They’re Not Investors, They’re Consumers
You’ve heard it before, but I will say it again. Millennials are different. They demand new ways of consuming your products and services, interacting with your brand, and expect a seamless experience across all channels. Even if you agree with me, you may still be saying to yourself, “Millennials don’t have much money to invest right now, and we’re in the business of managing money, so our main concern is supporting our current investors.”
It’s that term, “investor”, which we use too heavily in the industry though. It may seem innocuous, but it’s quite telling and misleading. Your prospective clients (including millennials) aren’t simply investors anymore, they are consumers. And as consumers, they have a broad array of experiences which are increasingly affecting their perspectives, attitudes, and expectations across all types of products and services. As such, asset and wealth managers are no longer competing only with firms in their own space. Instead, they share clients with a wide variety of firms, many of which are fundamentally altering how their clients view their firm.
Uber has demonstrated that transparency relieves anxiety for consumers. As a consumer watches the car driving towards them on their screen, they’re confident that they won’t miss their next appointment. Being able to clearly see progress gives them relief.
But when they transfer assets from one firm to another, no such confidence exists. They are completely in the dark about whether the assets have been liquidated at the delivering firm, distributed to the receiving firm, or have been invested properly.
Amazon’s suggestions based on what other “people like them” are purchasing has given consumer’s confidence. They trust that Amazon knows their behaviors well enough to align their preferences with people in similar circumstances and with the same tastes.
The same holds true in asset and wealth management. When a client sets an asset allocation strategy they likely feel unsure if it’s appropriate for them. What would be comforting though, is the knowledge that people who are at a similar stage of life, share a similar philosophy about money, and have similar goals, also have a similar asset allocation strategy. By bringing in the aspect of ‘belonging’ to your firm’s experience, you can help clients feel more confident in their strategy.
Spotify knows their users. Their customers expect that the more time they spend with their service, the more they can expect the firm to anticipate and predict what may be valuable to them.
Much of the asset and wealth management advice rendered today is rooted in the risk/return profile of clients…something that likely doesn’t change from the original measurement. But as our clients lives unfold, it’s highly likely that their perspectives and needs evolve too. And if we’re really keeping track of that evolution, we should be able to anticipate their needs, even before they realize that they’ve changed.
As the industry continues to shift from managing money to providing advice as its core value proposition, it will be faced with the expectations that firms like eHarmony, WebMD, and Angie’s List have established too. And what these firms have taught our customers is that good advice comes from intimacy. Knowing people really well means understanding their mental models, communication norms, relationship dynamics, goals, history, and value systems.
While it’s still important to understand someone’s risk/return profile, we’ll need to start to understand them in a much broader sense…as consumers.