The Sunday Times: Technology plus the Human Touch
Traditionally, wealth managers have built their businesses on personal relationships, often going back decades and relying on regular face-to-face contact.
It is a formula that served the industry well in the past, but has left it wanting in an era of tougher regulation, and the explosion of digital technology in the workplace and at home.
Under pressure from regulators and technological developments elsewhere in financial services, the industry is evolving, though some firms have been quicker to adapt to change than others.
Wealth Dynamix (WDX) is a market leader in client management systems for wealth managers, helping them to negotiate their way through the shifting landscape of regulation, changing consumer habits and digital transformation.
Gary Linieres, chief executive of WDX, says technology has become an essential tool, but he also defends the need to retain a strong personal bond between advisers and clients.
“It’s important for wealth managers to consider that they must deploy a digital technology strategy, but they must not do it at the expense of the human element of the relationship,” he says.
Used effectively, technology is vital to cement relations with clients, improve business efficiency and satisfy the needs of regulators.
Robo-advice might be adequate for the mass market, but is not appropriate for wealthier clients with larger portfolios and more complex financial arrangements.
However, discretionary fund managers need to use technology to theirs and their client’s advantage, while retaining personal relationships.
WDX has developed a suite of products and services based on the Microsoft Dynamics platform and used by a number of the UK’s major wealth management firms looking after clients with a combined £150 billion of assets under management. Their solutions are intuitive and easily customisable, and working with a trusted and leading provider puts WDX at the forefront of the advancing digital era.
Experts at WDX work closely with business stakeholders and technology teams to devise solutions that can be delivered via the cloud or within existing in-house infrastructure to drive digital transformation and empower wealth managers across key industry areas.
They are designed to meet the challenges of growing the business by forging stronger ties with existing clients or winning new ones. This enables firms to mine their client base to analyse what products they already have or might need, and can be used to support marketing campaigns and events aimed at new prospects as part of a client acquisition strategy.
“The industry needs to embrace technology and adapt to digital advancements or risk being left behind, but that does not mean taking people out of the equation.”
Rigorous regulatory requirements have made onboarding of new clients complex and time consuming. Technology helps to investigate and understand the client’s circumstances and needs, such as attitude to risk or investment knowledge, and provides the firm’s management and the Financial Conduct Authority with evidence about the suitability of any advice.
The industry may be built on people, but has often been slow to see the advantages of client relationship management systems, and WDX provides a robust structure that improves communications between advisers and clients, from sending out prompts when reviews are needed to reminders of birthdays.
Furthermore, WDX’s solution provides vital information to senior management, giving them the data they need to analyse the performance of the business.
The final piece of the jigsaw is pulling all these components together on a digital platform that makes all the information available via the internet on a computer, tablet or smartphone.
It opens up new options for investment managers and their clients, allowing them to exchange news electronically, such as investment proposals or payment requests, and using video conferencing to keep in regular contact.
Technology has a massive role to play and, rather than creating an impersonal barrier, it helps to make clients feel appreciated and secure in the knowledge they have a trusted expert armed with the latest digital tools.
Mr Linieres concludes: “The industry needs to embrace technology and adapt to digital advancements or risk being left behind, but that does not mean taking people out of the equation. The human interaction is still an integral part of the wealth management industry, but the challenge is getting the best from both.”