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The Cloud- An enabler for the wealth management industry

Gary Linieres, WDX, CEO

Cloud computing – what does this form of technology mean for the wealth management industry?

As the wealth management industry continues to evolve and embrace new technologies, Gary Linieres, CEO of wealth industry CRM specialists WDX, evaluates the benefits and dispels the myths of cloud-based CRM systems. The views expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily shared by the editors of this publication, but we are pleased to share such insights and invite readers to respond.

The inevitable cultural shift towards technology-driven client offerings, digital services and data-driven applications of the past three years has created unprecedented change across wealth and investment management. Today, a solid customer relationship management technical backbone that supports every aspect of client operations has become pivotal to the success and growth amongst investment firms.

Demand for CRM technology and digital transformation has become the fastest growth area in the UK fintech sector in the last two years as the investment industry gets to grip with tightening conduct regulations, demand for optimal client operations and digital service provision.

PWC’s Wealth Management Trend 2016 report also stated that by 2020 millennials will control over half of all investable assets and wealth managers are counting on new online and mobile offerings to attract new clients.

Cloud technology has emerged as a primary enabler for growing wealth and investment firms to deal with increased regulatory pressure, a demanding client base and shifting generational wealth. Firms desire a move toward nimbler, more scalable solutions that deliver core business benefits without the hassle and costs associated with upgrading in-house networks and long-haul deployments that can last as long as 12-18 months.

However, even with the well documented benefits around operational efficiencies, cost savings and rapid CRM deployment, many firms remain reticent about putting client data in to secure cloud services. The cloud is still considered risky – a threat to data privacy and ownership and a vast operational undertaking with complex challenges to established legacy systems.

This is a myth. The cloud enables both information technology infrastructure and software to be delivered directly and securely over the Internet as a service. And this provides growing wealth firms with considerable savings in both cost and implementation time and with far more flexibility. Investment in cloud-based CRM means that there is no commitment to purchase expensive legacy servers or storage systems and no burdensome considerations around the development and maintenance of IT expertise or in-house networks.

One could argue that investment in cloud-based CRM technologies is all but critical, particularly amongst the small- to mid-market players where agile client service delivery, limited legacy architecture and the ability to evolve and grow rapidly are paramount as the market shakes out those who lack the vision and ingenuity to embrace change and move forward apace.

The pay-per-user basis of cloud computing can help transform the way investment firms create and deploy customised applications and tailored services. Differentiation is now a critical need in regard to the increased globalisation of the sector and evolving competition from technology-driven wealth propositions.

MIFID II and the ongoing revision and fine-tuning of regulatory policy around know-your-client and suitability of the past three years have demanded that wealth firms and banks demonstrate and deliver operational efficiencies and service levels previously unachievable. Today smart CRM systems are enabling wealth management providers to achieve the same level of service performance as many of the major players – excellence in client service provision has become a level playing field.

WDX is working closely with Microsoft and other specialist providers to deliver an integrated CRM application built for wealth managers – we are researching and testing the technologies of tomorrow that will help drive the industry forward. What is clear is that data security is king and the ability to personalise across all elements of the client service cycle whilst meeting compliance overheads in a cost effective and user-friendly manner will be the measure of success for firms of all sizes.

Cloud computing is poised to transform the economics and performance of the wealth and investment sector in the next few years. It is the responsibility of technology service providers like WDX to support the industry in embracing this major step forward with dependable, forward-thinking solutions that will enable wealth and investment managers to embrace this change without burdening their operation or limiting their individuality.