Assessing AI Readiness in Wealth Management

The drive to digitisation of the wealth industry is well and truly underway. Sticking to the status quo of the traditional practices is no longer an option, and many institutions have succeeded in efforts to implement technology to transform operations, especially in back office and operations. We will see the continuation of technology spend and specifically, artificial intelligence (AI) being in a dominant position as the focus of efforts to evolve the front office and client experience – an area of the business struggling to adapt and embrace new technology. In this year’s World Wealth Report, Capgemini report that AI was ranked the number 1 technology in terms of impact on enhancing wealth managers’ capabilities. This belief, however strong, masks the reality of what lies beneath the desire to adopt such technology to ‘bridge the advice gap’. A question asked by the regulator is “can decisions that materially affect people’s lives be outsourced to a machine?” – and rightly so – the ethical and professional considerations for AI are many, but even as vendors rush to apply AI to these problems, there remains tremendous practical barriers for firms looking to embrace AI technology as a part of their strategy.

Beyond the Proof of Concept

A Proof of Concept (POC) is a vital element to learning quickly, whether an idea or solution has real business value. It can help answer technical questions, provide insight from real clients and increase the institutional knowledge of the domain. Most importantly, the POC can avoid committing to the huge cost and risk of embarking on initiatives doomed for failure. Within the space of AI though, it seems the POC is still a case of a solution searching for a problem, driven by a top down demand for firms and vendors to be seen to ‘doing something in AI’. Companies find it difficult to make the transition from thinking about AI as a source of innovation to a critical source of business value. Many are stuck in a series of POCs, and the lack of a clear, funded, incremental AI roadmap means there is little traction from which to build momentum. The reality for many organisations is that they AI is not something they are geared up for – not just from a skills perspective.

In such a nascent space, the level of experience and intuition about what makes a viable candidate for a POC is in some cases lacking. What’s more, the methodology for applying AI is so different from “traditional” software implementation projects, which companies are typically set up to deliver. Changing the status quo requires agility, openness to trying a new way of working and the ability to recognise when an idea has merit, and when it just won’t work. This presents cultural issues around the notion of success and delivery. Even when POCs are successful, there needs to be a way to embed the new capability within the wider operation. The integration of AI into the wider business environment is as important as technology.

The question that ought to be on the table from the outset is not whether there are good ideas of where to apply AI, but whether the firm is ready for AI.

Assessing Readiness

The hype around AI can often mean many wealth management firms are striving to benefit from AI without getting the fundamentals right first. There are five key elements to assessing readiness when it comes to AI.

Step 1 – Establish a solid AI business case and connect it to your strategy

This requires a detailed and honest look at AI from its actual capabilities and limitations in a specific, real-world context. Working with an external partner who can help unpack some of these important questions is the best approach where the skills and experience are not in house. The partner should have a proven method for compiling the business case to ensure the output of the process is something which can form the basis of the important priority calls to come.

A wealth manager needs to consider the following questions:

  1. What are your organisation’s strategic objectives and vision?
  2. How can AI help you achieve your desired outcomes?
  3. What does ‘value’ mean to your company? What does it look like? And how do you currently calculate it?
  4. Have you thought about what AI use case(s) will provide most value for you?
  5. Are these use cases feasible? Do you have the necessary elements—data, technology, capabilities, etc.—within your company, or with partners, to deliver the use case(s)?

Step 2 – Breaking down the problem

Einstein famously said, “If I had an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes thinking about solutions”, an apposite thought when considering an AI strategy. A critical skill in data science is the ability to decompose a data-analytics problem into pieces such that each piece matches a known task for which tools are available. Recognising familiar problems and their solutions avoids wasting time and resources reinventing the wheel. It also allows people to focus attention on more interesting parts of the process that require human involvement — parts that have not been automated, so human creativity and intelligence must come into play.

To consider the available options requires people who have a fundamental understanding of AI and how it works. This includes the senior management who sponsor AI programmes. It is important to foster an understanding of data science within the organisation. Data-analytic thinking enables people to evaluate proposals for AI projects. With so many ideas for applications of AI on the table, and with the risk involved in impacting clients, being able to assess the proposal systematically and decide whether it is sound or flawed is crucial. This does not mean that even a well-formed idea will succeed however — AI initiatives can, and will fail, it is part of the process – but to give the best chance, teams should be able to spot obvious flaws, unrealistic assumptions, and missing pieces.

