OPINION: Digital transformation in financial services – the three steps to success

Winnie Palmer

By Winnie Palmer, EMEA Head of Marketing, Seismic

Since the turn of the century, the financial services (FS) industry has undergone a great deal of change. For example, products and services have been vastly revamped as firms have embraced digital innovation. On the other hand, it is widely recognised that traditional lenders and money managers today command only a proportion of the spread they once had, ultimately putting considerable pressure on FS firms’ revenue streams.

Compounding the issue is the fact that client behaviours have also evolved, Major consumer brands like Amazon and Netflix have set the standard for personalisation, with this trend bleeding into other industries including financial services. As a result, FS firms are now having to respond to clients’ demands for highly personalised experiences, while incorporating new digital channels such as social media into their operations.

FS firms have reacted to the market’s evolution by investing further into digital products and systems that can help create more revenue-generating opportunities. The irony is that this heightened focus on digital has led to an explosion of digital content. Clients now need to forage through an abundance of competing information, making the delivery of meaningful and differentiated client experiences more difficult – and salient – than ever.

Amidst this digital revolution, it’s no surprise that clients are moving away from in-person interactions. In fact, two-thirds of buyers now prefer remote interactions and digital self-service through the buying cycle. So, with FS firms battling to reach and capture the attention of existing and prospective clients, how are the best performers cutting through the noise?

Enabling advisors

One crucial factor of successful digital transformation projects that can often be overlooked is fostering a culture of continuous learning and development. Enabled by digital tools and cloud-based platforms, FS firms can support advisors with coaching and training that is readily available whenever and wherever they need it. This allows FS firms to replicate their organisation’s top performers, institutionalise knowledge and differentiate themselves from the competition.

With access to in-the-moment, data informed recommendations and insights, financial advisors and money managers will be empowered to craft and deliver more impactful content that clients will connect with and savour. Taking this approach can also help less experienced FS professionals’ boost their learning speed and knowledge retention.

This coaching could include delivering interactive lessons embedded with practise sessions and playbooks that have been proven effective in the real world. What’s more, training programmes can be tailored to specific advisers, helping them to deliver more engaging and insightful content and experiences. The key is to leverage granular performance data that provides timely insights and recommendations, guiding advisors’ actions at different stages of the sales cycle as part of a dynamic skill development framework.

Facing the competitiveness of today’s FS market, firms must give their advisors the best chance of standing out. This can be achieved by building a culture focused on continuous learning that is backed by real data and real-world sales scenarios.

Scaling operational efficiency

Automation is a crucial component of any significant digital transformation project. Within the highly regulated FS sector, automation also has a key role to play in helping FS firms minimise compliance risks. Technology enables systemic governance both at a companywide and an individual level – all while reducing costs and increasing advisors’ productivity.

By centralising key data and compliance processes, advisors can quickly modify any information based on materials dynamically served from a single source of truth without impacting compliance in order to accelerate the approvals process. Integrating systems across sales, content and CRM tools will further improve the user experience, ultimately helping financial advisors be more productive and focused on revenue-driving activities.

AI technology can take this a step further. By using AI to analyse large datasets that would be near impossible to do manually, FS firms can identify patterns, behaviours and even new revenue opportunities. FS firms can leverage the insights uncovered by AI based on the data collected from previous interactions to improve the effectiveness of each piece of content that advisors share with clients. As a result, sellers will gain visibility into content performance and therefore be able to make more informed decisions at each stage of the sales cycle.

The digital client experience

FS client pools are increasingly being dominated by younger and more tech savvy generations. These millennial and gen Z clients are demanding personal and dynamic experiences, as well as interactions on digital platforms of their choice. Advisors and money managers must therefore communicate and interact with these clients in modern ways.

Content engagement data can be the secret weapon for FS firms, letting them determine exactly how, when and where customers are interacting with pieces of content. It enables FS professionals to provide a more agile and responsive experience that lets them tailor each interaction to the specific individual – whether they want it through e-mail, digital sales rooms, social media, or in-person meetings.

These key data insights and recommendations help financial advisors build meaningful relationships by delivering relevant and timely content in digital environments. They will also allow FS firms as a whole to engage FS clients more effectively – showing that they understand clients’ unique needs and situation – and put themselves ahead of the competition.

Over the years to come, building trusted relationships with these younger generations of FS clients will be invaluable as they inherit wealth from their parents and forge their own future. In today’s digital marketplace, FS firms need to empower their teams to hit the right content notes with clients, while staying in tune with the channels they want to interact through without impacting compliance. This can only be achieved by tapping into data insights and cloud-based technologies as part of a three-pronged approach to digital transformation – driven by a focus on continuous learning, enhanced operations and personalised experiences.

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