Remote working conditions have significantly hastened digital adoption by financial firms. The challenge now is to scale digital for digital transformation to meet the evolving needs of customers for both today and tomorrow.

The main barrier to true digital transformation lies in spending too much – time and money – to manage dozens of outdated and expensive technology systems. These systems are often poorly integrated, requiring “swivel chair” workflows and workarounds, and don’t provide information flexibly. Instead, a complete solution will not only serve all business requirements – it will also do so on a single, integrated platform.

A great deal of a financial services professionals’ time is spent searching for information, re-creating documents and manually trying to derive business intelligence. This distracts from focusing on the highest-value activities that client-facing professionals can provide: delighting existing clients to optimally retain them, focusing on growing the business by obtaining new clients and operating in an increasingly operationally efficient manner. Integrating and mastering data for a single version of the integrated truth means business intelligence can be automated, ensuring financial professionals can work fewer hours, but deliver better value.

Client retention is crucial—it is far cheaper to keep a client than to replace one. That is why client management applications are so vital. But many firms settle for incomplete solutions based on horizontal CRM systems, and are thus weak on relationship management, only focusing on sales pipelines. At the same time, client expectations of engagement and experiences have far outgrown what many financial firms can provide.

Any true digital transformation must overhaul the client experience to make it completely intuitive, involved and individual. This can only be done by providing a single, coherent and holistic experience through one digital platform, providing full client lifecycle management functionality. For clients, this combination endears a greater sense of loyalty while increasing engagement—a true win-win.

If client retention is the top priority, then client acquisition is a close second. Front-line financial staff are often involved with marketing and lead generation through to account opening and funding. But they often don’t have the time necessary to dedicate to these activities.

A large portion of this work can be automated. The focus should be on ensuring financial professionals prioritize value-add activities, so that they can focus on developing and nurturing their client relationships.

Research, data analysis and answering simple client queries all take up a great deal of time. And it only gets worse if these tools and systems are spread across different platforms or functions. Again, automation is crucial—but the real benefits only occur when staff have to work off of a unified platform, making their day-to-day tasks easier, and allowing them to spend less time on the mundane.

Understanding your clients is essential. But in-depth knowledge takes a great deal of time to develop, spanning from months to years. Behavioral science delivered in a digital-first environment offers a way to speed up this process, ensuring that financial firms can have a greater understanding of clients beyond persona segmentation and instead truly know them as individuals. When delivered via a single platform, these insights can become instantly actionable, without having to translate them across other systems and functions.

Finance is a knowledge and information based industry. But a huge amount of the job, especially in client-facing roles, comes through experience, learning to know the right questions to ask. Working via a single platform allows knowledge to be better disseminated throughout the business without any barriers. Anyone who needs to know, gets to know. This in turn makes developing talent easier; staff can get up to speed rapidly, and knowledge is democratically shared across the entire business.

Any digital implementation must be hyper-modular by nature. A one-size-fits-all offering makes it incredibly hard to address precise business needs. The key is to take a design-first approach to ensure long-term usability. And crucially, it needs to be rooted in New Think—a guiding principle that leverages a holistic view of technology’s role in the business, beyond code and IT infrastructure.

While many firms have undertaken a degree of digital transformation over the past two years, much still needs to be done. Centralizing business operations on one platform opens up many benefits—but only if you have the right technology partner by your side.

InvestCloud is a global company headquartered in Los Angeles that specializes in the digital transformation of the financial industry. From a single digital platform, InvestCloud supports over 20 million accounts and over $6 trillion in assets for investors in over 40 countries worldwide.

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