Expert: William Rouse, Wealth Dynamix. Facilitator: Alison Ebbage
- Innovation can only happen when firms understand all the various journeys, truly know what their clients want, and then innovate to improve.
- Firms need to be able to react quickly and compress their response time cycle so as to be agile
- This requires cultural change to make sure a firm can change direction and be nimble and agile in its efforts towards innovation
What is innovation and how can we get there?
But at the same time, the regulator can be a driver for change as their decisions affect the whole market.
There is often a cultural challenge to go through to have an innovation mindset - all the more so when there is an attachment to legacy systems and embedded processes well-used by both employees and clients alike.
For that reason, a specific, autonomous team is a good idea. They then ‘own’ it and are free to create positive change. This can be hard in a big organisation as programmes operate on an annual cycle, whereas innovation can be risk-taking on a smaller cycle.
Driving change also requires buy-in from clients – which is why many organisations employ a client feedback loop into all change programmes. This is based on a cross-section of client segments. It monitors and records how changes are received, and makes changes where sentiment is not positive.
Key focus areas for future proofing are:
- Removing legacy systems
- Technology and digital
- Understanding and enabling clients
- Supporting the relationship manager
Removing legacy systems
Replacing legacy systems is particularly difficult and time intensive. It feels hard because it is so embedded within current workflows and processes. In the process, firms have ended up with too many people doing manual tasks. Reducing the cost of running the firm is a key consideration and refocusing people on more important tasks, rather than reducing headcount, is the strategy to do this. Fostering a culture of innovation is key to this endeavour.
Technology and digital - is this at a strategic level within the business?
There is some way to go in building to this level, but it is something that needs to happen for future success. Sometimes there is a history of not building, not experimenting, not taking risks. Having a separate team that has the remit to do that and enabling the team and accepting that this will mean some disruption to the business for the long term good is a key enabler.
Understanding and enabling clients
The next gen will be essential to the future success of a wealth manager. They will expect everything at the push of a button – they want self-service, and are comfortable with a digital relationship. They also want an omnichannel experience, self-service with access to an advisor and hyper-personalisation. The technology needs to deliver a real-time report and other insights and they will want their advisers to be proactive in providing this.
Supporting the relationship manager - hiring is a challenge
The importance of the cloud?
The cloud allows for agility, responsiveness, cost optimization, higher productivity, and the ability to scale quickly. It is effectively a modern toolset that allows better engagement models and a best-practice approach. As such it is an important enabler of agility and growth for wealth managers. This is well recognised by wealth managers, and most are actively implementing or exploring.
- The role of the FinTech is lauded as an efficiency generator - in terms of both costs out of the business and revenue in. One such benefit is the reduction in cost to serve - thus enabling the wealth manager to extend their client base down the wealth scale and increase overall AUM without a huge rise in cost
- The challenge is having the business know-how and being able to spot what is worth exploring function-wise, as well as whether it can fit into existing tech infrastructures and work well both operationally and at the front end