In a quest for differentiation, investment managers are now more than ever focusing on sales, marketing and client servicing functions in hopes of enhancing sales results and elevating their clients’ experience. To enable and empower the market facing personnel, internal positions like Head of Distribution Intelligence are becoming commonplace, while the technology spend on solutions across the client engagement spectrum is amped up.
This set of solutions (on the left) surely is familiar to any investment manager, but less clear is how to execute on these client engagement building blocks to achieve maximum impact and avoid creating or reinforcing operational and organizational silos. A good start is to assess if you are:
1) Client ready – can you place each project within the context of an end-to-end client experience definition?
2) Business ready – do you understand how workflows, roles, and responsibilities will change within and across functions?
3) Data ready – is your data in the state you need it to be in to efficiently effect change?
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it – George Santayana.
As it contemplates new operating models and technology solutions, Distribution should explore the journey taken by the other side of the house. The front, middle and back offices that comprise the investment process and the business and technical architectures that support it are built off of legacy platforms from the 1990s. Technology realities and limitations of that time helped shape the organizational and operational silos that emerged. Fast forward to today where operational transformation is aimed at unwinding those investments, knocking down the artificial walls to tighten the investment process front-to-back, and driving in operational agility that is required to survive in a world in which margins, competition, and complexity have all gotten tougher.
In fact, those same market realities are driving the stepped up investments in the Distribution function. How do we generate better leads? How do we shorten the sales cycle and increase the win ratio? How do we onboard clients more effectively? How do we service existing clients and cross-sell better? These are important questions to answer and address through the aforementioned solutions. We argue they should be contemplated in unison, in the context of the complete client journey. That’s not to say a monolithic solution needs to be implemented to solve all those challenges at once. But knowing the Client Experience end game will well inform the steps along the way, ensuring the distribution architecture train tracks actually meet in the middle (in the cloud, most likely).
Olmstead was recently speaking with an ambitious IM who was nearly simultaneously implementing client reporting, CRM, and sales enablement solutions. However, those projects were largely being executed within their own silos. It is understandable why this happens – organizational structure, the budgeting process, a need for expediency. But such an approach can too often result in missed client engagement synergies, perpetuation of organizational silos, and a quicker path to technical debt.
As the 2019 budgets and plans are being finalized, and the strategic Distribution projects are teed up, our suggestion is to make sure you are ready for change. We feel this holds true if you are only tackling one or taking on multiple of the client experience building block projects.
- Invest in the Data – Assess data readiness up front to identify the data potholes and landmines lurking in the project plan. Taking a closer look, these are data projects as much as they are reporting projects, and there is a high degree of data requirements overlap across the client journey initiatives. 25% -- that is the figure a leading client reporting vendor gave us when asked about the “data tax”, i.e., the inefficiency in an implementation caused by poor data. Put another way, being data ready will help ensure you are vendor ready.
- Assess your Business Readiness – In order to extract the full ROI from your sales, marketing, and servicing solutions, new workflows will need to be designed and roles and responsibilities tweaked in your operating model. For example, a CRM will become a transformative workflow centerpiece only if the integrated processes are clearly established. Or, the human capital implications of reducing data chasing and enabling more analytics need to be understood and planned for. These are just 2 examples of business readiness considerations.
- Define the Client Journey – and march towards it.
Planning strategically in these ways will help ensure you buy down your implementation risk, increase project efficiency, and build a Distribution architecture for growth.
Here’s to a successful 2019 and to truly making it the year of Elevating the Client Experience!