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For Fifth Third Private Bank's Customers, Technology Is a Major Asset

July 29, 2016

Fifth Third Private Bank simplifies financial complexities by going digital.

Consumer spending accounts for some 70% of the U.S. economy, but the definition of “consumer” is much wider than someone who spends money at a website or a brick-and-mortar store. Service providers have customers, too, even if they aren’t necessarily purchasing three-dimensional products. In fact, more than two-thirds of personal spending in the U.S. is on services – housing, healthcare, financial services and such – and not on things you can buy at a store and hold in your hand.

Fifth Third Private Bank, based in Cincinnati, Ohio, with about $26 billion in assets under management, counts as its clients individuals and families who have hired it to manage their wealth. Because the private bank’s advice concerns investments, estate planning and the client’s balance sheet, among other things, it takes years to evaluate that counsel fairly. In the absence of something more immediate, the customer experience – a smooth, seamless, and holistic one – becomes paramount.

To that end, Fifth Third Private Bank took its Life360 consultation platform digital in 2015 with a website/app intended to continue its mission to “simplify financial complexity for our clients,” says Phil McHugh, the private bank’s president. Before Life360 went digital, clients trying to plan their finances needed to collect financial statements across all of their providers, at least annually but preferably more often, to ensure their plan was on track and to make any necessary adjustments. Inertia or delay often stopped the most well-intentioned of clients in their tracks. “Now, our Life360 platform allows a client to enter – securely – his or her provider information once, and then with a few clicks, get and share their up-to-date financial picture, at any time, on any day,” McHugh says. “This allows both them and their advisor to maintain or adjust their plans for their goals. It’s simplicity in a situation that is otherwise complex and labor-intensive.”

Life360’s bells and whistles are key. For example, “the portal updates assets and liabilities, and accounts for a client’s net worth, daily,” McHugh says.

Life360 is customized for the private bank from a standard vendor platform. “This way, the client has a great deal of flexibility. They can use Life360 for scenario planning and cash-flow analysis. Say they just had a baby, and she’s already showing signs she’s really smart. How do they save for Harvard? Or it can help a client see how long they will have to work to achieve a retirement savings goal, and factor in the client’s company match and projected investment returns.” McHugh says “we can help clients meet their needs, collaborate with them to identify their dreams and goals, then work together to build a plan to reach and exceed their goals.”

In the first few months, hundreds of clients signed on to the digital experience, representing some $7 billion of client assets. And the clients are using Life360 in perhaps unexpected ways. One aspect of the portal is called “The Vault,” a sort-of virtual safety-deposit box, as McHugh terms it. “Our clients can put information in there and share it in a very secure way with their advisory team,” he says. Wills are among these items, of course. But McHugh tells the story of a grandmother who took photographs of various pieces of jewelry and posted them into The Vault with instructions as to which of her granddaughters is to receive which pieces of jewelry.

“The Vault allows us to broaden our knowledge about what’s important to our clients, and see how we can better connect from an emotional standpoint” with them, McHugh says. “It is a way to get to understand their values and goals, what motivates them, how they feel about money, how others in their family feel about money, how they want to pass these things on, and what they want to leave for charity. It helps us build out their plan, execute it, then monitor it and keep them on track.”

For more insights on how technology is changing the customer experience, read the whitepaper, The Tie That Binds.

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