U.S. Markets closed

SEI Study: Use of Digital Communication Tools on the Rise Among World's Wealthy

OAKS, PA--(Marketwire - Jan 16, 2013) -  According to a study released today by SEI ( NASDAQ : SEIC ), Scorpio Partnership, and Standard Chartered Private Bank, the world's up-and-coming wealthy are not only adopting new technologies, but acutely understand how digital communication tools can enhance experiences. "The Futurewealth Report: Stepping into the Communication Age," surveyed 3,477 respondents globally with an average $1.9 million in assets and shows how vitally important it is for financial professionals to connect with clients through many different channels. However, according to the findings, digital tools are not a replacement for time spent face to face, but rather a supplement that will enable wealth managers to enhance personal connections.

"The second Futurewealth report reinforces the important role technology plays in the communication habits of the wealthy," said Al West, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of SEI. "These studies show us which communication tools the wealthy are using, how they are using them, in what capacity, and importantly, how wealth managers need to adapt and evolve to meet their expectations."

The study reveals that individuals on the fast track to considerable wealth will continue to utilize various types of communication tools. Thirty-five percent of respondents expect to use email, the internet, social networking, and instant messaging "much more" in five years' time. Comparatively, just over a quarter (26 percent) expect to increase their use of traditional channels (face-to-face meetings, written communications, and telephone calls) over the next five years. Digital tools will not replace more traditional approaches, but serve as added channels, especially among those with $4 million or more. Individuals with less than $500,000 reported they will soon rely mainly on the internet and email. The result: advisors serving both the emerging wealthy and high-net-worth groups must adapt to digital tools.

"The world's wealthy have a strong appetite for technological advancements, despite security concerns and lack of true personal connection," said Al Chiaradonna, Senior Vice President of SEI's Global Wealth Platform. "This group will continue to integrate digital tools into their communication habits, including how they interact with their wealth services providers, and they expect institutions to follow suit. Long-term success in this industry will hinge on delivering a scalable, multi-channel communication strategy with security and privacy safeguards that meet with client expectations. Companies that provide that type of client experience will truly take command of the market."

The report also examines why the futurewealthy expect to increase digital communication usage. Respondents cited efficiency, ease of access, connectivity, flexibility, and value for their money among its benefits. The majority of respondents (70 percent) appreciated that social networking "connects with multiple people" and half (51 percent) associated it with "ease of use." However, respondents also reported most digital channels lack personal touch and carry perceived security risks: only one in five (18 percent) associated "security" with social networking.

Conversely, the study found traditional communication methods have particular advantages. Face-to-face meetings rated well in visual contact (81 percent) and personal touch (78 percent); nearly two-thirds (62 percent) associated "security" with these meetings, more than any type of digital communication.

"This study proves that advisors should not ignore the evolving communication habits and preferences of the wealthy," said Kevin Crowe, Head of Solutions, SEI Advisor Network. "Advisors need to be knowledgeable with the latest digital tools if they wish to connect with these individuals, but they cannot overlook the value more traditional approaches provide in enhancing and strengthening client relationships. The futurewealthy expect relationships to encompass both traditional and emerging communication tools, and while they value the personal touch and security of face-to-face, written, and telephone interactions, these alone are not enough to fully satisfy them."

This report is the second in a four-part series delving into the findings of the Futurewealth Project, which aims to better understand the ambitions and consumer attitudes of the world's up-and-coming wealthy. Each report focuses on a different theme around how technology and digital communications can be used to engage the next generation of wealthy. The remaining two reports will be published in the first half of this year. For more information, please visit http://www.seic.com/enUS/about/11078.htm.

About SEI's Global Wealth Platform
SEI's Global Wealth Platform (GWP) is an outsourcing solution for wealth managers encompassing wealth processing services and wealth management programs, combined with business process expertise. With GWP, SEI provides wealth management organizations with the infrastructure, operations, and administrative support necessary to capitalize on their strategic objectives in a constantly shifting market. GWP supports trading and transactions on 101 stock exchanges in 57 countries and 33 currencies, through the use of straight-through processing and a single operating infrastructure environment. For more information, visit http://www.seic.com/enUS/private-banks.htm.

About The SEI Advisor Network
The SEI Advisor Network provides financial advisors with turnkey wealth management services through outsourced investment strategies, administration and technology platforms, and practice management programs. It is through these services that SEI helps advisors save time, grow revenues, and differentiate themselves in the market. With a history of financial strength, stability, and transparency, the SEI Advisor Network has been serving the independent financial advisor market for more than 16 years, has over 4,900 advisors who work with SEI, and $32.5 billion in advisors' assets under management (as of Sept. 30, 2012). The SEI Advisor Network is a strategic business unit of SEI. For more information, visit www.seic.com/advisors.

About SEI
SEI ( NASDAQ : SEIC ) is a leading global provider of investment processing, fund processing, and investment management business outsourcing solutions that help corporations, financial institutions, financial advisors, and ultra-high-net-worth families create and manage wealth. As of September 30, 2012, through its subsidiaries and partnerships in which the company has a significant interest, SEI manages or administers $448 billion in mutual fund and pooled or separately managed assets, including $195 billion in assets under management and $253 billion in client assets under administration. For more information, visit www.seic.com.