The wealth management industry has, in the past, been accused of making what it does seem unnecessarily complicated.
It’s easy to see why these criticisms have been made - there’s a lot of complex jargon used, and many asset management firms have websites that Bletchley Park’s code-breakers would struggle to decipher.
I don’t believe that this is being done deliberately, and I would argue that the increased use of data visualisation tools in wealth management is an attempt to make the industry more transparent.
After all, a picture is worth a thousand words, and this is particularly true when it comes to communicating complicated topics and trends.
The vast majority of the world’s financial institutions have cottoned on to the fact that big data offers a significant competitive advantage.
But with this big data comes big problems - there’s simply so much of it that it becomes very difficult to find the right data and communicate it clearly to the people who need it.
This is why data visualisation has become so important in the world of financial services, with its inherent complexity and fast-moving nature - it’s our chance to help clients understand what we are trying to say.
But apart from a handful of shining examples that I have seen - such as Blackrock and Vanguard - data visualisation is generally done very poorly in the wealth management industry.
Too often, raw data is taken and turned into tables, graphs or pie charts, without much thought beyond simply creating a visual asset.
There is a distinct lack of creativity in asset management. This isn’t surprising, given that most people in the business have been studying finance, rather than arts and humanities.
There are a few people with marketing backgrounds, but they often end up bogged down by compliance issues and managing wider outreach strategies, with no time to focus on bringing life to fund factsheets and client reports.
The result is that the way data is displayed is often very unimaginative, failing to inspire its audience or attract new customers. And the with the focus on creating visuals, we all too often forget the value of words. Subjects that we intended to make clearer become even more obscure, missing vital contextual detail.
So how can we unlock creativity in wealth management in order to create better data visualisations?
Well, one thing that could work would be to hire more creatives. There’s a real need for more talented storytellers who can bring raw data to life and find the right words to make it very clear to your investors the value you provide for them.
However, effective data visualisation needs to be part of a wider digital transformation strategy. It’s all very well bringing in the right people, but they need to have the right platforms and tools to use in order to offer clients a service that really stands out.
Obviously this will require a significant investment, but it’s no good having a website that looks like it was - and might as well have been - created in the 20th Century.
Asset management is changing and firms need to adapt to this if they want to drive higher levels of engagement and asset growth.
There needs to be a push to harness all of the data the fund managers have at their disposal, then package and present it in a way that best serves the client.
Front and centre should be the website, with personalised fund factsheets and client reports generated through the same platform, using real-time data.
Spearheading the presentation of the data should be the creatives, not the number-crunchers. Hard-hitting visuals that are immediately understandable, backed with clear concise messaging is the key to satisfying clients.
Investing in creative people and the appropriate technologies to achieve this will have a clear ROI for those who get it right.
Mash Patel is the chief executive at digital marketing fintech firm Kurtosys