August 02, 2011 10:00 ET

SEI Report: Nearly 2 Out of 3 Investors Say Wealth Management Industry Struggles to Demonstrate 'Empathy'

Research Points to Implementation of Company Best Practices and Industry-Wide Standards as a Solution

OAKS, PA--(Marketwire - Aug 2, 2011) - While wealth managers have long referred to the wealth management industry as a "relationship business," the majority of investors disagree, feeling that their needs are anything but central to the service they receive. According to research released today by SEI (NASDAQ: SEIC), 62 percent of investors polled believe the wealth management industry inadequately delivers "empathy" -- the term used in the report to measure wealth managers' ability to provide clients with a personal relationship.

The findings are part of the latest SEI global study, titled The Relationship Business: Expect the Unexpected, which explores whether actual client experiences match what wealth managers claim to provide. While most of the wealth management firms and half of the private clients polled agree on the definition of empathy -- defining it as wealth managers listening, understanding, and delivering their clients' needs -- the actual client experience provided by wealth managers often does not meet this standard.

"Undeniably, there is much work to be done in the banking industry in order to restore clients' faith in the ability of wealth managers to listen and meet their needs. Trust will only be restored when firms recognize that investors judge client service on their personal relationships with their wealth manager, in addition to the culture, ethics, and overall behavior of the firm," said Jim Morris, Senior Vice President for SEI's Global Wealth Services. "This research provides a tool wealth management firms can use to evaluate necessary behavioral changes at the individual wealth manager, organizational, and industry levels. Only through change can wealth management firms hope to boost investor confidence in the 'relationship business' and deepen their client relationships."

The research also points to developing company best practices and industry-wide standards as a viable way to ensure that clients feel their individual needs are a primary concern. When asked how wealth management firms can best achieve empathy, both clients and wealth managers consistently focused on four key themes: enhanced client profiling, enhanced relationship management skills, improved communications, and client-centric compensation policies.

According to the study, investors have decreasing confidence in the ability of wealth management firms to put investors' interests at the center of their business. Recently, many wealth management firms have intently focused on implementing client-centric models, understanding that executing in-depth client review meetings and discussions (40 percent of wealth managers) and exhibiting positive behavior and ethics (23 percent of wealth managers) are important factors in delivering empathy.

The Relationship Business: Expect the Unexpected is the fourth paper in a series of five topic-of-interest papers exploring the changing relationships between wealth managers and clients. The findings are the result of in-depth interviews comparing the views of 250 private clients and wealth management providers, including banks, independent trust companies, and investment advisors. For a full version of the report, published by SEI in collaboration with Scorpio Partnership, please visit

About SEI's Global Wealth Services
SEI's Global Wealth Services is an outsourcing solution for wealth managers encompassing wealth processing services and wealth management programs, coupled with business process expertise. The integrated offering aims to provide wealth management organizations the infrastructure, operations and administrative support necessary to capitalize on their strategic objectives in a constantly shifting market.

About SEI
SEI (NASDAQ: SEIC) is a leading global provider of investment processing, fund processing, and investment management business outsourcing solutions that help corporations, financial institutions, financial advisors, and ultra-high-net-worth families create and manage wealth. As of June 30, 2011, through its subsidiaries and partnerships in which the company has a significant interest, SEI manages or administers $430 billion in mutual fund and pooled assets or separately managed assets, including $180 billion in assets under management and $250 billion in client assets under administration. For more information, visit

Contact Information

  • Company Contact:
    Dana Grosser
    +1 610-676-2459
    Email Contact

    Media Contact:
    Alex Dalgliesh
    Braithwaite Communications
    +1 215-564-3200 x116
    Email Contact