Technology vs human: how far is too far?

The digitalisation of wealth management will continue and bring benefits to the sector. However the human element will not disappear in the foreseeable future as machines are unable to provide “empathy,” according to participants at a roundtable discussion hosted by wealth management IT firm Wealth Dynamix and PAM Insight, publishers of thewealthnet.

There was a general consensus amongst those that gathered at the London offices of EY for the discussion that the digitalisation of some aspects of wealth management was inevitable and had already begun. However, it was also agreed that for the traditional firms serving wealthy clients there was a spectrum which involved both digital and human interaction.

One area where this empathy is particularly important is in the delivery of bad news. David Howard, head of client service and proposition at Rathbone Brothers, used an analogy about the increased abilities of technology in the medical sector.

If you were told a computer was able to analyse your medical test results more accurately than a human you would probably opt for the digital approach. However, that is not the same as saying you would want a computer to deliver the results. Most would opt for a human, as in the event of bad news, a human is able to empathise.

The same principle applies when considering portfolio performance. If there have been market issues a human is better able to reassure a client and explain what has been done in response to these circumstances.
David Howard
Head of client service & proposition at Rathbone Brothers

He added that people value highly the relationship with their adviser, especially in difficult times. He said some individuals may tolerate lower performance for the sake of a strong relationship. This cannot be offered by a purely digital service.

Dominic Snell, head of consulting at Wealth Dynamix, added that machines are unable to draw out “any deeply held anxieties, goals or beliefs” that a human can pick up on when building a relationship with a client and that a human adviser can “draw on their own experience to offer relevant advice”.

Much focus has been placed on so-called “robo-advice” and the digitalisation of investment services.

Concerns were raised as to how a purely digital investment service could be made to be a successful business. This is especially true for a start-up where the high costs of acquiring clients make profitability a difficult situation to reach.

For established wealth management brands this may be easier. However, the pure ‘robo’ services do not tend to have wide appeal amongst the current set of wealthy and very wealthy clients. Instead participants felt ‘robo advice’ may have a place serving the mass affluent market and in closing the “advice gap.”

However, Paul Fletcher, a partner at London & Capital, also raised the point that in the UK the idea of investing through liquid portfolios is nowhere near as entrenched an idea as investing in property. Convincing mass affluent individuals to consider liquid investment as a proxy to property is another barrier ‘robo advisers’ will need to overcome.

Guys discussing business seated around a table looking at some paper work

Steve Dyson, director at Investment & Wealth Management Consultants, said that the “closing of the advice gap was the starting point for the development of robo-advice in the UK.” However, he added that “some firms are starting to emerge that are focused higher up the wealth chain.” He cited Netwealth as one such firm that was seeking the same kind of wealthy client as the traditional wealth management firms.

Also as the level of wealth of an individual grows, their affairs tend to become more complex. At the moment a purely digital service would struggle to understand the complexity and create a suitable solution, the participants felt.

What a purely digital service run by a traditional wealth management may be able to do is capture clients further down the wealth chain. Once their level of wealth has increased to a sufficient level the firm can contact the client to offer additional services and begin the human relationship.

Of course, digitalisation of the wealth management sector is not just about robo-advice. There are many elements that can be digitalised and many digital tools that can be given to clients.

One element that Andrew Butler-Cassar, head of private office at Investec, believes will be ubiquitous is an aggregation tool.

Wealthy clients usually have accounts and investments with a number of different institutions. An aggregation tool that allows them to see all their affairs, and not just those of the firm that provides the tool, will become something most offer, I believe.
Andrew Butler-Cassar
Head of private office at Investec

Client demand may be ahead of what the sector can currently offer. Roopalee Dave, senior manager in EY’s wealth and asset management department, said that research by EY suggested that there is an awareness and desire for digital wealth management services amongst “all wealth segments and all ages.”

Although clients of all ages are becoming more comfortable with digital services, there was an agreement that one of the major trend driving the digitalisation of wealth management was the need to cater for future generations of clients.

To ensure that firms are able to meet these digital needs of clients, it is important that individuals working at them embrace the change.

“You can change the systems but what about the people?” asked Verona Smith, head of platform of Seven Investment Management. “The change has to come from the top down. The operational efficiencies and the ability to decrease risk need to be demonstrated to ensure all client facing staff become digital converts.”

Homy Dayani-Fard, director, strategy and customer at EY, also looked outside the wealth management sector to see the wider trends of digitalisation. He highlighted that digital creates the opportunity to “bring together different aspects of life” into one place.

In addition, the way in which wealth is created has evolved, Mr Butler-Cassar added. It is now possible to build a successful digital business without the need for the same level of initial spend and overhead that was required for non-digital businesses.

Technology laptop and mobile on desk with full notepad mug with coffee

Despite this, additional funding is still usually required to invest in a successful business for growth. This can often involve lending decisions that are not purely based on the hard and fast rules which a digital service would use. Mr Butler-Cassar suggested that human interaction will still be needed for these, even if the individual then uses a digital wealth management service as their wealth begins to build.

Whatever shape it takes, it is clear that those taking part in the discussion can see the benefits of blending digital and face-to-face engagement with clients, if the right level and approach can be found.

“It’s a spectrum,” Ms Dave. “It is about finding the right mix of digital and human interaction that works for your clients and your business.”

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Wealth Dynamix delivers Client Lifecycle Management solutions to the world’s leading private banks and wealth and asset management firms.

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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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