Taking a Client-Centric Approach: Balancing Tech and Human Interaction

Author: Sarah Mawji |  July 11, 2022

Where do we draw the line? Technology is proving to be the promising value add it was hyped up to be, but how much human interaction should it replace?

In-person interaction no longer serves as the primary touch point in the client-advisor relationship. Historically, advisors would meet with their clients, follow up via email, schedule a phone call and maintain interaction through newsletter blasts. Maybe through LinkedIn?

Today the cadence has flipped. Email, phone calls, and all-things tech serve as primary touchpoints.

Technology Should Augment, Not Replace

Meetings events, and customary paperwork all have virtual equivalents. If these virtual formats are used, no one complains but do clients truly enjoy these forms of interaction?

If you find yourself meeting with clients in person less and you feel face-to-face not only helps strengthen the relationship but is a better format for clients to share concerns, goals and discuss finances more openly and authentically, it may be time to re-evaluate your client methodology.

Taking a balanced approach which is a unique combination of tech and human interaction serves as the most optimal mode of communication.

Client Cadence and Interaction Methodology
Just like advisors had to adapt during the pandemic, so too did clients. This may mean some of your clients do not want to be inconvenienced by a trip to your downtown office or have you visiting their home. If that’s the case, ensure you are catering to the needs of your clients and not pressing in-person meetings on them. Doing this may make them feel like you have a hidden agenda or are wanting to take control of the relationship, instead of making it feel like one that is a ‘two-way street.’

On the other hand, do not assume that just because your clients have been comfortable with virtual meetings they would not prefer to meet in person.

Here are a few tactics you can use to gauge interest:

Formally announce a new client meeting cadence
This is an on offering, not a requirement. Send an email blast to clients offering a quarterly or monthly meeting in person that can be scheduled to discuss finances. Leave it up to them to schedule and let them know if they wish for interaction to remain as is, that works too!

By now advisors have a good sense of their clients. Some require more frequent discussions while others prefer a brief email or text message every now and then. Feel free to pick and choose who you offer in-person meetings to based on their interaction levels. If a client happens to request in-person meetings and you didn’t expect it, that’s great too!

For HWNI-portfolios you may be managing, do make it a top priority to understand their communication preferences. Always go above and beyond to ensure they feel like they are being taken care of in a way that feels right to them.

Send out a mid-year or year-end comment card or survey
If you are not doing this already, short and easy surveys are a great way to get a sense of how your clients are feeling. Though you may talk to your clients often, nothing allows them to openly express their thoughts more than an anonymous survey.

While sometimes harsh, the truth will help to refine, change or remove practices that just aren’t a fit.

Lastly, let’s not forget about the infamous Gen Z!

Demographic changes are having a huge impact on client composition and we can expect clientele bases to be significantly different in the next few years. The growing prevalence of Millenials and Generation Z individuals who are ready to manage their wealth have varying preferences from their predecessors. Catering to their needs and preferences will be an integral role of the wealth services formula as we head into the future.

Overall, cutting-edge technology is a great way to enhance the customer experience but at the end of the day, when your client is concerned or frustrated, face-to-face is undoubtedly the way to go.

“Wealth Management is a relationship-based industry, where face-to-face interaction carries a premium. While technology is a great enabler, a business will always remain human!” – Mark Pinto