Oct 04, 2022

Have you ever asked yourself whether your client portal is good? How about just good enough?

A lot of the firms we talk with have a feeling that their portal is lacking in some way, but they are often unsure what to do about it. Additionally, firms experience difficulty in getting clarity around whether the client portal experience they offer clients aligns with industry standards or if they’re missing out on major functionality. Sometimes, firms simply have older portals and want to know whether they are keeping up with the latest technology and industry trends or falling behind their peers.

Since I started benchmarking digital portals for wealth clients in 2016, and due to Cutter’s work with a variety of asset and wealth management firms, I’ve seen many client portals. Some are OK — functional, maybe a bit outdated, but overall, still serve their purpose. A few are great — offering truly innovative client experiences, high levels of interactivity and self-service, and leveraging the latest technology to build out use cases like onboarding. But more than a few portals are still pretty bad and serve neither the clients nor the firm. They lack basic functionality, contain multiple pain points, and suffer from poor design.

Criteria for a Successful Client Portal

So how does one go from an “F” to an “A”? At Cutter, we look at three key points. If you’re doing the following three things well, you likely have built a portal that works well for you and your clients:

1. Content

Ultimately, the bulk of your client portal’s success comes from offering the features and functionality that clients need and, moreover, what they want. But successful client portals go beyond that and ask, “What will clients want in the future?” A-grade firms treat the portal as a place to innovate and develop new use cases and user journeys.

2. Design

While functionality is important, this alone won’t determine a portal’s success. The portal’s look and feel plays an equally critical role. While a strong design may go unnoticed, bad design can create friction, frustration, and ultimately cause clients to abandon the portal. Well-designed portals blend into the background of the user’s experience, subtly personalizing the client journey and nudging them toward their goals.

3. Usability

The overall usability of key client journeys is the ultimate marker of portal’s success. Usability refers to how efficient and useful key client journeys are within a portal — for instance, how smooth the onboarding journey goes for new clients. Even if a portal offers top-of-the-line content and cutting-edge design, this ultimately won’t matter if the user gets frustrated with a specific journey and aborts the process midway.

Of course, the content and design will change based on the target client segment. For example, portals for clients at the mass affluent or lower end of the HNW spectrum will need different types of financial planning tools and calculators than portals that serve the UHNW client segment or the institutional investor. However, once you narrow down the user personas for your portal, assessing a portal along these three dimensions gives you a holistic understanding of its strengths and weaknesses.

Ready to Jump-Start Your Client Portal?

Because firms want to know the following three things …

  1. How does my client portal stack up against industry standards?
  2. How does my client portal align with best practices?
  3. How can I improve my client portal?

… we’ve launched a new Client Portal Assessment service to address those needs. Based on our extensive knowledge of client portals for asset and wealth management firms, we’ve built a quantitative scorecard that allows us to assess your portal across 100-plus different criteria covering content and design. We then evaluate the usability based on five key user journeys and highlight pain points. Cutter can adapt this assessment to wealth or institutional clients and modify it based on the client segments served, various user personas, or to take into account regionally specific portal functionality.

You’ll receive a solid understanding of your portal’s strengths as well as a set of concrete recommendations on ways to improve it. Lastly, firms can use this current-state assessment as a catalyst to jump-start your portal redesign roadmap. We can help you understand where your portal is headed and get you thinking about building a client portal that will continue to work to your firm’s advantage well into the future.