Aingaran Pillai, CTO and Founder, Zaizi
Against a stark backdrop of substantially increased regulation and competition, the chorus of demand for smooth, fast and efficient customer service continues to grow louder and louder. Despite this, many financial organisations still find themselves riddled with document-heavy processes that slow decision making down. Embracing the right technology can streamline procedures and improve the flow of communication. This is vital for any business that hopes to meet modern customer demand for fast, quality service. Such capabilities are no longer a nice to have, but a must have.
‘Bespoke’, ‘Premier’, ‘Platinum’ – all sound good don’t they? As words they can be attached to almost anything to imply exclusivity and quality…a level of service or quality of goods not to be found elsewhere. And of course, these words abound in financial services when it comes to brand and product descriptions. In the world of wealth management, these words capture what clients demand. But while some players might have the right vocabulary, it’s the forward thinking, more disruptive business that are embracing new technology to walk the walk when it comes to ‘gold’ levels of service. And for them technology has enabled them to own a major point of differentiation.
For far too long, technology’s ability to underpin innovation in customer service has been obscured by high profile failures. ‘Computer says no’ has ruled the roost. Long, botched implementations have eroded confidence, and you can’t really keep your high net worth client on hold while you struggle to unfreeze and refresh the screen while trying to give them the latest low-down on their portfolio.
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However, some wealth managers are starting to wake up to the fact that technology shouldn’t be the preserve of the data scientist. They are realising that setting client data free so that knowledgeable, well-informed advisors can present information in real-time, at any time, in an accessible, digestible way is enabling ‘ambassador’ levels of customer service.
With the right systems in place, time-consuming paper based processes can be minimised and a clear flow of approvals maintained. Processes can be accelerated through improved through better storage, indexing management and faster retrieval of information. And the inevitable result is higher customer satisfaction down the line.
But it’s far from straightforward. Many wealth managers have fragmented working practices spread over different platforms installed across the business. Most tend to have scaled through acquisition, and so naturally start to ‘collect’ multiple, disparate systems that need to be managed together but have never been properly integrated. So bringing the data together to create a clear picture can be extremely complex, and all too often employees will fall back on work-arounds, which ultimately only serve to introduce risk, usually rely on spreadsheets and are often far from compliant.
Speaking of compliance, IT infrastructure is now squarely in the FCA’s crosshairs. And the regulatory landscape is like quick sand. One wrong move and suddenly you can be fighting for your life. How data is accessed, secured and captured has never been more important. So if the business processes aren’t right and the technology isn’t in place to capture and manage data accurately and frequently, it’s not only poor customer service that will end up eroding client confidence. The Regulator might get there first.
Increased regulation has also itself, of course, brought with it more paperwork. This in turn increases the chance of losing documents, and (ironically) can actually amplify risk. Audit trails, versioning and archiving have never been so critical to business hygiene. Document loss wastes precious resources and it can take months to figure out the consequences (or that the problem even exists). Embracing digital technology is the best bet for reducing the number of difficult-to-control-and-track paper-based documents, thus reducing this risk factor and so simplifying the challenge.
Indeed, many of the big service and compliance challenges that wealth managers are being forced to face in today’s environment…“how do create a compelling client experience?”, “How can we empower our staff?” and “how do we control risk?”…all can be addressed to some extent through investment in content management.
Todays sophisticated content management systems aren’t the two trick scanning and electronic storage ponies of the past. Instead they are truly transformative, highly intelligent systems that are constantly learning and making recommendations to optimise the way individuals work, all while keeping data safe and processes compliant. And for wealth mangers this means getting more from existing systems: employees can understand and connect data from across the enterprise, gaining visibility over vast quantities of documents, files and folders. They can personalise their IT experience, work remotely via mobile devices, collaborate across departments – the benefits are legion.