ABA Banking Journal - September/October 2017 - 62
>>> WEALTH MANAGEMENT
'You Have to Be Bionic'
Wealth management today should be more Six Million
Dollar Man and less The Terminator.
BY BRIAN NIXON
ealth management, like
other sectors of the banking
industry, is confronting a
major question: What exactly
is the right blend of human
and digital resources to bring to bear in
best serving clients?
Should wealth management services
be purely digital? Adviser-assisted?
Traditional? The answers may vary, but
most experts seem to agree that the best
strategic response may be a blend of
both human- and robo-assisted services.
"You have to be bionic," says David
Canter, an EVP at Fidelity Investments.
"The technology is an enabler."
"The answer is somewhere in between,"
says Blake Wood, SVP and director of
program innovation for Envestnet. "It's
how customers want to engage."
"Technology is a challenge and an
opportunity," says Barry Dayley, EVP at
Money Concepts International. "Some of
the things that we have access to are so
cool. The things you can do for a client
are amazing." Dayley's firm is endorsed
by ABA for the wealth management and
financial planning services it provides
to the banking community. The firm's
turnkey business model provides banks
ownership of a wealth management
business, independent and nonproprietary products, an integrated
technology platform, and staff training
Within that service milieu, wealth
management digital services, such as
ABA BANKING JOURNAL | SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2017
robo-advisers, do have a place. "That
may be a customer's best approach,"
says Dayley. Still, he notes, "when
people reach a certain point-possibly
$150,000 to $200,000-they want to
talk with a live person."
Envestnet's Wood suggests that age
is also a factor when it comes to
wealth management clients and digital
technologies and services. "A client is
going to age out of a digital solution,"
In any case, the biggest threat is the
status quo. That's the assessment
of Mitch St. Peter, senior business
development officer for FutureAdvisor,
a BlackRock company. "Do you have
senior leadership to drive new business
processes?," he asks. "How committed
are you to this business and changing
how you do business?"
Fidelity's Canter suggests that overall
fee compression in financial markets is
a leading indicator of the coming digital
disruption. "The canary, perhaps, is in
the coal mine," he says. "If you want to
defend fees, you've got to supply more
value. Automated investment is going to
be a table stake."
Even further, Canter believes that the
entire wealth management landscape
is evolving. "We might be moving
beyond wealth management to total
life management," he says. And with
that, wealth managers will be using
digital tools and resources to perform
"deep, deep discovery" to better serve
Done properly, technology such as
data aggregation tools can help build
a closer relationship between wealth
managers and their clients. "All of this
drives collaboration and engagement,"
says Wood. Clients should be able to
see everything, and to learn things
from their wealth management advisers
at a distance through co-browsing
A key point is to know your customers
and to be able to easily identify their
needs both now and in the future.
"We've found that by approaching the
marketplace with a holistic view, we tend
to help the client make better long-term
decisions," says Dayley. "We're not really
focusing on trying to sell a product to
them. Our focus is on trying to figure out
where they are and where they want to
be, and then help select programs or
products that might be suitable for what
they need. That's our approach."
From the human standpoint, a
community bank's wealth manager
starts out from a position of strength.
"We find that at community banks the
wealth manager is going to know more
about customers than any other person
in the institution," Dayley adds. "Hopes,
dreams, fears and things no one else
may know. These are powerful tools for
serving the customer and developing a
In fact, wealth management doesn't
always mean working with wealthy
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