Jerry Wallis, Head of Industry, SS&C Blue Prism
There is a new type of investor, impacting every business touch point within wealth management organisations. They’re young, tech savvy and demanding better digital experiences, lower fees and a more active role in sustainability when building out their portfolios. Consequently, the wealth management industry is changing to meet the growing needs of this evolution, addressing investment strategies, channels of engagement and cost controls.
And as wealth and asset managers offer wider ranges of investment choices that directly appeal to this new generation of investor, tighter regulations are also forcing firms to elevate their governance processes to manage risk appropriately and protect customers.
This change is also reflected in the way the wealth and asset management industry pitches itself to prospective employees who want more client-focused priorities, and less repetitive paper shuffling that requires human intervention.
For wealth and asset managers, clients and employees alike, a super-charged digital business transformation using intelligent automation (IA) – business process management (BPM), robotic process automation (RPA), artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) – has huge benefits when retaining or developing new revenue streams.
Using digital workers – intelligent software robots programmed to complete specific processes people shouldn’t have to do – working hand-in-hand with your people, can help deliver results from improving data to make better decisions, enhancing process flows, and enabling more accurate auditability.
Latest wealth industry thinking confirms this, as – according to ThoughtLab – organisations embracing digital transformation have seen an increase in productivity (13.8%), assets under management (8.1%) and revenue (7.7%). Many financial companies are already starting their journey with IA.
To help businesses in the wealth management sector achieve competitive advantage through IA, SS&C Blue Prism have developed a three-step roadmap to success.
- Providing a personalised experience
Not only are investors now expecting lower fees, they’re also increasingly likely to switch to a different wealth and asset management firm to secure better returns and enjoy frictionless access to information across channels. Trust is a key factor for investors when selecting a wealth manager to invest their funds, which can be gained by delivering a first-class customer experience.The variety of benefits that wealth and asset managers, and their customers’ experience with IA stands as a testament to the improvements that can be realised throughout the entire lifecycle of investor-related processes.
- Faster, more secure and accurate investor onboarding
- Allocating a diverse range of assets with better insights into potential profitability
- Providing clients with greater access and visibility into their portfolio performance
- Delivering total accuracy every time with calculations and monthly statements
For Giovanni Gentile, managing director, automation for State Street Bank and Trust, seamless client access to information across multiple automated platforms is a must. “If your customers trust you and believe in what you’re doing, and you provide them with the services that they’re asking for, you’re going to have a win-win situation, and that’s what automation is really doing for us. It’s allowing us to streamline our operations, improve our velocity… getting information to our customers that’s accurate and time sensitive.”
2. Importance of regulatory compliance
Wealth and asset management is a heavily data-driven industry. Successful companies use automated, real-time reporting and valuations, by collating and extracting data from structured and unstructured sources entering into multiple platforms, whether white-labeled third-party or legacy in-house systems.
Extracting and inputting data are core elements of hundreds of processes, including those relating to risk, compliance, reporting and reconciliation. Quite simply, a digital workforce can replicate the work of an employee once it’s trained on the exact data that needs to be sourced and extracted, then update the form, report, system, or communication.
Regulators across the world are rapidly introducing stricter guidance to prevent mis-selling, poor performance and security breaches. Organisations breaking the rules can expect to suffer reputational damage and face financial penalties. IA records decision-making processes and digital worker actions at a keystroke level, which simplifies auditing and frees employees to spend more time to focus on client facing tasks. It also empowers users to collaborate with digital workers in complex workflows that require manual intervention or cooperation.
3. IA investment decisions
There’s no substitute for an experienced expert or research team, but changes in the sector mean even the most skilled employees struggle to keep track of the rapidly expanding range of market intelligence and investment opportunities. As more retail investors take hybrid approaches to portfolios, expecting to see alpha-generating opportunities from complex alternative investments, augmented investment decision-making matters.
To meet the need for personalised portfolios while operating quickly and accurately in rapidly changing markets, automated processes that harness the power of IA allow wealth managers to accurately digitise, classify and extract information from structured, semi and unstructured documents, making it easier to spot trends and correlations to achieve deeper analysis and gain more valuable insights.
By integrating IA into the investment decision process, you can also create far more accurate investment projection models. According to Schroders, “Automation has enabled us to provide faster and more accurate investment decisions, leading to improved investment performance and higher returns for clients. This has improved client satisfaction and retention, enabling Schroders to maintain a strong market position.”
Forward thinking – implementing IA across your organization
There are varying approaches taken by wealth management companies when scaling IA, and there’s a clear balance to be struck between tactical, siloed adoption at one end of the scale and full-blown digital transformation at the other. Tactical task-based adoption can engender a culture of individual yet limited change that’s difficult to monitor, govern and orchestrate.
Few processes are completely stand-alone and have an impact on adjacent workflows when they’re eventually updated. Where wealth firms begin depends on several factors, including senior management buy-in and commitment to adopting automation across the organisation.
This will drive decisions about which platform and skills best fit your needs, whether that’s a centralised or federalised approach, as well as determining the budget available for an IA program. A centralised approach involves a central team or centre of excellence that governs activities and orchestration for different processes. This will benefit organisations who have a cultural appetite for intelligent ‘automated first’ strategies. Wealth and asset management that have already adopted IA are already reaping the benefits for both their clients and employees.