The more things change ..."
As the old proverb has it, the more things change, the more they remain the same. Even in the COVID-tainted world, in which financial services, like almost everything else, need to be delivered in “virtual” format, our clients still come to us with the same goals, the same hopes, and the same needs. Put simply, clients are seeking long-term financial security and the comfort of sleeping well at night.
What matters most?
Research points to convenience as a key priority. With convenience and the aggregation of data emerges a related priority—security. As the pandemic has driven more and more of the banking public into the digital landscape, protecting one’s digital footprint has become a must. After all, the modern behaviors of online banking and investing have become commonplace since the pandemic.
We’ve been there to meet the challenge, with the tools you need and use: We’ll video-conference with you; Zoom-call with you; plain-call you; put more information about ourselves and our professionals on LinkedIn; and make sure that our website remains stocked with our latest insights, market updates, and views from our investment professionals. (Also see the Technology article on PUA’s new Business Transformation Office.) Of course, some of the tools we use are long-established: For example, since the virus reared its ugly head in the early months of last year, ~10,000 clients and prospects joined our senior executives on 30 conference calls, some organized for all our clients and others more locally-based.
Humanizing the machines
Despite the ubiquity of digitized tools, “What should be dynamic now feels dull,” said Michael Peters, an Expert-in-Residence at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. “What’s lost in this remote world is the ability to relate to people as humans. You can get information in a video conference, but it’s very hard to get inspiration in a video conference.”1
We agree with Mr. Peters that it may be hard to get inspired from a video conference, but we also think it’s quite possible. The solution, we believe, is two-pronged: to not rely overly on any one vehicle, whether it’s video conferences or anything else, and to address the very human needs of our clients. In the COVID world, that can mean paying attention not only to our clients’ pocketbooks but to their hearts. It’s not unprofessional for us as a wealth manager to address emotional needs with empathy in difficult times; it would be unprofessional, in our view, not to.
In providing our clients with expert advice, we know that digital and “traditional” financial services are not in conflict; indeed, the two are complementary. As McKinsey & Company consultants had it a few years ago, “...the digitization of [financial] advice does not mean the automation of advice.”2
A full service and tailored advisory
And so we can engage with our clients wherever and as frequently as they wish. What we’ve found out in this new digital era—which we had suspected—is that, ultimately, how we deliver services isn’t as important as what we deliver.
As a Registered Investment Advisor inside a bank, People’s United Advisors offers a very broad spectrum of financial services, including investment management across all major asset classes and global geographies, full-service personal and business banking, estate planning, retirement planning, and insurance. And within those categories, the range of services is large. It’s the job of our professional Advisors to consult with each of our clients and arrange the customized package of services best-suited to meet his or her unique needs. Neither COVID nor the digital revolution has changed that critical aspect of the way we work.
Engage with us; we are more than ready.