Step 3 – Fuel your AI strategy with data

In terms of the key business outcomes – revenue growth, reducing operational costs, improving customer experience; the primary factor is to provide better information to enable timely and optimal business decisions. There is a myth that AI provides that information. It actually provides a way of making sense of vast amount of disparate sources, an automated way to get around the difficult job of fixing legacy data issues that stem from not having mature processes and systems, which capture and maintain high quality data.

In reality, good data is not the product of AI, but the fuel behind it, and for AI to be effective, it needs large, quality data sets to analyse. For most organisations still working hard to tackle siloed and legacy technology platforms, this data asset is not one they possess, and it has been cited by many as they key barrier to AI progress.

Step 4 – Map the technology systems used throughout your client journeys

Once the candidate applications of AI are defined, and the data sources mapped, a useful view of the roadmap might be to align them with the end to end client journeys. This way, there is a clearer view of how AI initiatives will help support the desired experiences, and more importantly, how the AI models themselves will be surfaced within the system(s) that orchestrate clients and internal staff interactions across the lifecycle. Client lifecycle management (CLM) systems play such a vital foundational role of orchestrating the end-to-end journeys and bringing in AI at the right points. 

Where this is not in place, and there is a lack of unified data and processes supporting the operations, it will prevent wealth managers from escaping the inertia of the POC. In these cases, it is important that firms first reconsider some more realistic objective around the underpinning systems which deliver on the key business outcomes, whilst also laying the data foundation for AI in the longer term.

The most practical and pragmatic first step is to focus on how to align and unify all customer data, across the set of target client journeys. Achieving a true single view of client data, across the entire lifecycle is not a simple step, but presents far more immediate value across the entire organisation than a standalone AI model might. Indeed, CLM and Client Relationship Management (CRM) systems capabilities which orchestrate client journeys and help manage data, are the platforms with which to embed and rollout AI as a part of an adopted workflow. Without such workflows in place, AI models are likely to be siloed, executed by disconnected teams, with limited value.

It is not a case of ‘down tools’ on AI either – there are huge opportunities for reuse in the work on getting the right platform in place. Defining the end to end client journeys and related rules, data, workflows, views, all contribute to a very detailed understanding which can be then be leveraged in AI initiatives. Having AI leaders working alongside the teams building this foundation will foster the knowledge required for subsequent AI focused solutions.

Step 5 – Don’t forget about your advisors

At the upper end of the wealth tier, where the wealth management model still relies on high touch client relationships, the balance of time spent between administration and value-added, client facing work is still too even. If this is to be addressed by any technology, advisors first need to trust in that technology and adopt it, otherwise data powered initiatives will not be a success. The adage – rubbish in, rubbish out remains as true for AI as it did for reporting and business intelligence. The necessity of getting the interface between humans and the systems they use,  is made even stronger where AI is concerned, due to the demand for a high level of confidence, accuracy and transparency in all things AI driven.

Building a culture that is open to adopt best practice in relation to data and the use of technology is the subject of another article, but it starts with having a cross functional group that share a vision, and that can represent the different needs of different parts of a business in defining areas where technology can add the most value. It is likely that the most value from technology in wealth still lies in areas outside of AI – in platforms and systems that deliver on providing a consistent way of seeing the client, and allowing a firms people to nurture and effectively manage data as a valuable asset. Should firms manage to establish that foundation and grow that asset, then wealth management will be made more ready for AI to make the positive impact that is being predicted.

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Dominic Snell was previously an ex-Barclays Wealth employee and has 17+ years experience in CRM Strategy, business analysis and solution implementation.

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Gabriel Chan

Head of Sales – APAC

An accomplished, results-driven sales and marketing professional, Gabriel has held sales and marketing leadership positions in Singapore and China at some of the world’s most successful and respected global technology enterprises.

During more than 20 years spent at IBM, Sun Microsystems and Microsoft, Gabriel developed and implemented sales and channel strategies to support strategic business objectives.

His specialism is growing and extending sales territories to grow revenues and increase market share.

Travis Morgans

Head of Consultants

Travis combines 15 years of software delivery, business modelling and leadership experience with a passion for transforming business needs into effective digital solutions. Before joining Wealth Dynamix in March 2018, Travis led Operations for Nikon – a role which incorporated CRM product ownership responsibility and initiated over 10 years of MS Dynamics experience, from 2011 to Dynamics 365​.

 Since joining the Wealth Dynamix team, Travis has been instrumental in designing and delivering some of our most strategic WDX1 projects. Leading the consulting team for WDX1, he is responsible for their recruitment and development. The team’s complex remit supports a fundamental aim – to ensure Wealth Dynamix delivers the best client experience. ​Travis is also responsible for ensuring the WDX1 product is designed and evolved in the most adaptable way possible to drive adoption across our client base, existing and future.  

