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Personal touch matters in wealth management

This article was originally published on the BusinessDesk website.

Some reports say the value of mass market personalisation – the art of bringing personalised experiences to large numbers of customers at scale – can bring up to a 15 per cent increase in revenue and a 30 per cent increase in customer satisfaction.

So imagine the benefits of applying this concept to wealth management. As it happens, imagination isn’t necessary because personalisation is what investors should be experiencing from investment advisers.

“It’s all about a personal relationship which builds into and informs personalised advice and investment guidance.”
Craigs Investment Partners, Auckland

In her 20th year as an investment adviser with Craigs, she says, “The more you know your client, the better the guidance you can give.”

While that approach is ‘just good sense’, insights back up that gut feel. In its ‘The Next In Personalisation’ report (2021), McKinsey & Co. observes that personalisation can lift revenues by 5 to 15 per cent and customer satisfaction by more.

For investment advisers, personalisation relates closely to an aspect unique to every individual: risk profile and risk tolerance. Advisers, therefore, must always consider risk management, establishing specific needs and applying sound, disciplined investment principles to each client’s investment strategy. This combines with a client’s financial goals and aligning an investment portfolio with a long-term plan, even when faced with ever-present distractions.

After all, not all investment opportunities are equal, viable or suitable for every investor; Williamson says cryptocurrencies are a key example, with social Bitcoin talk or a hot technology market tempting investors to stray from their established investment plans – often translating into enquiries at her office.

These things come up from time to time, and it’s why we have a big picture plan and why we stick to it,” she says.

Creating that plan is a process. “Particularly in the initial phases of client engagement, people don’t understand what is available to them in terms of investments, and sometimes don’t have a clear idea of what they want to do and how to get there. These are among the key details we establish at the outset, along with risk appetite and investment goals.”

Even within that big picture plan, aspects are subject to change, she continues. “Along the way, things happen which have a direct impact on previously ‘solid’ plans: a business sale, an inheritance, another child, a relationship ending, or a retiree re-entering the workforce. When these types of life events occur, the presence of a trusted adviser who brings a neutral and considered approach to wealth management, investment opportunities and risk will help achieve optimal outcomes for their clients,” Williamson maintains.

While achieving sound returns is the goal of every client, she says there is more to it: “When these life events happen, one of the biggest advantages my clients appreciate is that they can let us know, and we can then advise what we can do to help manage that change in circumstances from an investment perspective. This takes a lot of stress out of the equation, so they can relax and sleep well at night.”

As wealth management personalisation is, to a great extent, about risk management and the identification of appropriate opportunities for the individual investor, Williamson says experience counts, along with patience and breadth of knowledge.

“It’s not all about chasing performance, which is a common misperception. Higher potential returns often mean heightened risk and getting in trouble is easy without the right insight and advice, as the financial market impact of the pandemic, the war in Ukraine, and other recent global events have shown. Every person’s situation is different, even if the range of investments available to them is the same.”

She echoes comments made by colleague Andrew McLean, who noted that clients often look for common ground with their advisers. “People come to you and stay with you when there’s a right fit, be it personal values, an interest in detail and insights, or even where you grew up. There’s a big element of ‘like seeks like’, to the extent that, when covering for colleagues out of the office, you quickly realise the difference between ‘your’ clients, and another adviser’s,” she laughs.

It helps to have a large team of colleagues – Craigs has about 180 advisers across the country – as attempts are made to match clients with the most compatible adviser in their local branch. “We’ve even had calls routed to specific advisers based on initial impressions just over the phone,” Williamson adds.

In business since 1984, Craigs has built its reputation by helping many New Zealanders navigate the challenges of investing by building enduring relationships and delivering highly personalised advice, including much more than just managing the numbers and calculations associated with wealth management.

The effectiveness of this approach is clear as she fondly describes working with clients who first came in as 65-year-old fresh retirees. “They’re now in their 80s, in a very different stage of their lives, but our relationship remains as strong as ever.”

It’s also where job satisfaction is derived. “We take seriously and personally the high level of trust our clients place in us to provide advice for their financial future and that of their families. Helping our clients navigate through both tough and prosperous times is highly rewarding, particularly when we see children and then grandchildren come into the picture – the personal approach means clients often discuss all kinds of things they haven’t mentioned to anyone else outside their immediate families.

“Sometimes, the personal approach means these insights directly influence how we’ll help them manage their money and risk profile.”

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Craigs Investment Partners

Craigs Investment Partners

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