Deep Rooted Tree
100 Percent
Graj and Gustavsen


Worked with a leading asset management firm to transform wholesale client experience.


Project Overview

Project type: Group Project
Discipline: Service Design
Date: 10 months, full-time, Ongoing project
Role: Stakeholder research & analysis, persona development, workshop facilitation planning, service proposition, prototyping, and implementaion
Team: Vivian George, Xuelun Fu, Julia Rajnak
Mentor: Nick de Leon, Neal Stone

Project Brief

Over the last 9 months, I have been working on a consulting project for a leading Asset Management company with multi-trillion dollar asset under management. Our initial brief was to create new ways to serve the European wholesale client division, or B2b2c market. We have been working with the teams across the European market to explore how their needs have shifted based on their client’s evolving preferences and to propose an innovative suite of services that delivers more personalised, responsive and relevant content. With our client, we collectively prioritised the B2B segment because the pain points on information provision were clearly evident in this context.

I will omit the brand (client) to comply with the NDA.

What is Asset management?

Asset management firms make financial products and help corporates and investors to put their money in those products for good returns. Asset management firms like JP Morgan, Blackrock, Fidelity sell white-labelled funds to their wholesalers, which are the private banks like Barclay’s, HSBC and the private banks are the ones who sell the financial products to the high-net-worth individuals. Here is the typical example of how it works.
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We started our research with a wider scope so we could better understand the external pressures and constraints within the industry. From the emergence of robo platforms catering to a Generation Digital to the rise of the female investors. We also considered the impact of banking regulations like MiFID, which increases transparency on price & performance and mandated stringent reporting requirements. Our goal was to ensure the underlying trends and develop a deeper appreciation for the challenges that our client faces.


01 Regulation
Regulations like MIFFID II has impact meant to increase in transparency and reporting requirements resulting in an information overload, focusing on quantity and not relevancy of contents. In addition, transparency has meant clients can see the distribution of profits across the value chain putting pressure on price and costs.

02 Agile and flexible culture
There is a rising need to adopt a flexible infrastructure and agile approach to business in order to adapt to the continuously chaning market mechanisms.

03 Information complexity
Wholesale clients are having to simplify product information to varying degrees of complexity to cater to different knoledge levels of the high net worth investors.

04 Women Investor
Women investors are a new rising segment in asset management industry. They value personal goals, human-interaction, privacy, security, peer reviews and thematic funds such as ESG products. Their motivations, preference, and behaviour is completely different from existing customer segments.

05 Generation Digital
Generation D is an emerging and important investor segment of the market. The financial crash and the rise of digital and social channels have changed how consumers view the financial community and approach wealth management. Many Gen D investors perceive financial advisors as salespeople who push products that enrich their firms rather than their clients.

"We're about to hit an iceberg. Once our base of loyal eldery clients are gone; and we're left with picky millenials that have more options."
- Brokerage Investment Professional, Vanguard, July 2018

06 Internal siloes and collaboration
Internal silos and collaboration issues are impacting cross-selling opportunities and the delivery of the end-to-end client experience.

07 Slow implementation of technology
The technology used in the Asset Management Industry is outdated which is impacting the efficiency of internal processes has led to employees finding workarounds.

Looking at the evolving client needs, regulations and technologies suggest an urgent need for the Asset Management Firm to adapt to the rapid market changes.

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Value network map

Then we explored where our client fits within the end-to-end wholesale client experience. Part of my role as service designers is to cut through the complexity of the environment. So I mapped out the ecosystem and exchanged value between stakeholders.
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Persona overview

Then I identified key stakeholders across the value chain. By bringing a higher awareness of wholesale clients and customer (HNWI) needs, our client can help the wholesale clients to be more proactive and responsive for their clients.
01 End customer (High-Net-Worth Individuals)
The inter-generational transfer of wealth to the next generation investors combined with regulations, means that there is massive pressure on the wholesale clients. And to be effective in addressing end-customers needs, they have to be better informed with the right content that is easily deployable and be able to anticipate their potential concerns.

02 Wholesale Clients
Wholesale Clients, both Investment Managers and Fund Selectors, are currently receiving generic content that is mass marketed from our client. It’s too simple for the Fund selectors who are highly sophisticated and technical. On the other hand, it could be too complex for Investment Managers to explain the our client content as well as the strategies to their clients.

03 Our Client
A company like our client, with out-standing expertise in insight-driven analysis and research, has an opportunity here to help these wholesale clients through the provision of relevant and insightful information. However, with inner workings of our client, both marketing and sales face their own challenges. Client Advisors from Sales, are the client facing ambassadors who maintain relationships with wholesale clients and deliver marketing content. Client Advisors has information overload, where he receives way too much content and has to invest huge amount of effort in modifying it for his clients. We have seen interesting workarounds by a client advisor, where he creates his own key contact strategy to understand stakeholder engagement and how to communicate with them.

Marketing Associates, plays more of a supportive function by creating and orchestrating the content that John delivers to clients. When it comes to Sarah, the challenge at the moment is ad-hoc based work, especially when client advisors request content for important meetings at last-minute notice. Within larger regions like London, we see siloes that complicate information sharing. This siloed culture is reinforced by legacy CRM systems that hinder their work, which one of our interviewees saids “feeding the beast”.

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Journey Map

Based on interviews with our key stakeholders we mapped out process of human & digital interactions, behaviours, emotions, and painpoints within the current wholesale client experience in chronological order.
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Challenges & Opportunities

This leads us to challenges and opportunities. Due to regulations, our client has to be careful with the content they deliver to clients, so the idea of someone like Client Advisor, can modifying information is risky as there is no content control for compliance. What's interesting is the growing business need for personalisation. The challenge is that our client needs centralised and tailored content management system, so that Client Advisors can pick and choose the tailored content for his contacts. In order to achieve this, our client need a segmentation model of their clients and contacts so that Marketing can prepare the tailored content ahead of time for the various types of contacts. Which takes us to the fundamental question.

How might we help our client better understand and engage with their wholesale clients and contacts, so that they can provide relevant, insightful, proactive and responsive information?

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Our solution is a comprehensive marketing toolkit that delivers effective and tailored communication to the most valued wholesale clients by providing our client with a consistent model to help them categorize their clients and profile the individual contacts. This is so that marketing can then shape the messages to their interests, their preferred form of communication, as well as anticipate their potential needs utilising data analytics from tracking contacts’ interactions with websites and understanding the trends taking place within their wholesale clients or similar clients.

I will omit solution in detail to comply with NDA.

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