Why aren’t wealth managers seizing digital opportunities?

Wealth management products offered by banks are well behind the average financial services firm when it comes to digital sales readiness. In fact, our latest report into the state of digital sales in banking found that only 41 per cent of wealth management products are accessible for online application and fewer than one-in-four banking products can be applied for on mobile.

While this marks an improvement on last year, where our report showed only 24 per cent of wealth management products were available online, there is still a long way to go. Eighty-five per cent of financial customers drop out of an application process without completing it, with wealth management products particularly affected by “the abandonment problem”.

This is a serious concern for banks. Wealth management can be very profitable but valuable customers are lost in paper-based onboarding processes that take too long. And competitors are stepping in to pick up the pieces – especially in the non-bank space. With increased competition, institutions have no choice but to give customers more choice.

A golden opportunity

But the threat of competition isn’t the only reason that wealth managers should move their onboarding processes online. Two-thirds of adults today own a smartphone but wealth managers’ paper processes aren’t mobile-friendly – and customers can’t complete them on-the-go. By making the move to mobile, wealth managers have a golden opportunity to satisfy customers’ expectations for simple, frictionless transactions.

The opportunity isn’t limited to customer benefits. The longer a bank spends onboarding a customer, the less time it has to focus on business-critical issues like customer acquisition and revenue generation. By automating these processes, banks can not only improve them but also free up time and resources to grow the business.

So how do wealth managers seize the day and offer an effective digital onboarding process?

Don’t let your customers abandon ship

In short, keep it simple. People don’t like poring over complex jargon. Use simple language to explain clearly what you need from a client and why. When asking somebody to “please input your personal information”, aren’t you really saying “tell us about yourself”? So say it.

And remember that good digital onboarding processes are built with the user’s psychology in mind. Even seemingly innocuous details can be picked up by a user’s subconscious – so avoid the all-too-common mistake of overusing capital letters. You may think it gives a clear sense of urgency but it makes the user feel shouted at and harassed – meaning they won’t stick around for long.

Going further, think about where you place items on the page. Eye-tracking studies tell us how people look at websites, so design your onboarding process accordingly. Even seemingly minor changes, like placing labels above fields so they’re easier to read, soon add up into meaningful change.

Real-time strategy

Finally, make sure your digital onboarding process is able to adapt in real-time. In today’s fast-moving world you don’t need to wait until you’ve saved up stores of data to make major improvements to a process. Instead, you can make incremental changes to each step in the user journey.

Analyse metadata to see where people abandon. Or to see where potential customers get stuck for too long and where they use auto-fills. Use this feedback loop to look for trends and see if you can work out what’s happening and why.

Only once banks are armed with an accurate, granular picture of the user experience, can they truly fix the onboarding process – potentially improving completion rates by as much as 40 per cent. And that means two things above all – more customers and increased revenue.

Don Bergal is CMO at Avoka