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Asset management client portals

CX Forum research – key findings in brief

  1. Currently, asset managers are focussing their 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 Asset Management CX Forum’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. 

CX Forum member firms can now exploit these detailed insights into the extent, nature, and range of functionalities their peers are providing.

Contact us if you would like to discover more about the CX Forum – Accomplish’s free gift to the industry CX community – and its research into the leading edge of CX

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 185 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

However, the ‘blue-chip’ nature of the participants and the extent of their experience in this field has created a powerful dataset about the industry’s leading edge.

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, yet the other 55% of firms covered the full cross-section of alternative rates.

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.

What was not clear to us, though, was what firms intended to do with their engagement data.

Engagement is an effect that you can disaggregate into observable behaviours for measurement and analysis.

We would like to discuss with the CX Forum whether they have identified the behaviours they want to stimulate in their clients and whether staff know what to do when they see them.

For example, which online behaviours indicate a mandate at risk? What is the industry average level? What’s your tolerance level? And, when a threshold is exceeded, will a red flag rise and someone take action?

This raised our last question for subsequent research: which behaviours indicate opportunity or risk? And what can you do about it? 

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As a discipline, CX is still in its infancy.

This is particularly the case in the B2B asset management industry, where it has been under-researched and has been open, therefore, to misunderstanding.

At Accomplish, we are changing this with research into the leading-edge of CX, like this. We hope you enjoyed it.

If you would like to stay connected to this topic follow us on LinkedIn where, over the coming weeks, we will publish a series of research articles to address the key questions these insights have raised:

Send us an e-mail if you would like to discover more about this research and the Asset Management CX Forum. We’d love to hear from you.

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