The tools that are improving client engagement and satisfaction
Fund Operator speaks to Cheryl Pipia, Head of USI Integrated Sales & Client Engagement, T. Rowe Price about how technology can make customers feel connected to investment strategies, make doing business easier and make products feel customised
Fund Operator Editor POSTED ON 1/7/2020 9:54:49 AM
Fund Operator: What are some the challenges that fund managers are facing today when it comes to client relations and customer service?
Cheryl Pipia: Fund managers are crossing over a wide range of audiences, with everything from home office, gatekeepers to advisors, and end clients.
Combining consultative selling and custom requirements means the need for people to feel connected to investment strategies, and have transparency and insights into portfolios and specific holdings.
"We need transparency into all of the vehicles, and to articulate any rationale for dispersions or similarities across the product lines"
It also means the increased desire for speed to the market and a sense of proactive engagement.
Coupled with the fund managers today, it is progressively about the number of vehicles that are being offered. We need transparency into all of the vehicles, and to articulate any rationale for dispersions or similarities across the product lines.
FO: What role is technology playing in addressing these challenges?
Cheryl: From an advisor’s perspective, they spend roughly 40% of their time thinking about mutual funds, 30% about retail SMAs, and the remainder in ETFs and other vehicles.
Having a robust technology with the ability to see real-time insights as you engage with clients is critical. These data feeds can be pulled through using a CRM or technologies like Tableau, which provide dashboards that enable you to really drill deep into the information on hand.
"Having a robust technology with the ability to see real-time insights as you engage with clients is critical"
As you partner with outside providers for middle and back offices activities, it is essential to have the right type of connectivity that provides you with relevant stats, such as Assets under Management (AuM), Assets under Advisory (AUA), etc.
On the consultative selling side, technology plays a role in providing key insights into how people are making decisions. The IQ is combined with their EQ, so that you can identify patterns, such as their buying behavior. Coming up with personas from a digital strategy standpoint are very important today.
FO: Is technology in this space going the route of specialized tech, such as artificial intelligence and robotics?
Cheryl: We are seeing robotics play a role from an operational standpoint, which is definitely having a positive impact on the ease of doing business.
One of the biggest trends we are seeing is the need for both the AI and human elements. While these are both critical, how you balance them is key.
"Robotics is definitely having a positive impact on the ease of doing business"
AI helps us to identify behaviors and what people are interested in - how we measure our insights, thought leadership, and marketing capabilities all feed into our digital strategy.
Once the digital strategy is implemented, it then becomes all about how you warm the leads that have been provided and nurture those relationships into something that a human is then touching.
FO: What has been the general feedback from clients with the implementation of this technology? Is it measurable in the form of client retention or increases in client base?
Cheryl: Technology is constantly evolving.
We have seen demonstrated success in how we go about doing our planning. We use technology to analyze data and inform how we target segmentation. It has provided us with a clear focus for how we go into the marketplace.
Being at a firm like T. Rowe Price with a sizeable market share, the amount of work that goes into retaining our assets, both from a home office and field perspective, is substantial.
"We use technology to analyze data and inform how we target segmentation"
An area of focus that we would continue to pursue include how to use technology to provide clients with the experience of a face-to-face meeting with a portfolio manager.
We could also take standardized presentation decks (from an investment and compliance standpoint) and provide a customized feel for a specific audience.
FO: How do you envisage client relationship management changing over the coming years in the industry?
Cheryl: For most fund managers, I believe it’s the transparency that people want into your buy/sell rationales, insight commentary, and investment holdings.
It’s also about how you balance your secret sauce from everything that gets said, into the marketplace, quickly.
Clients asking for a push-through of reports, or the timeliness of information, is something that we spend time thinking about. It’s all about finding the right balance and how much information is the right amount.
You normally rate yourself based on your proactive engagement rate, or speed when it is reactive, your ease of doing business, etc. And when you look at all of these components, especially from a retention aspect, you need to consider what tools are available to help guide you through this process.
Different types of workflow technologies are something that we have been exploring and starting to implement. It’s huge when you can get a speed to market through your opportunity pipeline at a faster rate.
The second component is in your selling system and your materials: what you use, when, and how you use technology.
"Clients asking for a push-through of reports, or the timeliness of information, is something that we spend time thinking about"
Another challenge is how you touch the regions where you don’t have a physical presence, but which are still meaningful. For example, is this where you use video, web seminars, etc.?
When you bucket this together, the question becomes about how to increase your audience base, how technology will help to inform, and how to service your clients in a way that responds to their needs. However, in the background, there is an automated process.
FO: If you could speak to your peers about client relationships and what the main goals and factors are in order to keep clients satisfied, what advice would you give them?
Cheryl: Some of the advice is fairly basic: take the time to map out the experience from the client coming into your organization.
Many organizations have grown with assets coming in through new vehicles. The clients can have multiple different experiences, but many don’t take time to understand what these journeys look like.
I am fascinated by the conversation between standardized versus customized. The word “customized” is being redefined today.
"I would challenge people to consider redefining the word customized”
With technology, there is a way to build a modular library that has the big behemoth of everything that you would want to be able to provide the client. That same library also allows a salesperson or relationship manager to pick the relevant information that has been signed off internally by compliance, shareholders, etc.
Such a platform gives the end user a more customized approach. I would challenge people to consider redefining the word “customized”. Technology has helped us to be able to provide a customized feel, while still getting the efficiencies of a standardized approach in the backend.
"As a business grows, we all need to be thinking with a global lens and then drill down to a micro level"
The other challenge lies around the complexities of our clients dependent on your distribution and organization. These clients are cross-enterprise, cross-distribution, and global. It is important to be able to understand the client from that 360-degree viewpoint.
You can then work internally to make sure that you have transparency, whether through using a CRM or through global account planning. As a business grows, we all need to be thinking with a global lens and then drill down to a micro level.
This article is taken from the research report Fund Technology, Data and Operations, US 2019. To download the full report click here.
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