COVID 19 has hit the worldwide economy like a storm and it has had far-reaching implications on every industry. The Wealth Management industry has taken a major hit in the face of massive uncertainty, panic and negative market sentiment.
Wealth management firms face three major challenges in the COVID 19 landscape.
- High Market Volatility
- Increased Operational Risk
- Increased Reliance on Digital Channels
Let’s look at how firms can better help their clients in these times of crisis and build trust when it is at an all-time low.
Adopt Digital Tools to Retain Trust and Transparency in the Face of Volatility :
The market sentiment right now is overwhelmingly bearish. Asian markets have seen a 15 -25% dip. India was not spared the carnage as the Sensex and Nifty hit three-year lows closing at 28,896 and 8,468 points respectively. The biggest challenge right now is to keep the trust of investors in the market and prevent panic selling. Digitally enabled firms are in better shape to keep the trust of their investors especially those with customer-facing apps and portals that help increase transparency. Wealth Management firms will need to adopt technology like Wealth Management platforms to adapt to the speed of the market and act quickly. Quick adoption of digital tools is of the essence as physical meeting and paperwork have come to a grinding halt.
Adopt Platforms that Help reduce Operational Risk:
Firms are expected to have business continuity plans in place to be able to shift employees to working remotely and have centralized access to data when requested by clients. They are also expected to provide for the eventuality if key personnel fall ill or need to be quarantined. Relationship managers should be able to address client needs wherever they are working from and digital wealth management platforms help them do just that. If clients are successfully digitally onboarded and all portfolio data is available at one click then RMs who step in as replacements can quickly get a picture of finances and offer the right advice. In the absence of portfolio data being available digitally, collating all the necessary data becomes a nightmare, especially without a detailed handover by the existing Relationship managers.
Switch Entire Customer Service onto Digital Channels:
Countries across the globe have entered into a lockdown. Government bodies have enforced social distancing to flatten the curve of the pandemic. In such a scenario where physical meetings have been banned, Wealth Management firms will find it increasingly difficult to acquire new customers or event retain existing ones. There is a need for regular engagement with clients to ensure that they do not panic. RMs need to switch to digital channels such as video calling or messaging to keep their clients in the loop. In such a scenario a shared platform or dashboard that can help offer an eagle eye view to both clients and RMs is extremely important. WM firms that have adopted Digital Platforms are able to continue services as RMs are equipped to serve clients efficiently even without the face time.
Upskill RMs to Deal with the Changes:
Relationship managers can no longer afford to be unsavvy about digital mediums. They need to be able to operate and act on Digital platforms on behalf of their investors. They must have a 360-degree view of portfolios to act quickly and mitigate risk. Wealth management firms must fastrack their training programs and teach their RMs to use the portfolio management tools available at their disposal.
Ensure Client data is not Compromised:
In a scenario when everyone is being asked to work from home, client security, especially in sensitive industries such as Wealth Management, becomes an issue. Employees need to be trained in best practices to ensure that client data is protected. The IT departments of Wealth Management firms need to ensure that people are sensitized to cybersecurity risks and provide the necessary tools and infrastructure necessary to ensure that data is not breached and is purely on a need to know basis. Collating information on a centralized server and restricting downloads of sensitive data onto personal systems is necessary to prevent untoward incidents in the long run.
Promote Digital Wealth Management or Roboadvisory:
In the increasingly uncertain scenario, Wealth Management firms are advised to transition in branch operations and sales to Digital platforms. The offerings that require minimal to little human or face to face interaction must be promoted at this time. Robo-advisory or AI-enabled wealth management is all set to boom as Wealth Management firms will suffer a crisis of talent and productivity at this difficult time. The more clients that can be offloaded to entirely digital offerings, the better they can be serviced even with limited staff and resources.