Joanne Donoghue

Chief Marketing Officer

An experienced, tenacious marketer, Jo joined the Wealth Dynamix team in 2021 as Head of Marketing and quickly rose to the position of Chief Marketing Officer. A Brand and Marketing specialist with a proven track record in BRB and B2C communications, Jo combines a customer-centred approach with strategic thinking.

Having held senior Marketing positions in numerous FTSE 100 businesses, including Asda Stores Ltd, The Co-operative Retail Group, plus financial services brands MBNA, OneFamily, TransUnion, The Co-operative Group, she possesses a wealth of experience in the fields of finance and technology.

Jo is passionate about activating the Wealth Dynamix brand across every channel, taking a holistic marketing approach to drive consistency, salience and thought-leadership activity.

About – Agustin Collazo

Head of Strategic Client Relationships

Agustin joined Wealth Dynamix over six years ago bringing a wealth of experience in change management.

Having experienced first-hand the challenges of managing clients through change, Agu now brings that expertise to Wealth Management firms looking to leverage technology in order to help them connect more effectively with their clients.

Agu has a deep technical knowledge of our solutions that allows him to deliver our products effectively, unlocking the full potential of every feature.

As our Head of Strategic Client Relationships, Agu’s specialist expertise supports firms to become more efficient, transparent and dependable using our CLM solutions.

Juan Stoppa

Head of Development

Juan has over 20 years’ experience developing and implementing CRM solutions and has spent the last 10 focusing primarily on the Client Lifecycle Management (CLM) in the Wealth Management industry.

Currently Head of Development, Juan is responsible on overseeing the technical direction of the product.

Before joining Wealth Dynamix, Juan has worked for Barclays, Fujitsu and Ciber delivering large scale CRM projects in the financial services industry.

Juan has a first degree in Telecommunication Engineering from Universidad Blas Pascal and a MSc in Business Information Technology from London South Bank University.

Ben Altmira

Director of Operations & Change

An internationally experienced change management professional, Ben is responsible for overseeing projects both internally, and for clients.

In a career spanning more than 20 years in global banking, finance and management consulting, Ben has led strategy formulation, project planning, change management adoption, business networking consultation and transformational change projects at Fortis Investments, Barclays Wealth and Investment Management and Verisure Securitas Direct. Since beginning his career at Deloitte, Ben has also amassed a wealth of experience working on complex CRM system implementations, and is a PROSCI-certified Change Practitioner and a Certified Scrum Master (Scrum Alliance).

David Backx

Director of Pre-sales and Implementations

When David joined Wealth Dynamix in 2015 he brought with him a vast amount of experience delivering large-scale Microsoft Dynamics CRM projects. As a Senior Business Analyst at Royal Bank of Scotland David managed deployments with more than 2000 users, for both Business and Commercial Banking, as well as working on key AML initiatives for RBS International. In his current role at Wealth Dynamix David supports the growth and strategic direction of client implementations in Europe. Wealth Dynamix leverages David’s product expertise to shape the product roadmap and ensure that the firm delivers solutions with the right capabilities, that will be enthusiastically adopted, by all customers.

Prior to his involvement in the wealth management sector, David worked as a waste management contracts manager, working with Multi Services Kent to ensure effective waste clearance and re-use at the 2012 London Olympics.

Cedric Neuville

Director of Pre-sales and Consulting Europe

Since joining Wealth Dynamix in 2019, Cédric has worked closely with clients to ensure that the WDX and CLMi solutions are deployed efficiently and effectively.

In a career spanning more than 25 years, Cédric has become an accomplished business and global project management leader covering both technology and financial markets sectors. Having held various roles in private banking (front, middle and back office) and brokerages, in both functional and technical roles, Cédric has led many projects including client onboarding implementations and KYC reviews, regulatory compliance projects (including PSD2, MIFID2/PRIIPS, GDPR, CRS, Rubik) and digital transformation projects (online and mobile design and implementation).

Cédric has vast experience building and managing international project teams, having created three offshore teams in Tunisia and India, managed a 70-employee company as Deputy CEO and a startup Fintech founded to create smartphone apps.

Johnny Beloe

Director of Pre-Sales

As Director of Pre-Sales, Johnny is responsible for maintaining the firm’s pre-sales policies, methodologies and resourcing. He is also leads some of WDX’s largest pre-sales analysis exercises, conducted for a wider variety of financial services firms spanning multiple jurisdictions.

Continual engagement with existing and prospective clients helps to inform the WDX1 product strategy, roadmap and pricing.

