Alpa Bhakta (pictured) is chief executive at Butterfield Mortgages Limited
When it comes to meeting the needs of high net-worth individuals (HNWIs), there are few things more important than the quality of customer care. Particularly at a time when the financial services sector is undergoing significant changes—largely as a result of the proliferation of new technologies, the rise of challenger banks, and the introduction of new lenders—businesses in this industry must ensure they are evolving to meet the changing demands of the market.
At Butterfield Mortgages Limited (BML), we recently sought to uncover how important customer care is for the wealthy and ultra-wealthy when choosing a financial services provider. The research, conducted amongst more than 550 UK-based HNWIs painted a very clear picture; namely, that HNWIs highly value the delivery of a first-class service, and are willing to pay extra for it.
Over three-quarters (78%) of those surveyed by BML said that the quality of customer service is a “key consideration” for them when choosing a business to work with. What then determines high-quality customer service? And how can service providers, be it bridging lenders or high street banks, ensure they are meeting the evolving demands of the wealthy and ultra-wealthy? Based on BML’s research, there are three considerations that cannot be overlooked.
HNWI clients demand attention
The demand for personalised services simply cannot be overlooked, as a lack of attention or complacency has the potential to push new clients away or damage long-term relationships. According to BML’s research, three in five (63%) UK HNWIs have changed providers in the past two years for this very reason.
In terms of practical implications, this means building a rapport with a client from the outset of the relationship, and nurturing this in the long-term. Hereafter, effective and consistent communication must be maintained throughout the relationship so that providers are adequately positioned to respond to clients’ specific needs as and when they arise.
Confidentiality is key
Of all of the factors influencing the decisions of HNWIs, confidentiality ranks highly. Indeed, three-quarters (74%) of respondents from the BML survey said that discretion and confidentiality were either “important” or “very important” when it comes to engaging with a provider.
To build trust with a client and encourage their loyalty, financial services providers must approach client confidentiality as a priority. This means taking the necessary steps to ensure that full discretion is maintained when dealing with their private data.
What might not have been so important to investors in days gone by is now a priority for many. Today, while ethical investing means different things to different people, making a positive impact is a consideration that plays on the minds of a significant number of HNWIs when considering different finance opportunities.
Indeed, BML’s survey revealed that 74% of respondents—the same number that prioritise confidentiality—are conscious of the social, ethical and environmental impact of their financial choices. This naturally translates into what financial service providers they choose to manage or advise on their investments.
Given the growing importance placed on investing responsibly, service providers would therefore do well to acknowledge the relevance of environmental, social and governance factors in investment decision making and offer options that their clients would feel confident in pursuing.
Overall, BML’s research demonstrates just how important customer service is for HNWIs, and how it can influence with whom they decide to form relationships. For this reason, I would encourage all businesses to assess their current standard of customer service and find ways to adapt to the changing demands of their HNWI clients. Above all else, this can be achieved through the delivery of a personal service built on trust, transparency and commitment.