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Why all the signs point to the future of wealth management being digital

18th October 2021 Print

The wealth management business, like any other industry, is not immune from being the battlefield for disruptive forces. In this article, we’ll look at the trends that we have identified which hint that the future of wealth management is digital. 

But first; a recap of the current picture. The traditional wealth management sector, comprising private banking, family offices, financial advice and portfolio management services are often conducted in a face-to-face setting.

The personal attention of a banker or trusted adviser is seen as a differentiating factor that elevates the experience of a wealth management client above what they would experience with a high street bank or mainstream stockbroker. 

This personal setting drives the need for premium offices in urban areas, and therefore high overhead.

Here are the three trends which suggest that this may be about to change:

Society is becoming cashless

Cash transactions used to be the favourite payment method of British consumers until very recently. Cash transaction volumes topped 20 billion as recently as 2010. Recent research published by shows that this had fallen to less than 6 million by 2020. Cash lost its crown to debit card transactions (including contactless payments) in 2017 and shows no hope of returning to prominence.

With the arrival of digital payment mediums, we also wave goodbye to other archaic mediums such as paper receipts, monthly statements mailed in the post and savings books. 

Brochures and prospectuses for investments are now often shared as a pdf. This is convenient for the consumer, who can access it from their personal device at any time, but it also pleases the compliance teams of financial institutions who enjoy the ability to edit and update materials at any time. 

Wealth management and banking are therefore becoming entirely digital. No documents or books would need to even sit upon the desk of your favourite adviser. The only purpose of a meeting in the modern day is to have a good conversation - not to sign a document with a pen. 

In-person visits to banks are down

As a result of the younger generations using banking apps for 100% of their banking needs, bank branches are closing down at a rapid rate

In small communities with elderly populations, the rapid pace of banks disappearing from the high street is causing anxiety for those who worry they will lose access to critical banking services. 

This trend is filtering through to wealth managers, who are discovering that their consumers have now settled upon the idea that a relationship with a financial institution is not one that is managed through a physical office or branch. The expectation of a young consumer is that even complex financial services can be provided through a slick app interface, explanatory videos and ‘chat help’ if something goes wrong. 

Financial services advisory businesses are remote and digital, e.g. mortgage advice

When wealth managers look across the financial services sector at other companies such as mortgage advisors, they see the beginnings of a wave of change that could eventually reach their door. 

20 years ago, mortgage advice was delivered inside a bank or the office of an independent mortgage adviser. Mortgage advisers had a ‘local catchment area’ which was restricted by the willingness of their clients to travel a distance to join a meeting. 

Currently, the majority of mortgage advice is delivered over the phone. This has led to the nation-wide mortgage adviser who can work from home and service clients across the country. 

This is an opportunity as well as a threat. An adviser no longer needs to turn away work due to distance, but equally they need to compete much more fiercely for local business because it is now up for grabs at the national level. 

This has naturally led to the formation of large networks of mortgage advisers, and consolidation across the industry, as businesses compete on cost and efficiency.


So far, wealth management firms have upheld the practice of in-person meetings, which have quickly returned following the easing of pandemic restrictions. However, the successful meetings conducted over the phone during lockdown periods has proved to both client and adviser that what was once essential, is now just an added luxury.