Private banks and wealth managers urged to copy luxury sector on service

Wealth managers and private banks have been urged to copy the customer service offered in the luxury goods sector if they want to retain high net worth clients.

A Futurewealth Report by SEI, Scorpio Partnership, and Standard Chartered Private Bank says that when it comes to effectively using and leveraging digital technology to create “brand love” and loyalty among clients, wealth management firms lag other luxury brand industries – including luxury cars, luxury retail, and luxury travel.

The report accompanies a survey of 3,477 respondents globally, with an average $1.9m in net worth. It found financial services had improved the most amongst luxury brand industries in establishing personal connections, up 7.2% over the past year, but more must be done in the digital realm. 

While regulations complicate how financial services companies can utilize digital technology, the report concludes that financial firms must find ways to connect, keep in touch, provide insights, and build reputations online, or risk being left behind.

 “It’s obvious the banking and wealth management industry is making strides in using technology and digital communications, but not yet meeting the demands and interests of its clients,” said Joseph P. Ujobai, Executive Vice President, SEI.

“Technology integration and workflow management features available through today’s wealth management platforms are certainly helping, but it’s personal and online relationships that will close the gap between financial services and other industries. Wealth management providers need to recognize and concentrate on what drives the up-and-coming wealthy to select and commit to certain brands.”

Interacting online is even more important for wealth management firms looking to reach and build stronger relationships with the higher end of the up-and-coming wealthy.  The report asked for respondents’ opinions of 16 elite global firms that are renowned for their approaches to digital marketing in their industries.

Of those respondents with more than $4m in net worth, when buying a service or product from a financial services firm, online tools influence this high-net-worth group nearly as strongly as their previous experiences with the firm. 

While the up-and-coming wealthy still ranked “previous experience” first, with a 7.4 out of 10 score, website, ratings, and reviews (7.1); online marketplace (6.9); search engines (6.8); and social networking (6.7) all ranked nearly as high.

“In all industries, but especially financial services, developing personal relationships with clients is paramount. However, in order for wealth management professionals to have the time to foster these relationships, they must have tools in place to streamline business practices,” said Al Chiaradonna, Senior Vice President, SEI Wealth Platform.

“At the heart of this lies innovation, especially in the technology space. Wealth management organizations need to evaluate the platforms they’re currently using to determine how they can institute efficiencies such as aggregating client information and financial planning strategies, and ultimately reinvest that time savings back into their client relationships.”

Among the elite brands measured in the Futurewealth Report, luxury car brands received the highest scores (88 out of 100) on the “Brand Love Index,” which measures the excitement, warmth, and commitment that firms inspire in their up-and-coming wealthy customers.

Close behind were luxury retail (86 out of 100) and luxury travel (82 out of 100) brands. Banks and financial firms ranked substantially lower, with a rating of only 71, illustrating that these firms are behind other consumer sectors in forming crucial, lasting personal connections via online channels.

“Building strong relationships are one of the keys to lasting success in the financial services industry. When those interactions were solely face-to-face, the industry was very successful, but digital communication is changing the game. It is vital for financial advisors to connect with clients and prospects through both digital and traditional mediums in order to become a more influential and valued provider,” said Kevin Crowe, Head of Solutions, SEI Advisor Network.

“Digital communication is also one of the best ways to generate ongoing excitement about the client-firm relationship as well as strengthen that connection over the long term.”

The report is the final one of a four-part series delving into the findings of the Futurewealth Project, which aims to better understand the ambitions and consumer attitudes of the world’s up-and-coming wealthy. Each report focuses on a different theme around how technology and digital communications can be used to engage the next generation of wealthy.

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