Johnny has spent his whole career in financial technology in various consultancy and
pre-sales roles. His expertise covers the full stack of systems required by leading Private Banks and Wealth Managers, encompassing core banking solutions, portfolio management solutions, Client Lifecycle Management (CLM) solutions and more.

William Rouse

Commercial Director UK MEA

William’s commercial expertise in connecting technology to solve wealth management business challenges was borne out of his early career as a stockbroker, followed by a variety of Client Relationship Management and Sales roles in asset management and banking.

Having experienced first-hand the challenges of doing the job, William recognises that an unwavering focus on client service is required to build progressive and mutually beneficial partnerships in FOR the longer term. Having gained further experience working for financial technology service providers including Calastone and Contemi, he has the specialist expertise needed to identify how to leverage technology to help wealth managers connect more effectively with their clients, and become more efficient, transparent and dependable.

In addition to his role as Commercial Director at Wealth Dynamix, responsible for new business development in the UK, US and Middle East, William sits on the board of the Securities Investment Management Association (SIMA) where he is actively involved in exploring industry trends and challenges.

Dominic Snell

Chief Product Officer

An experienced and accomplished specialist in CRM technology and wealth management, Dominic is responsible for defining and leading the product roadmap for Client Lifecycle Management (CLM) solutions at Wealth Dynamix. Experienced in SaaS strategy definition, Dominic formulated the development and launch plan for the firm’s cloud-based CLMi solution.

Prior to joining Wealth Dynamix in 2014, Dominic held senior positions in both RBS and Barclays Wealth and Investment Management, where he was responsible for leading enterprise-scale CRM implementation projects.

With more than 15 years wealth management and WealthTech experience he has vast expertise and insights into best practice CRM and CLM execution.

Francois De Lescure

Chief Revenue Officer

François joined Wealth Dynamix in 2020 to grow the company’s presence in France and further extend business operations across Europe and has since been designated Chief Revenue Officer, a member of the board. 

Having closed several flagship deals for the company across Europe and Switzerland, today his role encompasses responsibility for new and existing revenues, recruiting, structuring and managing the sales team, plus owning the business forecast and reseller channels.

Previously, François served as Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, Executive Committee member and investor at DreamQuark, an Artificial Intelligence software startup. At DreamQuark, he secured the firm’s first recurring revenues with Tier-1 banks and insurance companies, won the Fintech of the Year award and enabled A and B level fundraising. Before that François spent almost 10 years at Nokia Networks, leading European Sales for Analytics Software.

François has an MBA awarded by INSEAD and an engineering degree from the École Centrale de Nantes.

Natalie Levine

Chief Operating Officer

Currently Chief Operating Officer and Board Member at Wealth Dynamix, Natalie is responsible for the strategic direction of operations across the business. A wealth and investment management industry expert, with more than 25 years experience delivering large-scale technology projects, Natalie plays a pivotal role in ensuring the efficient running of the firm and meeting key business goals.

Prior to joining Wealth Dynamix in 2019, Natalie was Head of Technology at Bridgepoint Advisers, a UK-based private equity investment firm. She joined Bridgepoint following an 18-year tenure at Quilter Cheviot, where she was Head of Technology responsible for Operations and execution of the firm’s business plan.

Brent Randall

Co-founder and CFO

A wealth and investment management industry expert, Brent has more than 25 years of experience in developing front to back software solutions that address sector-specific operational and compliance challenges.

Prior to co-founding Wealth Dynamix in 2012, he was a Director at Third Financial Software, where he drove product development.

Previously, he led business development and product strategy for the wealth management division of Financial Objects.

Brent spent 13 years at DST (now SS&C) until 2007, where he was Associate Director responsible for the global product strategy of institutional front office and wealth management solutions.

He graduated from Downing College, Cambridge, with an honours degree in Geography.

Gary Linieres

Co-founder and CEO

With a lifetime career in wealth management, beginning in front office sales more than 25 years ago, Gary is recognised as a highly successful, award-winning executive and serial entrepreneur.

Currently CEO at Wealth Dynamix, one of Europe’s fastest growing WealthTech firms which he founded in 2012, Gary has pioneered a new approach to Client Lifecycle Management (CLM) and built solutions suited to both enterprise-scale and mid-size financial institutions.

In his early career Gary excelled in a wide variety of FinTech sales management and executive roles in the UK, Switzerland and France.

Following his tenure as Managing Director at Financial Objects, which saw revenues grow by more than 300% on his watch, Gary founded and subsequently exited from Third Financial Software after it became a leading front office technology provider.

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