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    The role of relationship managers in the post-pandemic world

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    The role of relationship managers in the post-pandemic world

    Perspectives from the Ecosystem: A series of Q&A with Lombard Odier’s Ecosystem1 of Strategic Alliances

    There is no doubt that the outbreak of the pandemic caused disruptions on a global scale, and many sectors, including the wealth management industry, were not spared. In order to curb the spread of the pandemic, governments initiated travel restrictions and imposed social distancing measures, which diminished face-to-face communication, posing challenges to wealth managers due to the high-touch nature of their business.

    At a time when physical connections were radically curtailed, we saw an acceleration in the shift towards digitalisation as banks turned towards technological tools and solutions. This allowed relationship managers (RMs) to continue maintaining their engagement and rapport with existing and potential clients.

    Nevertheless, the human touch continues to be a cornerstone of a successful client-banker relationship, which hinges on emotions and trust built upon physical interactions

    Nevertheless, the human touch continues to be a cornerstone of a successful client-banker relationship, which hinges on emotions and trust built upon physical interactions. In our Ultra High-Net-Worth Individuals (UHNWI) Study conducted two years ago in 2020 during the peak of the pandemic, 81% of the respondents said they expected more digital and less physical human interactions, whilst 87% said that a bank's degree of digitalisation will matter going forward. This shows that clients expect a mix of both physical and digital interactions.

    Today, as the world transitions from viewing the coronavirus as pandemic to endemic, there is no doubt that the wealth management industry is in a better position. How has the role of relationship managers evolved? Read on as our ecosystem of Strategic Alliances weigh in.

     

    Retaining the human touch while riding the wave of digitisation

    In the Philippines, the digitisation wave, which was ongoing for many years, has advanced even more rapidly since the start of the pandemic. For the Phillipines' UnionBank, the focus is on integrating technology and digitisation into their proposition, while retaining the physical aspect of banking relationships with clients.

    Arlene Joan T. Agustin, Senior Vice-President, Private Banking Group Head, UnionBank of the Philippines commented, “The future of the wealth management sector is digital transformation and the need to digitise became all the more prominent when the pandemic started."

    “However, this does not mean RMs and physical interaction with clients will become obsolete and marginalised in the post-pandemic world. Ultra high-net-worth clients still require face-to-face interactions with someone they know and trust, especially for large transactions and complex needs that simply cannot be serviced via a digital channel."

    At the same time, technology is viewed as a useful tool to aid RMs in enhancing their relevance and productivity in client servicing.

    At the same time, technology is viewed as a useful tool to aid RMs in enhancing their relevance and productivity in client servicing

    “Besides client portals and wealth management apps, which allow for scalability and enhance a client's experience by allowing them to monitor and manage their investment portfolios on-the-go, back-end digital dashboards and platforms will also help RMs provide even better data-driven customer servicing," added Arlene.

     

    Expert guidance and open communication to navigate overwhelming information

    In Thailand, the role of RMs is seen as one that provides expert advice and the right guidance on distilling an overwhelming barrage of information and navigating post-pandemic uncertainties in today's world. According to Jirawat Supornpaibul, Private Banking Group Head from KASIKORNBANK Thailand, RMs are no longer just a bridge that channels information between the bank and their clients – clients are looking to them for their ability to interpret the information and data given to them, form opinions and respond quickly with the right solutions. Interpersonal skills are also important attributes, given how the pandemic limits social interactions.

    In addition, clients are now open to looking beyond just profit and numbers. “Another interesting perspective is that the pandemic makes people more aware of other aspects of wealth management that go beyond investment returns. Clients are looking for solutions to help them navigate market uncertainties, search for alternative investment and business opportunities, and place more importance on family wealth planning. Private bankers should be able to provide these comprehensive service solutions too," he commented.

    Read to find out top 3 factors investors look out for in private banking

     

    Crisis management and solutions are critical attributes of RMs in post-pandemic world

    In the Taiwanese market, it is evident that investors look towards their RMs for their value-add in providing critical solutions to navigate today's volatile world.

    Based on observations made by Taipei Fubon Bank, investors have even higher expectations of RMs in the post-pandemic era. Having been through bouts of extreme market volatility due to the Covid crisis, investors are more critical of crisis management and the competence of their banks and RMs in managing their portfolios. This includes the ability of RMs to anticipate and warn of potential market volatility, provide asset preservation solutions and propose contingency plans for different scenarios.

    “Given this new environment, providing every RM with the support of a complete team of experts and full range of solutions will enhance their capabilities and further earn the trust of their clients," according to Taipei Fubon Bank.

     

    The importance of human relationships powered by cutting-edge technology

    At Lombard Odier, we believe in the importance of human relationships whilst leveraging on the power of technology to deepen our client relationships

    At Lombard Odier, we believe in the importance of human relationships whilst leveraging on the power of technology to deepen our client relationships. Our long tradition of innovation in developing secure, powerful banking tools further empowers us to do so. In this time and age where technology is a given, we also believe in focussing on and investing in the right talent, to maintain the human connection and value-add to our relationship with clients.

    Read to find out how Lombard Odier supports clients in uncertain times

    Vincent Magnenat, Limited Partner and CEO, Asia, Lombard Odier commented, “At Lombard Odier, we are ahead of the curve with our technology platform - and are using this advantage to stay close to clients. Nonetheless, we remain cognisant that the quality of the advice and service is what makes the difference in the end, and having cutting-edge technology facilitates the ability to remain close to our clients."

    “Thus, we continuously invest and develop our relationship managers, to ensure that they have the right skillsets and tools to deliver the right advice and insights to our clients. Ultimately, the adoption of digital solutions will vary from client to client, and as a relationship manager, understanding your clients and their needs and preferences will enable you to journey with them for the long term."

     

    1 A unique model in Asia, Lombard Odier's Strategic Alliance Ecosystem brings the bank's investment and family services expertise together with that of the leading local financial institutions in the region to holistically serve the wealth management requirements of entrepreneurs and families. Clients are offered a tailored level of excellence to satisfy both their local and international private banking and investment needs.

     

     

    Important information

    This document is issued by Bank Lombard Odier & Co Ltd or an entity of the Group (hereinafter “Lombard Odier”). It is not intended for distribution, publication, or use in any jurisdiction where such distribution, publication, or use would be unlawful, nor is it aimed at any person or entity to whom it would be unlawful to address such a document. This document was not prepared by the Financial Research Department of Lombard Odier.

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