A GRAT may sound like a character from a Dr. Seuss book, but in reality, it is a great estate planning tool for clients withread more
The Opportunity for Expanded Client Offerings and Technology Solutions
As the realities of the coronavirus pandemic settle in for the business community, conventional wisdom is forming that the operating environment will be forever changed. While it is likely true for financial services generally, and wealth management specifically, that things will never be the same again, the virus and the social distancing response is actually serving as confirmation to the industry, and Sand Hill, that the path we were already pursuing—embracing new technology, expanding service offerings, and re-imagining the client experience—was the right one. Rather than causing disruption, the opportunity to serve you better is the driving force behind our continued investment in technology.
Just like the rest of society, the financial services industry is rapidly adjusting to its new normal. As a whole, Sand Hill and the industry were ready for the shelter-in-place orders after a decade of investment in cloud computing and remote workforce capabilities. Today, most wealth management firms run almost entirely in the cloud with web-based software applications, virtual infrastructure, and mobile accessibility. The great strides in security, such as identity management and encryption, have also allowed firms to move further away from on-premise software and physical servers. Edge computing, which brings processing power and data storage nearer the user and accelerates the speed of increasingly complex hosted software applications, will likely be the biggest benefactor of enhanced investment as firms look to chop down network latency time and conquer bandwidth challenges.
Much has been written in recent years about the role of technology in trading, with quants, algorithmic strategies, and high frequency trading garnering a great deal of press. Quietly though, financial planning has also quickened its pace in recent times as advisors have turned to robust scenario, or Monte Carlo, software packages in place of long-term static and simplistic plans. Rather than ‘set and forget’ strategies, financial plans and investment strategies for clients can now be updated in near real-time and incorporate developing portfolio, balance sheet, income, and cash flow needs to make better decisions in times of distress. For retirees, small business owners, and those with concentrated portfolios, financial planning software has granted them and their advisors the ability to formulate a response to the evolving circumstances caused by COVID-19. Moving forward, planning tools will likely continue their upward climb in sophistication with an increasing emphasis on measurements of risk, stress testing of portfolios, and a more thorough understanding of asset correlations.
Perhaps no part of the wealth management industry has changed as much as the client experience and interaction between client and advisor in recent days. Traffic in most major cities had already been eating away at in-person meetings, but in this environment, clients and advisors alike have found the convenience and connectivity of Zoom and other video meeting tools to be hugely beneficial. Even the commercials currently airing on TV, of the couple walking into a glass-walled office, already seem outdated in just the last month. But this experience—in markets and society—has revealed the importance of human connection. Post-crisis, expect more digital, but not less personal, solutions that allow for frequent interactions with less frictions such as webinars, video statements, and shared computer screen sessions. These will become more prevalent and serve to deepen the mutual understanding between clients and their Wealth Manager.
At Sand Hill, we have anticipated many of these changes and have invested and will continue to invest in the most robust technology and solutions our industry has to offer. We have embraced innovation over the course of our nearly 40-year history and we remain deeply committed to adapting and evolving in these challenging times to provide our clients with the best experience possible.
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