-to-text, natural language processing or computer vision, AI helps RMs conduct their meetings with customers more proactively and knowledgeably. During a video call, AI systems run hundreds of searches based on the customers’ mimics, words and expressed interests. All relevant information is then immediately summarized into a personalized dashboard. It allows the RM to react in real-time and to come up with relevant investment opportunities that match the customer’s values, interests and strategy. It can provide broader alternatives and support discussions that create value for the client.

  • Performance & reporting: AI can also prevent potential disputes related to unmet client expectations, which is a frequent issue in the investment sector. Clients’ expectations in terms of return on investments are often not aligned with the risks they are willing to take. By converting unstructured data (from official reports, social media, P&L, etc.) into tailor-made reader-friendly stories & educational reports, AI can help solve some clients’ lack of understanding, thereby bridging the expectation gap while reducing customer frustration at the same time. Providing this relevant and tailored information is another way AI can improve the customer experience.

How Artificial Intelligence and Emotional Intelligence intertwine

AI should be regarded as an important ally, facilitating financial firms’ endeavors to improve human interactions and enlarge the range of tailored services. However, we are only at the beginning of this revolution as AI is poised to play its biggest role yet. And none of that will be possible without the right soft skills to make it happen.

Indeed, AI is as much about technology as it is about change management. It should be viewed as a toolkit of evolving technologies building synergies in the long term. Selecting the right use cases that will bring the most value to current processes and issues is therefore crucial… But so is ensuring a strong and persuasive executive sponsorship that proves able to get everyone on board.

Emotional Intelligence will thus serve the implementation of Artificial Intelligence which, in turn, will give RMs more time to sharpen their soft skills, thereby giving a more appropriate response to client expectations.

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Artificial Intelligence will not replace Emotional Intelligence. It will strengthen it. AI is there to help Relationship Managers save some time and energy to focus on what matters most: their clients.

About this article

By Yannick Grecourt

EY Belgium Financial Services Consulting Leader, EY EMEIA Financial Services Digital Service Leader

Innovative leader. Passionate about understanding clients. Curious about new technology. Energized by team success. Married sailor with 2 daughters.