Demographics are destinies: what clients expect in the digital-first buying experience

Winnie Palmer

EMEA Head of Marketing


Demographics are destinies. Today, 63% of the world population is aged under 40. The population of wealthy individuals is steadily expanding. Many of them are likely to be a party to or are considering, the transfer of substantial wealth for the first time.

Over the next 20 years, about $70 trillion of wealth will be transferred in North America alone.  That figure is equally significant in Europe and Asia. However, the way you look at it, the sum of the great wealth transfer is gigantic – a value that equals to the entire Chinese economy or 17 times the market capitalisation of Amazon will be transferred to a new generation of clients in the next decade or so. 

This shift of wealth is creating significant opportunities for the wealth management industry.  Wealth transfer is not easy. Every culture and country seems to struggle with a similar set of challenges. Indeed, it is estimated that around 70% of the ultra-high-net-worth (UHNW) families fail in the process of transferring wealth and responsibilities. Having the ability to understand and reach out beyond the family figurehead is now understood as a definitive competitive edge for many wealth advisors.

The question then is about how financial services (FS) firms plan to capitalise on the opportunity arising from the great wealth transfer. As marketers, how do we help our businesses deliver the desired services and communication mechanisms that the new generation of clients demands? More specifically, how do we enable our teams, regardless of their geographies, languages, functions and/or experience levels, to consistently deliver highly compelling, differentiated client experience that builds real trust in a world that is increasingly driven by digital communications?

One would argue that a strategy that creates end-to-end enablement underpinned by technologies would help answer these questions. Enablement that connects data, systems, and people to deliver personalised services consistently at scale.

Let me explain.

We are ultimately in the industry of selling trust. Many of us are also clients of the firms we service, so we could illustrate this point with an example. When a wealth advisor approaches us, they would tell us that this is what our future is going to look like in 20 years. Well, can we trust them to manage our wealth, our families, the transfer to our children for decades to come? Will they be the first person we would call when we have a financial question?

The thing is that the experience we have with our advisor, in a subtle and meaningful way, determines if we would consider them trustworthy. For example, do they behave in a way that makes us feel that they can help us manage the future, or do they represent what is optimised for the world of yesterday?

Fundamentally, clients want from their advisors a future-proof solution, not an out-of-date model that was built in the last century.

Therefore, the behaviour matters, the experience matters, and this is where enablement comes into play. Your client-facing teams can be enabled to deliver that impression and that experience expected by the new generation of clients at every stage of the journey.

This new generation of clients, being digitally native, socially savvy and mobile, demand their advisors to have the dexterity to deliver services across channels in digital, prefer remote human engagement and are likely to choose self-service whenever possible. Mobile phones are an extension of their selves and they use social platforms to learn about topics that they are interested in. That is why savvy FS firms are prospecting on social platforms such as LinkedIn!  However, what we have learned from working with these firms is that although prospective clients would like to know what is on offer, they do not welcome calls that much. The new generation of clients would like to learn about what is available themselves at the time that is suitable for them. They want the content to read, do their own research, and then make up their own minds. This is what we are seeing where the industry is going.

Further still, when prospective clients do speak with a potential service provider, they expect the experience to be highly personalised. It can be frustrating if at this point if they were to receive a generic, flat document that is 25 or 30 pages long as they would expect a much more intelligent conversation that is relevant to their specific situation.

Enablement technologies help FS firms deliver such a level of personalised services. Getting enablement right is the critical path for firms to earn and maintain trust systematically at scale. Smarter enablement delivers better outcomes. Here are some suggested steps:

1.   Enable – you want to enable your advisors and relationship managers to be more productive faster via training and playbooks that help them navigate complex selling situations. You can also automate data-rich content for maximum efficiency and speed, so they can focus on client services rather than pushing papers.

2.   Engagement – allow your advisors to engage with clients across their lifecycle and across channels in a way that is personalised and stands out from the competition.

3.   Improve – arm your leaders and support your teams with the technology and insights that they need to continuously improve, adapt and win.

This is a continuous process that has worked for many forward-thinking financial firms that we are working with. The value is proven. I have seen from our work in the industry how enablement strategies underpinned by technologies have been able to double efficiency, delivering more time with clients, safeguarding compliance in a systematic manner, reducing costs and ultimately driving profitability at scale.

In terms of the way forward, there are options.  You can either start simple and grow, or alternatively, you can start big and take it to the next level. No matter where you are on your enablement journey, it is important to think through your strategic imperatives within the context of your business limitations.

About the Author

Winnie Palmer is the EMEA Head of Marketing at Seismic, the industry leader in enablement. If you would like to learn more about how enablement can help maximise your go-to-market effectiveness and engage with the new generation of buyers, please contact her on