Asset management client portals

In brief

  1. Currently, asset managers are focussing their institutional client portals’ functionality on data ‘availability’, but their plans relate more to ‘customisation and interrogation’.
  2. The difference matters because, while the former enables you to replicate or improve existing experiences, the latter can generate entirely new value for clients.
  3. To transfer this value, you must first get clients to use your portal for which, our findings indicate, you will need a deliberate adoption strategy.
  4. Internal and external feedback is broadly consistent, but it is at risk of ‘blind spots’, highlighting the importance of measuring clients’ actions as well as words.
  5. Most firms measured ongoing engagement. But why? Which behaviours indicate opportunity or risk? And what will you do about it?

Replicate, improve, and generate entirely new value

Welcome to a summary of the Accomplish’s Q1 2021 research into the experiences firms were providing through client portals to the global institutional market. 

Industry-wide, some firms had portals and others did not. And some portals had a range of functionalities, while others did not.

Through this research, we have created a powerful dataset about asset management client portals and the digital capabilities that support them.

The results are valuable because portals are an important differentiator for both client experience (CX) and firms’ operational efficiency, making them a key feature of digital CX strategies. 

Asset managers can now exploit these detailed insights into the extent, nature, and range of functionalities their peers are providing.

If you would like to learn more, download the full version of the report or contact Accomplish with any questions. 

A powerful dataset about asset management client portals

87% of firms in the sample of 22 global brands had one or more portal for their institutional clients, giving them a combined experience of 192 years of lessons learned.

Is this representative of the industry? In our opinion, no, and that is good news.

From experience, we believe the industry-wide adoption of client portals is lower than in this sample.

We assume two selection biases have created this skew:

  • Member firms of the Asset Management CX Forum may be more likely to provide portals for their clients
  • Firms with neither a portal nor plans to develop one may have been less likely to participate in the research

Because of this, the ‘blue-chip’ nature of the participants, and the extent of their experience of client portals, this is a powerful dataset about the industry’s leading edge that every asset manager should be able to learn from.

Five key findings 

Finding 1. Asset managers’ current digital functionality focuses on data ‘availability’, but their plans relate more to ‘customisation and interrogation’

In general, making data available between computers is the least complex API operation and, indeed, we found that viewing, reading and downloading data and documents was the most common type of functionality asset managers provided via their portals.

However, the area of greatest planned growth was in enabling clients to customise their experiences and interrogate their data, e.g. profile preferences for reporting customisations, completing entire operational processes, and managing queries.

A key question, therefore, for asset managers as they upgrade their digital CX strategies will be, ‘what are the favourable starting points for a client portal and potential next moves?’

Asset management client portals

Finding 2. Customisation and interrogation generates entirely new value for clients

Different functionalities for asset management client portals bring different levels of value: you can use your portal to replicate existing experiences, improve them, or generate entirely new experiences.

We found that enabling clients to view, read and download existing data and reports either replicates or improves their existing experience. In the simplest example, they may access the same quarterly investment report differently.

Alternatively, empowering clients to customise and interrogate data can generate entirely new value for them, e.g. interactive analytics, or portfolio modelling that may have previously been limited to only a few clients.

In a crowded market, we believe the question this raises is about client journeys and how you will use your digital client journey to stand out? Will you offer the same services in a new way, improved services in a new way, or new services in a new way?

Finding 3. To transfer the value of your portal to clients, you must first get them to use it, for which you will need a deliberate adoption strategy.

Interestingly, we found no obvious relationship between portal adoption rates and either their age or their value (in terms of the range of functionalities).

Rather, we found a strong skew in adoption towards the 45% of firms that employed a deliberate adoption strategy. Because of these companies, 100% was the most common adoption rate across the sample. However, within the majority remainder of firms (55% of participants), the average adoption rate was a disappointing 23% and several firms recorded 0%. 

In one instance, the asset manager’s own team was responding to queries by logging-in for clients, creating reports for them, and then sending them as attachments. From a behavioral perspective, they were teaching clients to phone the Client Service team, not use the portal.

Our question here relates to behavioural science: if clients are just humans, how can firms use behavioural science to stimulate adoption and ongoing engagement?

Finding 4. Internal and external feedback is broadly consistent, but it is at risk of ‘blind spots’

Common feedback mechanisms included user research and testing, touchpoint sampling, and surveys. In general, when clients liked a portal so did staff, and vice versa.

Interestingly, staff interpreted ‘no news as good news’, but could this be a ‘blind spot’? A theme across these firms was positive feedback from clients during testing followed by low levels of feedback during actual use.

In these cases, staff remained confident in their proposition even if feedback had dropped to neutral or ‘nil’. Presumably, this was because they felt that few users would get back in touch to say that a service is still OK.

However, it is already known that what humans do can differ dramatically from what they say, causing feedback to contain gaps and inaccuracies that without behavioural data on actual engagement could cause ‘blind spots’.

So, asking for feedback is essential, but if you want to measure a client’s experience, look at their actions – they will tell you the true story.  

Finding 5. Most firms measured ongoing engagement. But which client actions indicate opportunity or risk?

80% of firms tracked metrics for their portals, which we considered to be on the low side and, to help the CX community, we created a log of the measures of engagement firms’ considered most useful.

However, we did not find many instances of firms using their engagement data to learn and improve the experiences they provide clients.

Engagement is an ‘effect’ you can cause. Disaggregate it into behaviors that you can then measure and analyse.

We recommend you:

  • Identify the client behaviors you want your portal to stimulate.
  • Monitor its success at doing so.
  • Learn and improve your digital experience.

About the authors

At Accomplish, we run the asset management Client Behavior Benchmark – the global industry’s benchmark of institutional client behavior.

Top tier asset managers are using it to identify weaknesses in their client journeys and fix them with behavioral nudges. This means they can keep their sales funnels as wide as possible for as long as possible.

Because you can quantify the revenue impact of the behaviors you stimulate in clients, firms are also setting targets, for example, sales conversion, client tenure, and products per client. And because the benchmark runs quarterly, they are able to respond quickly to changes in client behavior.

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