Encouraging push back if client centricity is unclear

Jack Ma, the founder of e-commerce giant Alibaba and officially the richest man in China, is credited to have said: “Forget about your competitors, just focus on your customers”.

In recent conversations with our clients within the investment management industry we have witnessed, not surprisingly, a slow but steady shift of mentality and attitude, and consequently strategies, from product to costumer centricity.

Costumer, or investor, centricity is not a new concept and building an appreciation and understanding of the customer is an ongoing focus for asset managers.
Even for those who have been in our industry for just a few years, I am sure the “our clients come first” mantra have come up in countless conversations.

However, what we are experiencing recently is a more concerted effort in companies to adopt an increasingly holistic and horizontal approach to strategic planning and execution to understand their impact on the wider client journey.

Greater investment and allocation of budget is being directed towards client research and insight. Further, internal challenges are being welcomed, with all teams routinely being asked to demonstrate client benefits e.g., in the marketing plans.

However, there seems to still be frustration at the way information around clients are communicated and shared within the business and consequent need for mindset shift around the accountability for and access to this insight on an ongoing basis.

Data and insight sharing seems to be the toughest challenge in becoming a customer-centric business and embracing customer communication solutions that aggregate data seamlessly is important. In some cases, client's feedback, perception, need and opportunity are being formalised in proper programmes and channels. But some groups are still working with anecdotal feedback rather than formalised insight.

Senior management’s role in building client centricity as a core value within their organisations is paramount as it creates consistency, ownership and accountability. Encouraging and empowering employees to share ideas and contribute to the overall goal is essential to make employees feel like they are part of the bigger picture. And here comes Marketing.

Marketing teams have a key role to play in partnering with the C-suite and collaborating closely with sales and other stakeholders within their organisation to shape industry culture around customer centricity, help their organisations to reposition themselves in line with a rapidly evolving environment and respond to clients’ concerns in a personalised and timely manner.

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