by Tony Vidler
Emulate “the Private Bankers” is the sage advice of Dr Phillip M. Randall for advisers when it comes to combatting the multiple pressure points of rising consumer expectations, technology-driven and cost-focussed solutions, and the trend for “self management” in all things by clients.
I had the pleasure of spending a little time with him this week and listening to him talk through the issues facing advisers in the face of the greatest disruptor, being artificial intelligence. He suggests that we are not that far away from AI being able to emulate or replicate many of the emotional aspects that advisers believe separate them from robo’s.
The answer for advisers wishing to remain relevant and valuable in clients lives is to take a leaf from the private bankers. That is; be more than the person who has money discussions with clients.
Be the person who handles all the complex issues in their lives without fuss. Help manage other professional relationships and be the key contact who interacts with lawyers, accountants – even bankers. Be the person who knows the most about their family, their friends, their causes and connections, their values and aspirations.
While private bankers may well make the majority of their money from the fees they charge for handling transactions and managing money, the value they provide is not actually really in the money management itself. The real value is in the convenience and freedom which they create for clients by pre-empting client issues and concerns due to their detailed knowledge of the client. It is this in-depth client knowledge coupled with the established level of trust created through relentless pursuit of prioritising the clients requirements which largely ensures that successive generations of the the clients family continue with the same private bank.
The very best of the private bankers know the clients tailors – and precise measurements for the tailors. And they will deal with the tailors for the client. Or the dentist. Or the doctor. Or the school. Whatever. Whoever. They see their role as taking care of all the details so that the client can focus on doing whatever it is that the client wants to spend their life focussing upon.
They do not have opening and closing hours. They are available all hours.
It is an extraordinary business proposition and business model when you think about it. It is also one which will be very difficult for an algorithm or self-learning robot to replicate quickly. Underlying it all is immense (and intense) data management which is being actively utilised.
The knowledge acquired through every interaction is captured and stored, and referred to, and utilised to lift service levels and pre-empt future requirements. It is transferrable from staff member to staff member over the years within the institution providing the private banking facilities. It is the ultimate in bespoke advice for clients.
A typical adviser doesn’t have the resources of course to fully emulate the well established private banks with a couple of centuries of history and capital reserves tucked away, and doing so is not really the point that is being made.
They key point is that it all begins with knowing more about your client than anyone else does. A strong argument exists that by capturing that knowledge, and then using it to create additional value over and above that expected from our core professional expertise, is where the future lies for those who want to ensure their clients value them above any other advice or service models. When you know more about them and what matters than anybody else does, you become invaluable.
By definition, if you are invaluable you cannot be replaced, can you?