September 2019

By Simon Roy

This article first appeared on

Banks have a tremendous opportunity to increase access to wealth management advice for their mass-affluent clients. But the economics of servicing lower-balance accounts presents challenges for the traditional advice model. Scalable, cost-effective delivery — that doesn’t compromise the client experience — is critical for success.

What is needed for advice to be scalable? With scalability, a bank can profitably serve a larger number of clients without overly expanding its staff. An effective digital advice platform supports the growth of mass-affluent wealth clients. The right digital wealth solution is integrated with bank systems and processes. This helps avoid costly and time-intensive manual procedures and work-arounds, which lead to more errors, higher costs for the bank, and a poor experience for clients — making it more difficult to achieve scalability.

One of the primary drivers pushing banks toward digital advice is the ability to serve smaller accounts at scale, which will allow them to provide value well before these clients have enough assets to meet full-service advice requirements. Given their low-cost structure, digital advice platforms can deliver convenient and affordable services to market segments that have historically been underserved by banks”1

The right solution is typically more than just a portal. It should add efficiencies while providing a more compelling experience for clients - from goal planning, paperless account opening, and seamless integration with third-party providers to an omni-channel service delivery model that connects digital, chat, call center, advisors, branch, and home office.

These foundational features are in our top 10 list of essentials for scalability. A scalable solution that incorporates these fundamentals can create back-office efficiencies for the home office. It helps advisors grow their business and manage more clients more efficiently. And it helps to improve the wealth management experience, by offering more convenient and more personalized service to more clients.

Top 10 essentials for scalability

Home office benefits

1.    Smart automation shrinks the time it takes to complete account actions and lowers costs to serve. 

  • With e-Signatures, signed documents are uploaded immediately for quick review of new accounts.

2.    Seamless integration with the bank’s systems and third-party providers can add efficiencies, reduce errors, and mitigate risk. 

  • By enabling straight-through processing or approval-based workflows with embedded data validations and business logic, “Not in good order” transactions (NIGOs) are mitigated before they become errors.

3.    Investment solutions designed for mass-affluent clients can reduce complexity and operating costs.

  • Model portfolios and rebalancing rules are designed to provide suitable and cost-efficient investment exposure for small-balance accounts.

4.    A service delivery model that includes mass affluent–focused “pure digital” access and call center advisors addresses cost and service challenges.

  • Tiered offers make it feasible to service mass-affluent clients with call center representatives, by phone or by chat.

    “Providers that are able to introduce scalable advice platforms that allow investors in lower wealth tiers to access specialized advice as necessary have an opportunity to create long-term profitable relationships.”2

Advisor benefits

5.    Fewer manual processes allow advisors (dedicated or call center–based) to spend more time managing client relationships and providing financial advice.

  • From paperless account opening with pre-populated forms to self-service money movement transactions, low-value activities require less advisor and staff interaction.

6.    More targeted prospecting efforts can make business development goals more attainable.

  • Integration of client relationship management systems adds visibility to mass-affluent clients’ held-away assets, so that advisors can identify high net worth–opportunities.

7.    Goal-based advice helps to deepen relationships with clients, facilitating account growth that graduates clients from a pure digital level of service to having a dedicated advisor.

  • A risk-tolerance questionnaire instantly evaluates capacity for risk plus attitude toward risk, mapping clients to an efficient investment recommendation that suits their long-term goals.

    Advanced integration benefits bank and trust advisors: 62% more time spent on client investment management, with 76% revenue increase (after shifting time from operations to client investment management)3

Client benefits

8.    Deep integration with the bank’s systems provides a seamless client experience.

  • Clients enjoy the convenience of prepopulated forms for a rapid account opening without leaving the bank’s website, in minutes instead of days — anywhere, anytime.

9.    Digital access empowers the client to get a quick response when they want it, with help where they need it. 

  • With the omni-channel service model, clients can get help by phone, chat, share screen, or in-branch.

10.    Personalized investment experience is more engaging for clients.

  • Goal-based advice embedded in the prospect-to-client journey — combined with efficient, professionally managed investments suited to their risk level — is more tangible and focuses on what matters most to the client.

    “Almost half of wealth managers feel challenged in matching the speed with which mass affluent investors demand service.” 4

When the right digital advice platform is aligned and integrated with the bank’s wealth management offering, it can create scalability and allow the bank to cost effectively serve mass-affluent clients. A quality enterprise solution helps to lower acquisition, onboarding, and ongoing service costs, while improving the wealth management experience for a bank’s large and diverse client base.

To learn more about how digital advice can add scalability and improve the client experience for your firm, go to or email us at

  1. The Cerulli Report: U.S. High-Net-Worth and Ultra-High-Net-Worth Markets 2018 — Shifting Demographics of Private Wealth.
  2. The Cerulli Report: U.S. Retail Investor Products and Platforms 2018 – Defining Client Experience through Choice Architecture.
  3. Aite Group: Technology Integration Turbocharges Advisor Productivity: Making Time for Clients. (This this is compared to peers with basic or no technology integration.) 
  4. Forbesinsights: The Next-Generation Wealth Manager — Advancing Services and Personalization with Technology


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