Single and multi-family offices, wealth managers, and accounting firms all strive to achieve a common goal: exceed client expectations. A superior client experience helps retain valuable high-net-worth (HNW) clientele and creates a competitive differentiator. While most firms offer a variety of services, today’s HNW clients are looking for more financial transparency and come with elevated expectations.
The Great Wealth Transfer has flooded the market with a new generation of ultra-high-net-worth (UHNW) clients. According to Tate Henshaw, co-founder at Arc Business Management, these clients are young, tech-savvy, and want more from their trusted advisors. It’s no longer about just offering the services you can but about offering those you should.
To up the “sticky factor” firms need to be a step ahead. They must anticipate client needs by presenting value-added services before clients have to ask—services like bill pay.
Mastering the art of anticipating your clients' needs
According to Henshaw, “When you’re thinking of what you should do instead of what you can do, you anticipate what your clients will need. With that vision, you can source the necessary technologies or partnerships to make it a reality.”
You know what’s best for your clients in wealth and business management. Applying this insight enables you to be proactive with service offerings. And bill pay is a good example.
Most HNW clients are too busy to focus on day-to-day financial tasks—they’re traveling, in the studio or conference rooms, creating, inventing, and concentrating on their passions. Knowing this, why not take the onus of bill pay off their plates, giving them peace of mind that bills are being paid on time and records are current and accurate?
“No one likes paying bills, but it’s important. And it can be done in a near-frictionless manner with automated AP technology like BILL. Bill pay is a foundational service for us. We don’t lead with it, but it increases our client stickiness,” explained Henshaw.
According to Henshaw, his clients have experienced significant relief by handing bill pay to his skilled team. It’s one more area where clients rely on their advisors’ expertise to handle business.
Henshaw added: “We establish ourselves as the expert across the services we provide—a percentage return on a piece of artwork, depreciation recaps, or KPI analysis. The problem is that the client doesn’t always understand what we’re talking about. But most do understand that they used to pay bills and now they don’t have to…they know it’s being taken care of and they have complete visibility into the process.”
Proactively offering bill pay services puts your firm one step ahead of the competition. It also helps increase stickiness and further strengthens the client-advisor relationship.
“It’s a vital step to stay ahead of the competition and strengthen client retention,” confirmed Henshaw.
Even better, offering bill pay is easier than you might think.
Using technology and partnerships to improve client stickiness
To offer bill pay services, you don’t have to do the work in-house (if you don’t want to). For some firms, this can be overwhelming, considering the long list of wealth and business management services they already provide. But, for firms that want to offer bill pay, implementing the right technology makes all the difference.
Henshaw’s has been processing bill payments for clients for over 15 years and has experienced numerous challenges due to a lack of technology suited to the task. Without that technology, he was forced to maintain records on multiple spreadsheets and use paper checks. It was a highly manual process that offered little to no transparency and came with an elevated risk of human error.
“When you consider the number of entities single and multi-family offices and wealth managers handle for clients, the process wasn’t efficient, transparent, or a source of truth for AP,” recalled Henshaw. “With all the emailing of spreadsheets, there was always the risk of working off an old version.”
After living through the pain of complex, manual processes long enough, Arc adopted BILL and soon realized the immense value of working within automated and agile workflows. BILL also provided full transparency into data for clients and staff, which was a major issue before solution adoption.
According to Henshaw, BILL supports workflow customization via the ability to set rules—further elevating process efficiency. “If a client wants every bill over $5,000 to be reviewed by their manager, their manager will automatically be included and notified when a bill is ready for them.”
Not ready to take bill pay on yourself?
While BILL easily supports client bill pay services, not every firm is ready or willing to take it on. Henshaw suggests finding a trusted partner to outsource bill pay work in these cases. It’s a win-win. The client can turn to a partner to handle bill pay tasks while the firm gets credit for alleviating the pain of it.
Henshaw asserts that it’s time to stop thinking in terms of only what your firm can do…and move into the should do. It certainly worked for his firm.
“We [the profession] often focus on what can be accomplished. It’s logical to think through resources and technology and ask: “What makes sense to do now?” But at the same time, that may be limiting your potential or overlooking viable options such as partnerships.”
A clear path to increasing client retention
There was a time in the profession when bill pay was a service to be avoided. The manual nature of tracking and paying bills was a nightmare—time-consuming, headache-provoking, and laden with potential human error.
However, with today’s advanced bill pay solutions that fully automate bill pay workflows, offer full visibility into financial data, and provide the mobile convenience HNW clients crave, it’s quickly become a service to be marketed.
Whether you rely on powerful technology like BILL to support bill pay services in-firm with your own dedicated staff or outsource it to a trusted party, it’s an option your clients will appreciate. Just one more service layer to keep clients in full ‘sticky mode’ and elevate your firm to the vanguard of the wealth and business management profession.
Want to learn more about how BILL can automate AP, helping increase margins and service value across your organization? Check out these additional resources.