Even as we continue to find our way back to some standard of post-pandemic normalcy, one thing that we strongly believe is remote collaboration will continue to be increasingly important in the financial advice space. On June 7th, SigFig hosted a webinar event featuring Mike Sha, CEO and Co-Founder at SigFig, Jeff Weiner, CEO and Head of Investments at Santander Securities, and Will Trout, Director of Wealth Management at Javelin Strategy & Research where they discussed how financial institutions must keep customer centricity at the forefront of their digital transformations.
Over the course of “Transforming the Future of Remote Collaboration for Financial Advice,” we explored discussions about how interactive and immersive screen-centric experiences contribute to better needs discovery and advice for the consumer. Our CEO, Mike Sha, likes to approach these discussions with what he’s coined as “The Grand Inversion,” a digital-first engagement lens that is properly supported by the right human-to-human support and assistance. Read on to learn the top 3 takeaways from this virtual event.
1. The ongoing evolution of customer expectations
Over the last 2-3 years, as we've all experienced disruption in in-person interactions, there are many opportunities for new ways to engage with clients. With that said, these new methods of engagement and interaction are going to lead to new and different customer expectations as to how they want to do business with you.
“It [new methods of engagement] has really profound implications on the way we deliver our services to our customers,” said Sha, “and we think it really unlocks new and exciting business model transformations. It impacts the firm, impacts the client, impacts the advisor – and the good news is, I think it’s actually, in all three cases, in good ways!”
SigFig identified this trend a couple years ago, and really started to double down on research and development in this area, focusing research on understanding what consumer and advisor attitudes are. To no surprise at all, we have seen that consumers and advisors are both interested in efficiency, technological capability and convenience.
Whether they're financial advisors, mortgage loan officers, small business bankers or retail bankers, or commercial bankers, these professionals offer a host of really valuable insights. They do a lot for their clients. But, with technology, they can do even more.
2. Changes in advice delivery across financial services and how organizations are embracing the digital-first shift
As an industry, we’ve been very product centric. If you think about the way we build our businesses, the way we operate our firms and the way we structure our organizations, it’s almost always built around different product lines – deposits, lending, investing, home, lending, mortgage, etc. However, as the way advice is delivered transforms, so will the needs of your customers.
“In fact, we have to think about the relationship with our customers from their lens, and they don't think about the world from the lens of products. They think about the world from the lens of their needs,” said Sha. “And when you approach the customer around their needs, it's a real opportunity to give advice and actually be a provider that helps clients achieve their actual goals and their outcomes.”
As financial institutions plan strategically around where they want to go as both a bank, as well as an investment division, the crux of their decisions need to be driven by what their clients tell them, what their clients want, and what their behaviors are.
“One of the things that sort of was central to our strategic direction is clients are telling us they want advice, but they want it where they want, when they want, and how they want it,” said Jeff Weiner, CEO and Head of Investments at Santander Securities.
Now’s the time to empower advisors to advise clients from anywhere, making it easy and convenient. Clients don’t necessarily want to walk into a branch to learn or gain access to what’s happening in the market. They want to, at the click of a button, get in touch with somebody who can give them an assessment of what might be going on and provide advice.
Back in the 2000’s, when institutions started to adopt digital advice, there was a lot of friction around technology and ownership of it, especially in the banking environment. However, as institutions lean into more needs discovery and strategic alignment with clients expectations, technology has become more of a requirement for success. With this change has come a focus on financial planning and hybrid advice. Will Trout, Director of Wealth Management at Javelin Strategy & Research, defined this hybrid approach to financial planning as a sort of “financial wellness” approach:
“Financial wellness symbolizes that collaboration between the banking side of the business and the investments business, whereby you're actually charting the entire client journey right across the organization from first paycheck, ultimately, to even things like estate planning and using signals or business intelligence and money, movement, or automation, to make sure that client assets are positioned to serve the client at any point in time,” said Trout.
3. Ways SigFig is enabling firms to achieve innovative transformation
It’s so easy to think of digital and remote as humanless. But it's actually a more rich and natural way to insert humans into that interaction. SigFig is seeing small business, commercial banking, mortgage and home lending, retail and premiere banking – whole financial institutions, from top to bottom – shift to digital-first, and each application should strive to achieve the same richness of collaboration and customer-closeness as in-person advising.
“One of the things that I knew early on was that this [shift to digital-first customer experiences] was not going to be something that we were going to try to build internally, and that we were going to go out and choose the best of the best, which is why we chose SigFig. We did a deep dive on several of the potential providers and needed not only a firm with great technology, but a firm with a great vision," said Weiner.
Weiner went on to explain that from the beginning, they’ve dedicated sales leaders to the project of implementing SigFig’s technology the right way for Santander. It’s important to keep compliance, risk and legal at the table, as well as operations and sales. The sales team is driving the technology usage, and then other stakeholder teams are falling in line to further integrate the technology into their processes.
“We have made it very well known that our digital strategy is around, obviously, making it convenient and great for the client, but it's really about enabling the advisor to help the clients more. It [convenience and advising] is the cornerstone of our technology,” said Weiner.
Click here for the full recording of ‘Transforming The Future of Remote Collaboration for Financial Advice’ and learn more about how financial institutions are keeping customer centricity at the forefront of their digital transformations.
See disclosures at https://sigfig.com. All content presented herein and discussed in any referenced or linked materials is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide any tax or legal advice or the basis for any financial decisions. Information presented is believed to be from reliable sources, but we make no representations as to its accuracy or completeness. Opinions expressed (including any endorsements) are those of the individuals presenting them, including individuals associated with other companies, and not necessarily of Nvest, Inc. or SigFig Wealth Management, LLC.