Key technology capabilities to future-proof wealth management
The wealth management industry is in the midst of significant change. COVID-19 has significantly altered the realities of everyday work. The expectations and preferences of investors have also changed in reaction to new technologies and their experience with financial crises. 1
Wealth managers are faced with the unique challenge of implementing capabilities and products to help their customers navigate these turbulent times. Technology leaders across the wealth sector must help by driving change, guiding their organizations and equipping wealth managers to meet the needs of their customers.
The key responsibilities of wealth technology (wealth-tech) leaders typically include2:
- Business innovation
- Business process improvement
- Cost and efficiency management
- IT systems and operations maintenance
- Cybersecurity management
To meet these directives and future-proof their business, wealth management firms need to improve their technological capabilities. It’s incumbent on their wealth-tech leaders to strive to close the gap between business expectations and the current capabilities of IT of their organization, including demonstrating to firm leaders that they must accept a greater dependence on their IT systems in order to digitalize business processes, implement big data and business intelligence, drive predictive analytics, and blur the distinction between traditional IT and the business.
Key technology capabilities to help future-proof wealth management:
- Enterprise architecture: The effective management of architectural standards, high levels of code and component reuse, driving standardization throughout the development life cycle, fewer integrations, and simpler architecture can all lead to lower operational costs and increased efficiencies rather than a collection of disjointed, siloed initiatives.
- Technological innovation: Pragmatic innovation is key to success, helping bridge the gap between IT and business priorities. However, it needs to be controlled, and leaders need to be careful to avoid experiments that don’t add any material value to the business.
- Business agility: Adopting an agile way of operating leads to the delivery of faster, cheaper services through more innovative, intuitive technology. Being agile means practising a group of delivery methods in which the business and its technology work together to deliver incremental value in short intervals to the stakeholder. This model revolves around adaptability, risk, transparency, and business value realization.
- Digital practices: To create a complete customer journey, organizations need to deliver products and services across digital channels as well as traditional ones. This may include a combination of mobile, social, analytics, cloud, and emerging exponentials, all of which help to facilitate user transactions and interactions. Digital platforms and services can allow retail investors and businesses to gain easy access to stock market information, financial advice, and investment opportunities, including digitalization initiatives.
- Intelligent business processes automation: Digital transformation works best when the business processes are streamlined, automated, and can meet increasing demand in a timely manner. Implementing robotic and intelligent automation technologies and tools can simplify business processes, reduce redundancies, reduce costs, and increase overall efficiency.
- Cloud: A cloud-based model gives organizations the flexibility to scale on demand, helping streamline the cost of IT infrastructure ownership. Cloud providers, due to their sheer scale, can also offer built-in resiliency for business continuity. Cloud integration means that the focus of technology operations shifts from infrastructure management to ensuring each service is available for the end user. The adoption of a cloud service delivery model also increases the need for a strong technology vendor management function with a good understanding of cloud service providers to ensure services are delivered as promised.
- Data analytics: Access to large volumes of data has led to the development of automated cognitive solutions that allow for the instant analysis of dozens of information sources, identifying patterns that can anticipate changes and threats. This enables faster and more effective decision-making. Building on analytics capabilities, like consolidated customer analytics, will help wealth management organizations identify and prioritize the digital opportunities that have the greatest impact on customer experience and business value. Wealth technology platforms should not only strive to accurately record, manage, and report transactional data, they should build consolidated dashboards and insights that can be used to improve the overall customer experience.
- Artificial intelligence (AI): AI can be used to invest smarter, evaluate the wealth market, and gather data on consumer behaviour. Popular automated services currently use algorithms and machine learning to offer investment advice and management to clients. Robo-advisors managed around US$1 trillion by 2020, and around US$4.6 trillion by 2022. Wealth managers can use AI to automatically research customer data and other data troves to help make effective decisions for their customers. AI can also be used to streamline end-to-end wealth processes by replacing human interventions, thereby reducing costs for the kinds of services offered by wealth businesses.
- Cybersecurity: Responding to cybersecurity requirements and managing security risks must be at the heart of everything. With wide-ranging digital channels, IT needs to provide secure access to information anytime, anywhere, and on any device. Organizations need to make sure the cyber risks associated with each technology solution is understood by all its people and that steps have been taken to protect the organization against these risks.
- Service operations management: Service operations should focus on the integration and interaction of technology across key service management processes. As more services come online, it is imperative that managers have a single integrated service desk (and single point of contact) for the wealth technology platforms that focuses on ensuring agreeable customer service, first-time fixes, and root cause analysis to resolve persistent incidents. The platforms should also embed a single integrated toolset to track and manage events, which will enable incidents and problems to have a clear history of resolution actions. This will allow an analysis of incidents in order to identify trends, and formal handoffs between different resolver groups.
There is more need than ever for wealth-tech teams to have skin in the game, and not serve as a sideline agency to traditional lines of business. It’s time for these teams to stand up and be accountable for business results. But to do this, organizations must have a clear understanding of their wealth-tech-enabled business model, needs, and priorities—and proceed accordingly.
Given the current market scenario, it’s important wealth-tech teams be nimble and innovate through minimum viable products, ones that test key assumptions about customer interactions and preferences with the product.
Recommended key performance indicators, customizable according to the maturity of the organization4 :
- Innovation: Percentage of innovative ideas proposed to and accepted by the business; percentage of innovative ideas turned into new products/services
- Maximizing ROI on IT investments: Average percent of return on investment of technology projects; technology spend against defined investment categories
- Improving IT cost effectiveness: Material cost savings delivered to the business through targeted technology spend
- Increasing portfolio execution confidence: Percentage of projects delivered on time, to budget, and of good quality—resource plan, utilization, and forecast against demand
- Enhancing control of IT: Percentage of solutions aligned with enterprise architecture
- Optimizing services: Percentage of changes focused on the improvement of operational processes and services
- Increasing customer satisfaction: Percentage of incidents fixed after first call to the service desk; availability across applications categorized as business-critical; amount of incidents classified as security-related
- Improving data quality: Percentage of accounts with incomplete or missing data; average database availability time
Emerging technologies will continue to disrupt the business-as-usual mindset and reshape the future of wealth management. Technology is changing at a fast pace, making adaptation on fly hard—but wealth-tech leaders need to figure out how to keep pace, while also ensuring they meet their key responsibilities in order to future-proof the organization.
Senior Manager, Consulting
- Deloitte, 10 Disruptive trends in Wealth Management
- Deloitte, Global CIO Survey - Navigating Legacy
- Business Insider, Evolution of Robo-Advising
- Deloitte, Technology Capability Model 2.0