Category: Creating Future Value, Industry Trends, Technology

Are You Falling Behind in the Digital Age? What it Takes to Deliver Exceptional Customer Experiences


To remain relevant, firms must be attuned to their customers’ expectations, behaviors, and needs. They need to be in lockstep with the customer experience. But the customer experience is undergoing a radical transformation, largely driven by the digital and mobile age. Today’s digitally connected customer dictates the research and buying process with ever increasing expectations.

Asset managers who successfully develop a clearly defined, cohesive digital strategy― one that is integrated with their overall business strategy― will keep pace with their customers’ expectations, improve customer satisfaction, and ultimately drive their business forward.





The Headwinds You May Face

Investors’ expectations are dramatically increasing largely due to their interactions elsewhere. Think Amazon, Netflix, and Airbnb. As a result, today’s investors expect their online experiences to be fast, secure, and personalized. To say the bar has been set high for asset managers is an understatement.

Adding to the challenge is the “bleeding” of customers’ expectations. When it comes to interacting with your company online, customers only see one brand; however, their experiences of your brand cuts across multiple touch points within your firm. Experiences and influences elsewhere― outside your ecosystem, are also influencing and comingling with your investor’s expectations. With investors’ expectations continually evolving, it’s hard to keep pace.

Lastly, because of our heavily regulated industry, our online playing field is quite different than other industries. Regulatory constraints can impede the customer experience. Whether it’s the need for paper forms and medallion guarantees or additional documentation for certain requests, our highly-regulated industry can make it hard for investors to do business with us in the digital age.

What It Takes to Succeed

The customer experience spans a spectrum of touch points requiring you to view them holistically. Hence, your digital strategy must be part of your organization’s overall business strategy and not viewed as an afterthought or fringe business activity created in a vacuum. In many cases, the digital strategy is set first and then items such as print, e-mail, and other media outreach are based upon that lead strategy.

There also must be continuous investment in your digital strategy versus budgeting it as a one-time project or an activity with a finite life. Companies who budget for improvements annually will stay ahead of the curve and avoid chasing others in the industry.

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Related: Watch this video to learn what else makes for a winning website as Jackie Norbett, senior reporter for Ignites, interviews Brian at the ICI General Membership Meeting. Digital access to Ignites requires a subscription.

Where are the Opportunities?

As part of our E-Business engagement with clients, we see tremendous opportunity for asset managers to showcase their brand in the digital space. Not only does brand perception improve, but there are also many indirect revenue and expense implications. Here is what we see as the top five areas of opportunity for asset managers:

Online Bank Verification: Being able to complete anything online is a growing expectation among customers. With online bank verification, shareholders are able to link bank and mutual fund accounts together without the need to sign and mail forms. Firms would take a potentially arduous customer experience and make it fast and effortless.

User Preferences, Views, and Customization: Enabling customers to personalize their online experience is now the norm. Financial sites like Mint and Prosper allow customers to tailor their financial “picture” and receive customized savings tips. Some asset managers now allow their customers to “slice and dice” their portfolio view and highlight alternative savings options tailored to the customer’s preferences. Not providing customization capabilities presents investors with a noticeable imbalance of customer experience, which could lead to an unhappy customer experience.

Authentication: Enhancing login security and expanding authentication to other devices, shareholders gain an extra layer of security. For instance, a firm may have an online redemption limit of $100K/day; however, the shareholder attempts a higher redemption amount. This action triggers a text to the shareholder’s phone with an authorization code. More advanced authentication could also reduce or eliminate the 15-30 day hold periods, which typically occur when shareholders update their address.

Analytics: Using data to make intelligent automated marketing decisions about what to display and to who allows firms to cater to their customers’ individual needs.

Content Management Solutions: Enabling fund companies to control messaging, campaigns, and more from a web interface, rather than requiring technical resources.

Today’s investors expect a positive, seamless, consistent, personalized online experience with their financial services provider. For firms seeking to keep pace with their digitally connected customer, it can be challenging; however, there is real danger by moving in the wrong direction or not moving forward at all. Let our E-Business team of consultants, designers, and developers help you create exceptional customer experiences.

This article, co-authored by Andy Jordan, Vice President of Financial Services Product Strategy for DST Systems, Inc., was originally published in the 2016 Mutual Fund Service Guide and is reprinted with the permission of SourceMedia.


Brian Melter

Brian Melter

Brian joined Boston Financial in 2012 as the Managing Director for the E-Business Solutions Division. Brian helps to advance web, mobile, social media, and emerging technology-based solutions to foster innovation, cost-effective growth, and enhance client and advisor engagement. Brian has more than 21 years of experience in mutual fund technology, operations, marketing, and strategy. Prior to joining Boston Financial, Brian was with Wells Fargo Funds Management, where he led the Operations, Retail Marketing, and E-Business teams. Before Wells Fargo Funds Management, Brian led E-Commerce strategy, design, development, and online marketing for Strong Financial Corporation.

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