Filling the Gap of Wealth Management Offerings to Grow Wallet Share

Americans need personalized financial and wealth management advice more than ever, but don’t know where to look.

The coronavirus pandemic negatively impacted personal finances for more than 60% of Americans, according to recent data from GOBankingRates. Many of these Americans have relationships with regional and community banks that could be a trusted partner when it comes to investing and planning for the future, but these institutions often lack adequate financial advisory resources and options. This drives customers to social media and other providers, such as fintechs or large national institutions, for wealth management needs — when they actually would prefer a personal, professional relationship with their bank.

The current need for stronger wealth management offerigns, coupled with advances in easy-to-deploy technology, means that community banks can now offer more holistic, lifecycle financial advice. These offerings have the potential to create new revenue streams, engage people earlier in their wealth-building and financial planning journey, deepen and fortify existing customer relationships and make financial advice more accessible.

But while many banks have a strong depositor base and a customer base that trusts them, the majority don’t have the expertise, resources or digital engagement tools to offer these services. Modern technology can help fill this gap, empowering institutions to offer more robust financial advisory services.

Banks should meet customers where they spend the majority of their time — within digital channels. Intuitive, self-service digital options presents a valuable way to engage customers in a way that’s not complex or requires additional staff in branches. First steps can include a digital calculator within the bank’s mobile app so individuals can compute their financial wellness score, or presenting simple options to customers to invest a nominal sum of money, then adding a way to monitor its progress or dips. It can also include a digital planning discovery tool to help customers organize their accounts online.

More meaningful success lies in leveraging customer behavior data to understand changes and designing processes so that individual can seamlessly move to the next phase of the financial advice lifecycle. This might include flagging when a customer opens additional accounts, when someone has a high cash balance and frequent deposits, or when a younger individual accrues more wealth that simply sits. If banks fail to proactively monitor this activity and reach out with relevant hooks, offers and insights, that individual is almost guaranteed to look elsewhere — taking their money and loyalty with them.

Banks should provide options for customers to reach out for guidance or questions around next steps — including knowledgeable financial advisors at the ready. While people are increasingly comfortable with (and establishing a preference toward) managing money and investments digitally, there is still a critical need for direct and quick access to a live human. Banks can integrating matching capabilities and staffing regional centers or branches with designated experts, but there should also be options for customers to contact advisors remotely through video or chat. This allows individuals to receive relevant advice and support from anywhere, anytime.

But building the infrastructure that can properly serve and support clients throughout every stage and situation can be prohibitive and cumbersome for most community and regional institutions. Fortunately, there are strategic technology partners that can offer a modern, end-to-end platform that spans the entire advisory lifecycle and offers integrated digital enablement right out of the box.

A platform, in lieu of a collection of bespoke software features from multiple vendors, can act as a single point of truth and provides a centralized ecosystem for customers to receive a holistic snapshot of their financial situations and plan. Look for platforms with open APIs to facilitate seamless integration to complement and maintain the front, middle and back office while offering a full range of functionality for bank customers. Plus, having one platform that can accommodate every stage of the financial advisory lifecycle makes interactions easier and more efficient for the institution, and more familiar and friendly for the customer.

Community and regional institutions have always served as a beacon of trust and support for their communities and customers. They don’t have to experience customer attrition over wealth management options and functions. Those that do so will be able to form even stickier, more profitable relationships, while helping customers broaden their opportunities and improve their overall financial wellness.

Innovation Spotlight: BankWest Community Bank


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Vincent Tyson
Deposit Accounts Manager, BankWest

Vincent Tyson oversees deposit generation and retention for the South Dakota-based bank, including product development and process changes. He works closely with branch managers, the regional president and CFO on rate changes and deposit pricing. In this interview, he discusses the practical dynamics of staying relevant and assessing customer needs outside of the traditional bank environment.

How have you been able to stay innovative at BankWest?
We have a dedicated project team that works with our vendors to integrate vendor solutions into our product mix when we believe that our markets are ready for it. We aren’t bleeding edge, but sometimes we will be first in our markets. For a South Dakota bank, we’ve been able to stay innovative with the remote solutions we offer our customers. With such a large agricultural customer base, our products and services need to be in the fields, barns and on the ranches where our customers are. Despite our 127-year history, our innovation is the ability to remain relevant in our customers’ lives, no matter where they work, live or play.

When it comes to implementing a fintech solution, would you rather buy, build or partner?
At this point, we’d rather partner. We’re not big enough to buy and don’t have enough resources to build. Like most banks of our size ($1 billion in assets), we prefer to —buy in’ to new technology and roll it out as part of another service/sales channel. Investing too heavily could be dangerous, and bringing in resources for development could be hit and miss.

As consumer expectations in banking change, how do you stay engaged with this audience?
Lots of research, especially among our existing customers. We also invest heavily in staff education, keeping key personnel up to date with relevant technology and making sure all of our staff members are trained and ready to launch new technology as it becomes available. South Dakotans tend to be up-front with their needs, vocal about their opinions and pretty focused on where they see value from their bank. We make sure that we hear their voices by keeping in touch, making sure that we are in the places where our future customers are learning and asking our existing base what they’ll need tomorrow. This is done through engaging face-to-face meetings, either in our branch network or out at the customer’s property or place of work. We have many touch points, as well as surveys that allow us to track trends and focus resources where needed.