Taking Back Control. How firms can harness integrated business and investment processes

10 November 2022

DatagovernanceIntegrationInvestmentsMindful OfRegulationWealthTech Matters

Expert: Geoff Towers (CEO GPP Group) and Tom Wooders (Group Head of Sales at Titan Wealth Holdings) Facilitator: Sarah Bennett


  1. For firms to have control, the robustness of the processes that underpin functions is very important
  2. A key feature of control is orchestration of a stack of systems and applications to facilitate seamless integration/ collaboration of systems.
  3. Enabling reporting as much as possible without making the process overly complex/ complicated is a challenge for WMs


Definitions of control

Control for firms is being able to synthesise the available data and draw out insights that can help manage customer relationships better, and help the firm organise more effectively.

The consistency of process and approach is an important requirement of control, and it's worth noting that control doesn’t necessarily require that governance is centralised, just that it’s visible and that the processes underpinning them are robust and the approach is documented.

Control for WM's is having total ownership of the client experience, and the impact this has on the firm’s brand. The language used, end customer experience, independence of mind, and adviser control of choices are all key considerations.

A requirement of control is also "knowing when you are not in control" - the risk of a false nirvana is ever present, and firms needs to be mindful of what they do not know as much as what they do know.

Challenges to control

Firms have found that a heavily centralised model of control and governance is more 'harmful' than beneficial. "Neurosis" around data control have been misplaced and some firms are better off outsourcing more functions to specialists that can do it better.

Environmental drivers within the industry/ sector like increased regulation have led to WMs putting pressure on lowering fees, which consequently has had an impact on the services that firms can offer and the value they provide clients.

Discretionary WM services are traditionally known for offering a premium service for clients, but there has been a shift to making it more accessible to the masses.

There is a feeling that WMs have worked themselves into a corner over the past 12 years in relation to costs.

Outsourcing opportunities

What you're outsourcing, and external dependencies you have are important considerations for firms.

To ensure business growth aspirations of the firm outsourcing can be supported by/are aligned with the aspirations and business trajectory of the outsourced provider.

Certain key functions should remain in house, whereas others might make more sense to be outsourced. For example, there might be cost benefits for smaller firms to outsource administrative functions.

Functions firms are happy to outsource

  1. Regulatory checks were identified as an additional area that could potentially be outsourced
  2. Operations/ Administration
  3. Tech and IT

WMs are conscious that whilst there are many benefits to outsourcing, they do not want to delegate a problem, or send a function for external management without addressing any underlying issues first.

Concern over ‘loss of control’ at its greatest where key business imperatives on the outsourcing party have not been aligned with the aspirations/capabilities of the outsourced services provider.  Gives rise to view that outsourcing firm’s business differentiators are in some way diluted in this scenario.

Data and governance

It is important for firms to have one source of 'truth' in relation to data, it does not matter if that source is internal or external, but the business need to be convinced that the data is correct to feel in control. There is a tolerance for data errors if there is an understanding of where the inaccuracies sit and what's causing them, and a path to green.

Firms agree that business functions around E2E client journeys should be in-house for growing the business and owning the client experience. If you outsource the customer journey/ experience, then you open your brand to reputational damage.

It is important for firms to have a clear understanding of the data available to them, trust that the data is accurate, and be able to leverage insights from that data to establish a framework/ path for decision making. In particular: quality, source, governance, and flexibility of the data is crucial.

General insights and industry trends

It is important for firms to ensure that they are providing clients with a sense of control over their own lives, financial goals, and targets. Advisers provide clients with reassurance in their decision making and trust firms to sell them stability for their futures. Perception of value for money of advice remains high.

For outsourced functions the data/ feedback you receive undergoes a lot more scrutiny and post-Audit, there is evidence of better control than in-house.  An in-house function is considered sub-optimal at >5-year maturity.  Firms at this point are not able to benefit from cost savings and efficiency gains of outsourcing appropriate functions or are held back in their ability to innovate their tech stack.

Differentiation in the industry is credited more to individual branding and the IP ‘soft’ side than the actual technical service offerings available to clients; firms are weary that they do not wish to outsource anything linked to their IP.

Key takeaways:

  • Anything which makes the firm unique or helps to differentiate them from peers/ competitors should stay inhouse
  • There is a push for greater personalisation, but firms feel that they far from it
  • Increased digitisation because of Covid has impacted consumer/ client expectations while increased WFH capabilities have provided greater flexibility to people, and there is a greater expectation that services are more readily available from the comfort of people’s homes