By all accounts, 11 October 2013 was a seminal day.  It was the day on-line media spewed out endless stories about the “Digitalisation of Delivery”, the 2nd D-word in our series on macro themes profoundly affecting the wealth management industry.

According to the press that day, the industry is about to have a dedicated social media investment platform, find digital data nirvana and live the dream with a cloud-based SMSF platform.  And that was just on the Friday.  The tsunami continued the following week.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that you might drown in a sea of bytes, bits and exotic digital solutions.

The digital riptide is strong.  It’s easy to panic and to reach for any piece of debris to try and stay afloat – social media being the oft quoted digital panacea in our industry.  But digital delivery is far more expansive than social media alone and a 360 degree approach is required – but more on that below.

So why’s a cohesive approach important?  3 reasons come to mind:

  1. Heightened and more effective use of digital and other technologies delivers greater efficiency dividends, across all market segments.  The digitalisation of delivery will be pervasive throughout all market segments – from industry funds to the banks; from planners to accountants, from platforms to fund managers and the like.
  2. It will be particularly acute among SMSFs with their inherent bias towards self or semi-direction.  If you follow the money, currently the biggest holder of pre-retirement assets by market segment is SMSFs.  For post-retirement assets, SMSFs come in second behind personal retail funds.  Industry funds and the retail sector catch up to SMSFs by around 2025 for pre-retirement assets.  In terms of projected post-retirement assets, however, SMSFs are way out in front – by a staggering amount according to Deloitte in “Dynamics of the Australian Superannuation System – the Next 20 Years: 2013-2033”.
  3. In the same way as demand and utilisation of digital delivery is pervasive across market segments, it also spans the age brackets.  The Deloitte paper points out that the “silent generation” and the “baby-boomers” currently account for 56% of all superannuation assets.  Even my “silent generation” mum is now digital.  Grandson #7 has effortlessly wired her up on her own Granny-Pad.  Like her grandson, she is now equally destroying her frontal lobes with puerile on-line content on investment tips, on-line portfolio reports and outrageously expensive “kick-the-bucket” trips to Petra and the Pyramids (there goes someone’s financial plan).

And it won’t abate after the baby-boomers.  By 2023, Deloitte projects that 68% of superannuation assets will be owned by Generation X and Y.  They haven’t yet invented the portals they will use to manage their digital retirement savings!

The industry will need to harness digital delivery mechanisms not only to deal with Gen X and Y but also to profitably hang onto the baby-boomers’ and the silent generation’s existing assets.  Whichever segment or generation you are dealing with, a structured, 360 degree digital strategy is required – sooner rather than later.

So if we accept the pervasive nature of digital delivery, how should it be deployed?

The digitalisation of delivery is multi-faceted and multi-directional, necessitating the 360 degree approach – not just a shot in the dark on one aspect of digital delivery such as web sites and random social media.  There are a myriad of ways to slice and dice the digital continuum but one way is to divide it up into a number of key components and to carefully craft a cohesive and integrated marketing approach for each and every component.  Key digital marketing components include:

 

T&C360

 

Examples for each component include:

Products & Services Content Analytics Automated Marketing
Account registration and set-up Product and service information Lead generation and campaigns Click and conversion measurement
PDS and offer documentation On-line education knowledge and learning Website and other on-line interaction tools and triggers Campaign tracking
Forms and notices On-line calculators Social media Data capture, storage, management and retrieval
Account maintenance News and commentary On-line customer retention tools Compliance effectiveness measurement
Transactions Q&A On-line promotions (special offers, contests, giveaways etc)
Portfolio, administration and account reporting Subscription centres
Community centres
Surveys and on-line research

 

Operational efficiency and cost control is everything at the moment.  And the one good thing about this space is that a whole industry is emerging that enables participants in the wealth management industry to leverage the scale of specialist digital delivery suppliers – be they the traditional platforms, newer platforms, automated marketing and analytics tools such as Vision6, social media sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook, specialist content providers or new SMSF technology systems.

But far more important than all of that, and what matters most, is a strategic and cohesive 360 degree approach – rather than a lunge for some passing flotsam or jetsam.