The importance of secure messaging in client relationships within the private client industry

By Jackie Breadner, Assistant Manager, Oak Group.

At the start of 2021, Elon Musk penned a simple message on social media that contributed to a mass exodus from one of the most popular communication platforms around.

After telling his followers to 'Use Signal,' the encrypted messaging app saw a surge in new users who had flocked to the platform amid privacy concerns linked to WhatsApp. It came shortly after the rival messaging service announced to its billions of users that they were updating their privacy policy, as well as sharing information with Facebook.

Founded by cryptographer Moxie Marlinspike, Signal prides itself on being an encrypted messaging platform whose central focus is security and privacy. The only personal data Signal stores is your phone number and it makes no attempt to link that to your identity. Despite initial teething problems, it continues to enjoy growing success as more users start to take focus of their security. The same happened with another messaging service called Telegram, which is also encrypted and reportedly saw 161 million downloads in the first four months of 2021. Both Signal and Telegram are free and can be used across virtually all devices.

Despite all of this, WhatsApp continues to grow in popularity around the world. However, this narrative brings into question how different modes of communication can be utilised by industries like the private client sector.

Communication is key to maintaining client relationships

Naturally, at the core of our sector is regular contact with our client base. To some degree, this came under the microscope in 2020 when the pandemic meant that travel was heavily restricted around the world. Particularly for industries like ours on the Isle of Man, the inability to pop to the City of London to squeeze in those important meetings meant that we were forced to identify creative alternatives for maintaining client communication.

The first step will usually be communicating by phone, but there is a growing sense that many clients now prefer digital communication rather than the more traditional calls. As a result, Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Google Hangouts became the norm as we tried to hold onto the personable aspect of the private client sector.

Many clients agree once lockdowns are lifted digital communication may also offer an alternative to physical meetings which not only reduces travel time and costs but also the carbon footprint.

While video messaging has been an easy way to keep in contact, remote video blunders and technical difficulties haven't gone amiss during the lockdown. Luckily, the private client sector wasn't really struck by such misfortune, but glitchy calls can negatively affect client experience if technology isn't up to scratch.

Should we start using encrypted messaging services?

Amid the backdrop of the pandemic that helped catapult digital communications platforms into the forefront, communication methods and the use of technology in the private sector will no doubt continue to evolve. Optimizing our communications platforms will always be important as more people move to remote work in the post-pandemic world.

Looking ahead, digital communications are also central in order to appeal to the next generation of clients who are more tech savvy than older generations. Younger investors are much more likely to shun traditional communication methods in order to maintain the best level of security and be at the forefront of embracing new technology available. With the option to record and send voice messages as well as group conversations over the platform, encrypted apps like Signal and Telegram also offer a middle ground between trying to schedule calls based around people's busy work days.

We're not hanging up the phone just yet!

According to Tech Crunch, the majority of WhatsApp users have accepted the updated terms and conditions and the platform continues to grow. However, with alternative digital comms being developed, the future of messaging is unlikely to be as monopolised as it previously had been.

Having said that, one thing that the pandemic has certainly taught us all is the importance of human interaction despite the growth of the digital age. Trying to strike a balance and ensure all of our communication is personable yet professional is always the goal and often tailored to a client's individual circumstances

What we need to look at now is preparing our communication models to ensure that we're at the forefront of digital communication. From considering scalability to factoring in worldwide access, there is a potential to look further into the benefits of WhatsApp's rivals. Far from just providing confidential avenues of communication, messaging services are here to stay and we should certainly be using them more to reach out to clients and nurture professional relationships.

By looking to invest in alternative digital communication we are demonstrating to clients that as a business we are committed to the highest level of security and technically advancing our business communication channels whilst continuing to strengthen client relations. Meeting clients' expectations and ensuring client satisfaction is key to moving our business forward in post covid era.


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