Speaking to the owner of a boutique Sydney wealth management company recently I asked him what his greatest challenge was for the business. His response “engaging with my clients’ children”. Until recently I didn’t appreciate the colossal transfer of wealth that will occur in Australia over the next 15 years ($400b according to a 2010 Bankwest report). This owner-operator, like many wealth management firms, had built his company on reputation and relationships. The right school, the right network, combined with a proven track record. But why should his $10m dollar net-worth clients children choose to invest their inheritance with him instead of the private wealth division of the bank they have used since their first pocket money deposit?
Mobile as a channel not only provides an opportunity to engage with this next generation, but reengage with time poor executives that are bombarded with ‘weekly newsletters’. A recent Google “Our Mobile Planet: Australia” survey showed that 83% of people use their smartphones to communicate (emails/networking sites) and 49% to stay informed (read newspapers, information portals). Interestingly, 22% of interviewees were 45+ years old.
The early movers are already using mobile devices to assist advisors to engage with prospective clients. Philadelphia-based Brinker Capital launched it’s Absolute Return Mixer in April 2012, a well-designed and simple app tool that assists advisors to shape the conversation with new clients. It is also a way of hooking in new clients, by forcing them to register through their website if they want to see their AR Mixer results. San Francisco-based Personal Capital, a new venture by former PayPal CEO Bill Harris, has taken a different approach launching a highly transactional app that blurs the lines between tradition banking apps (think: expense tracking, fund transfers) with wealth management bread and butter (think: market insights, portfolio tracking). The strategy; a large number of consumers who download the Personal Capital app for expense tracking, fund transfers, mum/dad-type investing will then turn to one of their financial advisor when their wealth grows and expertise/management assistance is sought.
Closer to home, the insurance and banking industries have embraced this trend. MLC, St George, TAL are examples of significant industry players that have all launched internally focused apps to assist their salesforce in the field. After all, do you think your client is more likely to notice a push notification providing market insight while in a taxi checking their portfolio balance from your app or pick out an email newsletter amongst the other 300 sitting in their inbox?