Overcoming the Crisis: Future Trends in Wealth and Asset Management

New trends are pushing wealth and asset management firms into becoming digital-first businesses offering clients immersive digital experiences and real-time support, together with more personalized products and services. The industry will also rethink their environmental, social and corporate governance investments, pushing sustainability to the forefront of their priorities. 

To shed light on how these shifts will transform the industry, ThoughtLab is conducting a multi-client research program titled Wealth and Asset Management 4.0. We asked experts and sponsors of the study to offer their perspectives on how the pandemic has affected investor behaviors and preferences, trends in the industry, and the implications for their businesses.
 

How is your firm rethinking its strategies, processes, communication, and business models to succeed in a digital-first world? How are you leveraging AI, cloud, blockchain, and other latest technologies?  

Joe Norburn, CEO, Recordsure: Wealth and asset management firms should be focused on utilizing the latest advances in Machine Learning and AI to support their operations. Strategically thought-out implementation of AI analytics and RegTech tools deliver significant business benefits – address key pressure points, manage risks, and offer business efficiencies at scale. 

Manish Moorjani, Senior Director Product Management, PublicisSapient: Shortening time to market for new tools and features and early validation through A/B testing enables firms to stay competitive and provide value to end clients. Sentiment analysis of media and news for investment decision making is also valuable, by leveraging AI and Cloud capabilities. Another best practice is adopting best in breed products and platforms for order execution and accounting and focusing on the firm’s strength. 

 

How is the nature and location of work likely to change in the years ahead? How will employee experiences and process change, particularly for financial advisors? 

Mike Park, CEO, TCC Group: Healthy organizational culture plays a prominent role in delivering commercial success. Being forced to move away from traditional office working opened fresh opportunities to utilize digital communication channels, reduce business travel and offer greater flexibility to the way we work. With many employees enjoying the advantages of increased flexibility, a hybrid way of working is expected to be the future – yet it is poised to bring new challenges. Less direct contact between employees on a daily basis could potentially increase conduct risk due to the decreased opportunity to directly observe behaviors. Processes that worked in the office or in a short-term wholly virtual environment may not be sustainable for a hybrid future. Focusing on culture and the desired behaviors of employees will help firms successfully manage the operational shift ahead. 

 

Which regulatory and tax trends are having the biggest impact on your business? How will your firm adapt its strategies, systems, and services to meet client needs, while staying compliant?  

Chiara Gelmini, Solutions Marketing Lead, Appway: We learn from our customers that Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing (AML/CTF) are going to be major focus areas in the regulatory compliance domain, specifically thinking of the due diligence impacts on CLM practices. It’s the ‘Era of the KYX’, aka Know Your ‘Everything’ 

KYC (Know Your Customer) it’s going to require more and more attention and dedicated resources as well tools, with WM’s SMEs proximity to client facing functions being a crucial aspect to fix.  

A growing focus around KYT (Know Your Transaction), with more stringent requirements arising across jurisdictions and demanding dynamic, collaborative and informed approvals and RFI and EDD orchestration.  

KYI (Know Your Investment), with increasingly blurry lines between KYC and suitability profiling, it is now time for more conscious and thorough understanding of client’s investment goals and decisions. All tying into ESG and rising social responsibility. 

Overall, compliance officers are seeing further pressure and cost coming into their operations to mitigate new challenges – continuing the trend of being asked to do more with lessThe ‘holy grail’ is improving efficiency and agility, while reducing TCO – and this is possible with the right combination of tools, but the effort should not be underestimated.
 

Joe Norburn, CEO, Recordsure: To help organizations drive operational resilience and stronger compliance, the implementation of AI-driven RegTech tools should feature as the key priority on the technology strategy roadmap. Compliance monitoring across recorded conversations and case file documentation truly sets firms apart as it provides the ability to cover every interaction, spoken and written, between firms and their clients. Introducing the right RegTech solution also means cost savings as less time is spent on administrative tasks and files reviews, improved risk management, more insights and better client outcomes. 

 

How far will organizations need to go to incorporate ESG into their business strategies? Will that involve new investment products? Better analytical tools? Greater public-private partnerships? Other? 

Sabrina Bailey, Global Head of Wealth Management, Refinitiv: In the past, the prevailing mindset was that ESG investing was no more than corporate altruism.  This perception has steadily changed, with investors increasingly viewing ESG investing as central to their investing strategies and wealth firms differentiating their services using ESG criteria. This trend is set to continue, and we expect ESG-related considerations to have ongoing and ever-greater implications for the wealth industry. We see tremendous opportunity in offering access to complete data that is transparent, granular and standardized.  There is also an urgent need for detailed analytics to deliver actionable insights with intuitive visualization that helps market participants make sense of data.  Furthermore, ongoing education will remain crucial as investors continue to define what good governance looks like. 

Olivia Fahy, Head of Culture, TCC Group: Firms need to fully embed ESG considerations into their strategies rather than treating ESG as an add-on. Purpose can be an excellent driver for ESG considerations as it helps organizations determine how they provide social value and embed practices that support this throughout the business. Focusing on driving a healthy and purposeful organizational culture will incorporate many considerations that fall under the ESG acronym. With organizations coming under more pressure from clients, employees and investors to demonstrate robust ESG strategies, future-oriented firms are already incorporating ESG into their organizational culture to their advantage. 

 

What lies ahead: Wealth 4.0 

What are the biggest opportunities and challenges that lie ahead for your organization?  What will be the impact of demographic, regulatory, digital, competitive, and economic shifts? 

Olivia Fahy, Head of Culture, TCC Group: Firms are facing social and environmental challenges, such as the need to break barriers around diversity and inclusion and make progress in relation to climate change and sustainability. Such challenges can generate new opportunities, providing firms with the chance to positively impact the world, drive change, and make a real difference for the future. Implementing these kinds of changes requires culture change, an ambitious yet gratifying task. Culture transformation leads to strategic advantages, better treatment of employees and clients, and a more sustainable business.    

Joe Norburn, CEO, Recordsure: One of the biggest challenges for firms is to ensure continuity and to be prepared for the unexpected. Wealth and asset management firms have the unique opportunity to better their operational excellence by implementing new technologies such as RegTech. Technologies and AI do not replace people but make them more efficient at what they do by focusing on priorities. RegTech offers unique monitoring and reviews that help address key pressure points and compliance, mitigate risks, and deliver cost-efficiencies. 

 

What will the wealth and asset management industry look like in five years? What advice would you give to wealth management firms to ensure their place in tomorrow’s new marketplace? 

Mike Park, CEO, TCC Group: Employees, clients and investors are increasingly expecting wealth and asset management firms to be more purposeful and responsible. Firms need to listen and act on these expectations, or risk people voting with their feet. By focusing on culture with the same level of importance as business strategy, firms can drive the right behaviors, do the right thing, add social value, and ensure their place in the future. 

Sabrina Bailey, Global Head of Wealth Management, Refinitiv: Obviously digital transformation is crucial. However, it’s important to remember that the investor should always come first. The future of the investment and wealth management industry being about digital and human elements coming together. Trust will continue to be the cornerstone of strong relationships and will continue to be supported by robust, and evolving, digital tools that drive rich human connection.

Joe Norburn, CEO, Recordsure: The wealth and asset management industry is facing new exciting times of transformation. The incredible advances in the wealth technology solutions available are already paving the way for operational resilience and stronger compliance. Firms that deliver high-quality advice to their clients, coupled with rich and engaging well-monitored technology, will be incredibly successful over the coming years.