How well does your wealth manager invest your time?

Take a moment and think about something you can never have enough of and yet often take for granted.

For most of us, time has become our scarcest and most valued resource. Smart phones, email and other forms of technology have made our lives much easier – but they have also created an enormous tax on our time. We have become suffocated by the constant influx of information, distracting our attention and impacting our ability to focus deeply on our most important issues.

Entrepreneurs will continue to invent new products and services, but it’s unlikely we will ever be able to invent more than 24 hours in a day. As more things compete for our attention, we are ascribing a higher value to our time than ever before. Wealth managers and other service providers must pay close attention to this trend and embrace this new reality. With it comes the opportunity to improve the customer experience and create true differentiation. Being a “trusted advisor” is no longer enough. Financial advisors must evolve to maximize the “value created/ time invested” ratio. We all expect that our money should work hard for us. We should equally expect a good return on the time we invest in our communications and interactions.

This is a unique moment in the financial services industry, and one that challenges companies to reimagine their value proposition and the client experience they deliver. The firms that will compete and succeed in this changing landscape must ensure that their platforms are flexible and customizable; the advice and solutions they deliver are tailored based on client data; and they maximize each client engagement by delivering new sources of value.

Learn from Apple

Challenging a wealth manager or any firm to aspire to “Apple-like” innovation may sound daunting, but let’s look at the example of the iPhone. The wonder of the iPhone isn’t really about drastic hardware innovation. The true power is in how this device created an entirely new client experience by thoughtfully combining existing services – cell phone, camera, web browser, map – all in one easy-to-use, elegantly designed device. The delivery of these services in a single, centralized ecosystem empowers users to accomplish dramatically more than any other cell phone had ever offered. When the iPhone debuted, you were likely less impressed by the high-quality sound of the voice on the other end of the line than you were by the awesome power you now held in the palm of your hand.

Even more valuable than the iPhone’s efficiency is the ability for users to create a uniquely customized experience. The iPhone combines high-quality standard services with the ability to choose the apps that are most relevant and valuable to us. The iPhone took what was a preordained, inflexible design and then acted as a partner to deliver something we didn’t even know we could have asked for – a unique and personalized experience. Mobile device consumers had never before been provided this level of extensive empowerment.

The financial services industry must also think boldly about the ways it can deliver a more meaningful, comprehensive and engaging user experience. Consumer expectations demand it. Firms will either evolve to help empower clients with the flexibility to pursue their desired outcomes, or they will lose market share to a superior, client-centric model. Wealth platforms must place clients at the center of a tailored user experience and empower them to maximize the value they receive from the time spent there.

Use data more effectively

The volume of content we receive on a daily basis via email, social media and other channels is overwhelming. These indiscriminate waves of information bombard us, while only delivering a small fraction of material that is of true value.

Instead, financial service providers should aim to create intelligently designed systems that use data to deliver only the insights most relevant to our interests and the solutions we seek. This is beginning to happen in some industries. Given the large and valuable data sources and networks available to financial services firms, a unique opportunity exists to tailor client engagements. Technology companies, with relatively inferior quality data sources, have created enormous value for their users. Financial services firms sit on an even greater opportunity.

Intelligently designed interfaces will allow firms to better understand their clients’ needs, preferences and ambitions. By effectively employing data, wealth advisors can deliver the right content and advice at the right time. Financial institutions can better harness their proprietary data or data available to them to cut through the clutter and ensure clients receive the information and solutions they need in the most efficient manner possible.

Identify new sources of value

A meaningful advisor relationship is one that is solutions focused and advice driven. A solutions-based approach will lead to the delivery of appropriate products. Historically, many firms have approached relationships with a product-first mentality. In reality, it’s unlikely that anyone has ever woken up in the morning and said, “I wish someone would sell me an investment product today.” People wake up thinking about their goals, challenges, legacy, friends and family. They hope and dream about specific outcomes – not specific investment vehicles. As such, an astute advisor works to understand the emotional factors that underlie an individual’s relationship with wealth: the passion that fueled their success and wealth creation, their dreams for themselves and their families, their sense of responsibility to the community, and the legacy they hope to leave. Essentially, their “why” of wealth.

Creating a revolutionary client experience begins with placing the client’s best interests at the center of the business model, and then constantly advising and empowering them on their journey to achieving their most desired goals. Financial advisors are uniquely positioned to access resources and networks to provide insights, connectivity and investment opportunities. Firms need to think beyond an investment portfolio or balance sheet, and consider how their valuable networks, platforms and resources can help clients efficiently and effectively reach their goals – financial and beyond. Firms must look past their core services and identify new ways to help clients achieve their ambitions, dramatically increasing the value of the time clients invest with their firm.

There are undoubtedly many fierce battles that will be fought as the financial services industry continues to evolve its value proposition. The most important battlefield will be the reimagination of the client experience to enhance a client’s life across multiple dimensions. The firm that uses the client’s time most intelligently will create a powerful and sustainable advantage. Financial advisors must invest clients’ time at least as wisely as they endeavor to invest their financial assets.

Anthony DeChellis

Anthony DeChellis is the Chief Executive Officer of SVB Private. He served as the CEO and President of Boston Private and President and a member of the Boston Private Board of Directors for 2 years prior to the close of SVB Financial Group’s acquisition of the firm in 2021.

The views expressed in the article are those of the author and/or person interviewed and do not necessarily reflect the views of SVB Private or other members of Silicon Valley Bank and SVB Financial Group. The materials on this website are for informational purposes only, are subject to change and do not take into account your particular investment objective, financial situation or need. Since each client’s situation is unique, you should consult your financial advisor and/or tax planning professional before acting on any information provided herein