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Service with a Side of Technology
November 2, 2021
Growing up, my small-town McDonald’s hosted birthday parties, had Ronald McDonald roaming the restaurant, and both delivered food to the table and removed it when you finished. Over time, of course, the parties and Ronald disappeared, and customers were left to become their own wait staff by filling drinks and bussing their own tables. For many industries, the decline of service and the co-opting of customers into part-time staff has dressed cost cutting up in the guise of flexibility, efficiency, and consumer choice; but it doesn’t have to be that way. At Sand Hill, our mission is to provide a high-touch, hands-on, customized client experience that acknowledges there are tremendous benefits to utilizing technology and empowering clients to act on their own, while still investing in invaluable human expertise and resources. In the coming months, we will be adopting, in partnership with our custodians, a number of straight-through-processing practices that will expedite the execution of client requests, ensure accuracy, and boost the security of client assets at rest and in transit. What we will not be striving for is reducing our investment and emphasis on the human part of our service offering.
From the introduction of the first automated teller machine (ATM) in 1969, until the founding of PayPal in 1998, there was very little technological improvement to the customer experience in financial services. With the emergence of the internet, however, an avalanche of useful tools was created—digital wallets, peer-to-peer money transfers, online stock trading, real-time bank and credit card services, high-yield savings accounts, and automated loan and mortgage offerings. The development of the smartphone made all of the aforementioned services mobile, easier to navigate with apps and, crucially, introduced security features like multi-factor authentication. The emergence of blockchain technology will surely result in additional advancements to the execution and security of financial transactions.
Sand Hill, for our part, intends to harness the best of these innovations and continues to be a strong proponent of enhancing our client experience with digital tools. The pandemic has taught us that a hybrid approach, that marries the convenience of technology with the solutions provided by our talented team, can deliver a tremendous client experience. Many of our clients have adopted Zoom to meet with their Wealth and Portfolio Managers, electronic signature with DocuSign, and accessing and sharing personal financial information through our online Client Center portal. Rather than consider digital tools as a replacement of our people, we look to technology as a robust supplement to our team’s efforts.
So, what comes next? We intend to drastically reduce custodian forms, replacing them with electronic approvals to move money and open accounts in minutes rather than days. The introduction of enhanced risk assessment software will better gauge for clients the opportunities and trade-offs within their portfolios. Additional features will be added to our Client Center, including increased collaborations with our clients’ professional teams. Providing clients with more real-time portfolio performance and asset allocation insights is on the horizon as well. Security will remain paramount, though we will look to fervently minimize the friction to our clients when accessing, reviewing, and verifying account information. Client adoption, of course, will not be mandatory as we continue to always place client preferences first, but we hope the increased speed, control, and transparency offered by digital solutions will prove too valuable to miss.
Client service, evolving solutions, and the adoption of technology will always remain cornerstones for Sand Hill. And while we have been grateful for the connectivity provided by technology, we too, have been missing the in-person interactions with our clients. As our electronic resources expand, we would still be thrilled to meet live with our clients and learn about how we can better serve their needs. And we promise, you won’t have to fix your own drink or clean up afterward.
Articles and Commentary
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