Service and Infrastructure Considerations for Serving the High-Net-Worth Market

Kathryn Swain


Kathryn Swain of Pershing’s Financial Solutions Group outlines how those firms that invest in the tools to truly understanding the complex needs of their high-net-worth clients are the ones seeing success with this investor segment. More details can be found in What Wealth Wants: Refining Your Firm’s Approach to the High-Net-Worth Market.

Video Transcript

High-net-worth investors have very complex financial needs. By association, the firms that serve these clients have very complex businesses to run.

These firms need to customize solutions and offer access to more exclusive investment vehicles. They also have to provide—or at least coordinate—expertise around estate issues, taxes and other matters. And, at the same time, they are expected to deliver a more elegant, flawless, client experience that is responsive to their every need.

In our experience, the firms that excel in the high-net-worth market spend a lot of time learning about their clients and gaining a truly intimate understanding of them. The goal is to anticipate. To offer a solution before the client is even aware that a need exists. You can’t reach that level of proactivity (some advisors call it mind-reading) without relying on very sophisticated tools for client service and for managing financial information.

Let’s start with service. We see that firms perform best when they have an integrated approach that makes smart use of technology. First, they are ready to communicate through whatever channel the client prefers. Phone, text, email, face-to-face—it’s up to the firm to integrate these platforms so that the team is always very accessible.

Also, high-net-worth clients expect to ask for things once—to get action quickly and without errors. Even if the request is somewhat usual or complicated. By the way, this means the firm has to provide options even if the client asks for services that aren’t offered. This means having well-vetted experts who can step in to help and then, of course, coordinating the work of these experts, making sure the client is satisfied. Not surprisingly, firms often invest in robust CRM systems that accurately capture client requests, identify who will spearhead responses and get the right resources into play swiftly.

On the investments side, we know that high-net-worth clients have very diverse holdings. Often these holdings are unique and illiquid, and they might be held by several different custodians. This kind of diversity really complicates portfolio monitoring and transacting, particularly since the advisor might not have direct oversight of certain holdings.

These high-net-worth firms will use standard stock management technologies to the degree they can. But, ultimately, they rely on more sophisticated tools so that they can customize for each client and stem the tide of manual processes.

At the crossroads of investments and service is ensuring that clients can get a real-time view of their holdings. This is where certain firms really differentiate themselves. They take advantage of systems that let clients see the value of holdings and rates of return. They offer other systems for clients to see their balance sheets and bill payments.

As with client interactions, the goal is to ensure that investors enjoy an exceptional experience and can access information and expertise in the ways they prefer.

The firms that invest time in understanding their clients very well, and that invest money in the tools that keep information of all kinds flowing and well organized, are those that we see having the greatest success among the very wealthiest clients.

Kathryn Swain

Kathryn Swain is a Director for Pershing, a BNY Mellon company, where she leads the Wealth Solutions and Investor Communications teams within the Global Strategy & Product Management Group for Pershing. Her teams develop solutions that help Pershing clients differentiate themselves in the marketplace, grow their business and meet investor needs. She has an enterprise focus on key initiatives that produce programs, such as sophisticated liquidity strategies and philanthropic solutions, to meet the demands of the high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth markets.