Your Guide to Optimizing Client Reporting

RIA and Broker-Dealer Operations

By Steve Hubbard

3-d wooden pie representing client reporting

Evolution of Client Reporting in the Digital Age

Until the innovation of mobile apps and online access, the monthly client statement was the key to keeping clients informed about what they owned and what activity had happened in their accounts. Outside of calling their advisor and asking questions, this was often their sole method of tracking their financial lives. Today, clients have real-time access to their account information online and on their mobile devices, turning the monthly statement into more of a reference document.  It is still useful when they want to know what they held at a certain month end, or what happened in the account several years ago, but it’s no longer what they use on a daily basis.

Despite the shift toward digital reporting, most firms are still sending out statements, whether online or in paper, that are nearly identical to what has been sent out for many years.  Online PDFs are merely digital versions of the paper copy. Updates have been made to keep pace with product changes and compliance evolution, but beyond that, the key elements have remained the same.  Partly, this is because there are regulations that govern what information needs to be on the official client statement; however, even with those constraints the issue is often that the firm does not have a strategy to align client needs with the capabilities of their reporting platform.  

If it has been a while since your firm last did an assessment of its overall reporting platform, you owe it to your advisors and your clients to make sure you are optimizing your use of what is available.

Review Your Current Configuration

The first step to optimizing your client reporting is to review what you are sending to your clients against the current capabilities of your reporting platform. Is your client reporting process keeping up with what today’s investors demand?  To maintain customer loyalty and satisfaction, wealth management clients need to see that what they receive is valuable information, tailored to their needs.  As you assess your current client reporting configuration, consider the following to help determine your options:

Differing Client Needs

Different clients want different levels of information, and they want to receive it in different ways.  Some clients still want to receive paper because it is tangible evidence of what they own. Others will only want to access their information via their mobile devices or through a client portal. Some may want the basics while others will want to drill down into their portfolio information.  

Client Experience

Is the information compliant and presented in an easy-to-use way, at the right frequency? Determine if there is supplementary information that clients may find useful that can also be included or sent at a prescribed cadence. Be aware, some clients may have special data visualization needs, such as older clients requiring a larger font.

Clearing Firm and Custodian Oversight

Review your clearing and custodian contracts to determine if you are getting the most out of your client reporting tools. Are you getting an optimized cost for delivery? You will also need to ensure that your reporting system is compliant with supervision requirements.  

Your Firm’s Growth Strategy

As you map out your firm’s growth plans, assess your future costs. If you are considering changing your client base, or you have new advisors bringing different client types to the firm, what reporting experience will they expect to have? As your firm grows, will your clearing firm or custodian be able to scale up with you and provide for your future needs at an optimal cost?

Client Reporting Options and Features to Consider

  • Hybrid reporting. A level of hybrid delivery is often possible, providing a relatively short quarterly or annual paper summary and moving the monthly report to online delivery.
  • Ad hoc reports. Advisors and their clients may desire ad hoc reports to focus on current portfolio characteristics, answer specific questions and show real-time trends.
  • Customization.  Every client has a preferred way of viewing their data. Some may want just the basics while others may want to see the basics periodically or as required, but also be able to drill down into their portfolio information.     
  • Consistency.  Monthly statements, performance reporting and online presentations of information all need to use the same terminology and have a consistent basis to avoid client confusion or loss of confidence.  It’s never good to have a client ask, “Which number is right?”  Ensure that the client reporting systems you are using are consistent in language, look, and feel for a better client experience.

Partnering for Success

Periodically reviewing your client reporting options as part of the overall client experience is an essential step in making sure that you understand how your clients interact with all parts of your firm.  Whether it is system selection, reviewing your configuration, or optimizing electronic delivery, right partner can help make sure that you are set up for success.  Oyster Consulting has the experience you need to get the most out of your clearing and custodian relationship. From customer interactions to financial reporting, these contracts influence critical aspects of your business. Our team of experts provides personalized guidance and support to help you maximize the value of your clearing and custodial partnerships. Our operations experts optimize your business functions so you can focus on your clients and plan for success.

About The Author
Photo of Steve Hubbard

Steve Hubbard

Steve Hubbard is a financial services industry professional with over 35 years of experience. He has extensive experience in all aspects of client reporting, advisor and client-facing systems, and advisory products and their delivery.