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Residential Investor

What do high-net-worth individuals look for in a financial services provider?

It’s fair to say that now is an exciting, if challenging, time for the UK financial services sector. The market is moving at a rapid pace as new technologies and challenger startups arrive on the scene seemingly every day. To retain a competitive edge, service providers need to stay on top of the latest market trends, ensuring they remain responsive to the changing demands of their clients.  

As the number of challenger banks and lenders has increased, the need for providers to offer a high standard of customer service has become vital. This is something we understand intuitively at Butterfield Mortgages Limited (BML), because we exclusively cater to the needs of high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs). 

Delving further into this topic, we were keen to discover exactly what were the priorities of HNWIs when it came to choosing a financial provider. To achieve this, BML recently commissioned research among 550 HNWIs based in the UK. The results were enlightening: 78% said the quality of customer care that a business offered was a “key consideration” when choosing a company to work with or buy from.

So, how can service providers keep HNWIs happy? According to BML’s study, almost two-thirds (64%) of HNWIs said they were willing to pay more in fees or even achieve lower returns on an investment if a financial service provider could offer a higher quality of customer care.

Having worked with UK HNWIs for decades, I know how important a high-quality service is to them. Exactly what this means, however, is determined by the preferences of the individual. Still, there are a few concerns that are largely ubiquitous among the wealthy and ultra-wealthy: confidentiality, attention and social responsibility.

When it comes to personal finances, discretion is almost always a desirable trait, and our research shows this is especially important to HNWIs. Three out of four (74%) rated the guarantee of confidentiality as either “important” or “very important”. 

Financial service providers must be willing to undertake all the necessary steps to assure both current and prospective clients that confidentiality is a top priority. Where matters such as safeguarding online data are concerned, this naturally demands adequate resources being invested into online security systems. 

HNWIs have high expectations for customer care, and this is usually reflected in the high premiums they pay for more personalised services. It’s incumbent upon providers who charge these fees to consistently offer a bespoke service. Primarily, this means being responsive to their clients’ needs. Indeed, 63% of UK HNWIs we surveyed have changed providers in the past two years because they did not feel they were receiving a high enough level of attention. 

Residential Investor

About Alpa Bhakta

Alpa Bhakta

Alpa Bhakta is Chief Executive Officer of Butterfield Mortgages Ltd. With more than 20 years’ experience in the world of high net worth (HNW) property finance in the UK, Alpa is uniquely well-placed to oversee BML as a stand-alone mortgage lender, with a focus on prime property lending. Before joining Butterfield, Alpa headed the private property finance team at BNP Paribas Fortis, following positions at Credit Agricole Indosuez private bank and NatWest. Her expertise in this field is unrivalled and makes her a much-respected senior figure in the industry. She has recently been short-listed for the 2018 Citywealth Powerwomen awards.

Articles by Alpa Bhakta

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