Where does the future of advice need to be digitized?

Accenture's head of wealth management assesses where the industry is going and the impact of COVID-19

Where does the future of advice need to be digitized?

Debating whether to digitize the back end or the front end of your business? Forget about it: you need to do both.

That’s the message from Gregory Smith, managing director and head of wealth management, Canada, Accenture, who believes the COVID-19 pandemic has only strengthened that argument.

Smith thinks the future of advice is a function of perspective added to client engagement to the power of relationships. Perspective means the insight, context and attitude that advisors provide in getting to the bottom of what solution is best for clients, while client engagement is about delivering through different channels to understand what is going on in their lives – be that a text, social media message, a phone call or a personal meeting. Smith continued: “The whole thing gets magnified and advanced if you have that true relationship, and that's where the trust is built, that's where you can demonstrate care, and that’s in a broad sense for the whole household, multiple generations.”

He added: “We think you need to get all of those things right, as an advisory firm or as an individual advisor. We see innovation, technology and digitization across all of those.”

The future of advice is about making the personal digitized – and that means having better tools, better data and being more in tune with what your client's needs are as they progress. “We think that's a very transformational area,” added Smith.

So, where should wealth manager implement all this new technology and automation, which, Smith added, could include areas like facial recognition in the future? The need to maintain all the three areas that encompasses the future of advice means it’s clear.

Smith explained: “Even before COVID there was a to-ing and fro-ing between those that wanted to apply digitization innovation at the front end - prospecting, marketing, content management, better outreach - and those that wanted to automate the back office and do things cheaper to redeploy capability and resources to the front end to grow the business.

“Should we apply a better kind of robo advice experience that's more intuitive, more multi-channel mobile first, or should it be the back end, which would make it cheaper, easier and get rid of all those people with their spreadsheets and pieces of paper. Well, what we're seeing now, and it's been exacerbated by COVID, is that it’s really got to be everything.

“There’s also got to be linkage from the front to the back, so the question now is how can I apply things across the board so that they're connected and feed one another?”