By Abbey Shasore, CEO, Factbook.
Is your client reporting merely a ‘box’ at the end of the investment lifecycle that requires a tick for completion? Or is it just one element in a much greater sphere of influence that includes client service, marketing, performance and even compliance? Is your reporting a two-way street – offering tools where clients can interrogate their data – where the focus is on engagement and not just delivery? Do you offer room for feedback in your client reporting process – eliciting preferences on the data being presented and the presentation format, or are you still sending out printed documents and offering no opportunity to the client for subsequent engagement?
Much has changed in the world of client reporting. The days when a hearty lunch or a hefty pack of performance papers once cut the mustard are long gone. A segment of the investment management industry is now transitioning to more of a ‘self-service’ model where client reporting is intrinsic to the relationship management process.
Here we outline three ways you can tell if client reporting is truly at the heart of your client experience.
- Self-service – the data you want, when you want it?
There are clear moves within the investment management industry toward self-service. The objective here is that the client can access the desired data as and when they need to, rather than relying solely on the traditional monthly or quarterly cycles. There are other benefits to self-service: investors can drill down into the data in the areas of most interest or concern, as opposed to having no options in the interrogation of reporting data. You should look at this concept differently. Think of it as giving your investor clients what they need rather solely what you want to give them.
- Relationship – does the reporting form part of the client relationship?
Within many investment management firms, client reporting is still handled by a separate team from client servicing. This in and of itself is not necessarily a problem, so long as there is a feedback mechanism that captures the client’s preferences and concerns in the client servicing arena and filters this through to the client reporting team – and vice versa.
Client reporting is perhaps the most important aspect of the client-investment manager relationship, after investment performance, so these two disciplines of reporting and servicing need to be seamless. This is reflective of a shift in attitude toward client reporting, with it no longer being simply a step at the end of the investment lifecycle but rather being a part of an ongoing dialogue.
- Automation – taking the strain?
Automation should play an active part in the reporting process, freeing up time for client servicing teams to do more value added work and getting them away from manual processes involving multiple layers of spreadsheets. If over 50% of your client servicing team’s time is taken up with number crunching rather than relationship management, your reporting is unlikely to be at the heart of your client servicing.
Investment reporting should be integral to the entire client relationship, but some firms are still paying lip service to what appears to be a wonderful concept.