Customisation of products and services can be seen in everything from movie streaming apps to fast food restaurants, and demand is a key driver. Research shows that 71% of consumers expect tailored services – and the companies who do it well can generate 40% more in revenue than their average counterparts.1
Data is helping to drive this transformation. With real-time insights into customer habits and preferences, the right products and services can be offered to the right people. Financial planning is no exception to this and harnessing the power of data optimisation could be crucial to securing good outcomes for your clients. It may also prove particularly important in fulfilling your duties as part of the new Consumer Duty from 31 July. However, adoption of new technology within the industry has been slow, despite the benefits it can bring.2
Five areas where data could be used to help your business include:
- Insights and forecasting
- Creating personalised financial plans
- Improving client retention
- Increasing client acquisition
- Making efficiencies and operational improvements
Here are examples of how you could optimise data for these purposes – to help you align with the new Consumer Duty requirements and achieve positive outcomes for both you and your clients.
1. Improve your insights and forecasting
Having the right insights could lead to better investment outcomes for your clients. And while exchanges and other market monitors might be your go-to tools for analysis, you could also harness the power of alternative data. This includes details such as credit card transactions, geospatial economic data and environmental, social and governance (ESG) information which may help to provide a richer, 360-degree view of market opportunity. With the inclusion of these broader data sets, you might find opportunities to offer clients a wider range of options and products.
From a forecasting perspective, using artificial intelligence (AI) for a data-driven approach could be an invaluable addition to your financial planning. The application of AI across your business could help you analyse data to predict outcomes such as revenue, customer behaviour, and even potential market movements.
For example, natural language processing (a branch of AI that can automatically process and understand human languages) can retrieve information from a wide variety of written sources. This adds to datasets that can be analysed for patterns. AI gets more accurate as it’s fed new data. So, feeding the analysis back into your analytics systems will help ‘train’ your AI to improve its forecasting outcomes for your clients.
In terms of Consumer Duty, the FCA requires firms to avoid causing foreseeable harm. Therefore, using AI for a more robust approach to forecasting could help you to evidence that you’re providing good advice based on measurable outcomes.
2. Create personalised plans – and experiences
As an expert in financial planning, you’ll be well versed in client fact-finding to identify suitable market products and create personalised plans. 90% of consumers say they’ll spend more with companies that personalise the customer service they offer – so optimising your approach to personalisation could be a key value proposition for your business.3
Technology such as client onboarding software can help you gather the data you need more easily and improve the speed and quality of your services. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platforms can also help you nurture your connections over time. These could help transform client interactions that rely largely on email, telephone, and in-person meetings, to more responsive, immersive relationships.
Using the forecasting capabilities of AI and machine learning to analyse your data for patterns, you can create a data-driven prediction of future outcomes for your clients. This may prove particularly useful when tailoring your clients’ retirement plans. Data analysis could also provide additional context to your clients’ investment strategies. For example, you could use it to model the tax implications of a range of investment alternatives, for faster and more targeted optimisation.
3. Improve client retention
Offering engaging, up-to-date digital systems could improve your clients’ experience of your services. And giving them access to their own data in a transparent, accessible way could help to enhance the trusted relationships you’ve already invested in building.
For example, by offering your clients access to a digital dashboard and/or mobile app, you could present a clear snapshot of how their investments are performing and what other products and opportunities are available. Harnessing data and technology to further refine your recommendations in line with their goals and values may further strengthen these connections.
From a Consumer Duty perspective, consumer understanding is a key outcome that you’ll need to address. So, providing your clients with this level of transparency could help them to further understand their investments.
When transparent data insights are incorporated with improved market analytics, it could create a seamless experience for your clients, and help to increase your client retention rates.
4. Increase client acquisition
An appealing customer experience might not only help you to retain clients, but attract new ones. And beyond the enhanced level of personalisation you can offer, data can be leveraged in a more targeted way to identify and secure new business.
For example, using data to your advantage could help you to identify market whitespace and generate additional leads. Many data-led lead-generation applications have the technical capability to search for new leads from social media interactions or other channels – and some can centralise your leads in one place.
From there, you can automate other parts of the lead-generation process. Email software like Mailchimp can do the heavy lifting of preparing emails and personalised messages to make those critical introductions. Built-in AI tools can then harness the data from your email performance and help you refine future messaging, to potentially improve your lead conversion rates over time.
5. Find efficiencies and make operational improvements
Optimising your data can help to automate and streamline your processes. By integrating different data sources across your business, you can access what you need more quickly and efficiently, improving your productivity. With your data streams connected, this could help to eliminate manual tasks such as duplicate data entry, reducing the time and cost you need to spend on data processing.
By embracing automation, you or your employees could be freed up to complete more value-added tasks. Another key outcome of the new Consumer Duty is consumer support – including assessing turnaround times. So, having this extra time could help you to improve on this.
Automation may also lower the risk of errors being introduced in data-entry tasks, which could help to protect your firm from a variety of risk such as revenue loss or litigation.
Embrace data optimisation and build your client relationships
We know that undergoing a digital transformation is a big step to take. But, armed with insights from client and market data, you could provide a more relevant, personalised service, with added value for your clients. This curated approach could help you build deeper client relationships – and help you stand out in a competitive market.
With the new Consumer Duty coming into effect on 31 July, enhancing your data strategies could be an important – and effective – way to fulfil your duties. For the latest on Consumer Duty, visit our Consumer Duty hub.