McKinsey’s Vision of Wealth Management in 2030

The coronavirus will accelerate the changes to the wealth management industry predicted by McKinsey & Co.

It’s hard to think about how any business will be operating in 10 years when coronavirus is so dramatically disrupting our daily lives, and the economies and markets around the world. Advisors are already strained answering many more calls from clients. If the crisis continues for months, some advisors won’t be able to survive sustained reductions in portfolios that will cause dramatic drops in AUM revenue.

Yet for those advisory firms that endure the storm, planning for the long term, as most advisors tell their clients to do, will position themselves in a business that was expected to undergo significant changes even before the coronavirus hit. A McKinsey & Co. report, “On the cusp of change: North American wealth management in 2030,” provides many ideas on what may be in store and how advisory firms will want to refocus their businesses. Some trends in the report, released in January, will accelerate as consumers adjust to the longer-term impacts that the COVID-19 crisis created.

According to the report, in 2030 the wealth management industry will offer hyper-personalized advice that is much more goal-based than it is today. The number of clients will grow at unprecedented rates, with a handful of very large wealth managers attempting to serve “everyone” and the rest providing “exclusive” service to high-net-worth clients. About half of advisors across all channels in wealth management will be women and 40% will be minorities, up from 33% and 20%, respectively, today, the report predicts, and advisors will be more like life coaches than investment managers.

On March 20, I interviewed two of the report’s co-authors, Jill Zucker, a McKinsey senior partner who runs the firm’s New York office and previously led its wealth management practice in North America, and Vlad Golyk, an associate partner in New York who conducts surveys of the wealth management industry. Although Zucker and Golyk said they hadn’t assessed how the coronavirus would affect their findings, their views of the long-term prospects for wealth management are still very relevant and insightful. (McKinsey has published some other research about how the coronavirus is affecting the wealth management industry in Asia, as well as other pieces on how to provide leadership during the crisis.)

The report predicts that most new wealth management clients, “will want to access advice in a Netflix-style model – that is, data-driven, hyper-personalized, continuous, and, potentially, by subscription.”

“We really mean thinking about an audience of one,” Zucker said. “Marketers have really begun to narrow their focus and think about offerings that are very personalized for each individual consumer, and we are seeing that across industries. We believe that will come to wealth management.” She added in-person advice won’t disappear; more than 80% of clients still want advice delivered by a human, at least part of the time.