Celent’s Innovation and Insight Day: Wealth and Asset Management Stream

We are only weeks away from Celent's 2017 Innovation and Insight Day where we will explore how players in the financial services market are leveraging technology in innovative ways in order to differentiate themselves in an increasingly competitive and challenging marketplace. We will be featuring a number of case studies, discussions, and deep-dives into topic areas surrounding innovation and focusing on themes, such as:

  • Customer Experience
  • Products
  • Emerging Innovation
  • Operation and Risk
  • Legacy Transformation

This is the first year we will have a Wealth and Asset Management (WAM) breakout session where we will cover a range of topics around innovative solutions and trends in WAM.  The agenda can be found here: Wealth and Asset Management (WAM) Program and will be presented by analysts from the Celent Securities & Investments and Wealth & Asset Management teams:

  • David Easthope, Senior Vice President, Securities & Investments
  • Brad Bailey, Research Director, Securities & Investments
  • Kelley Byrnes, Analyst, Wealth & Asset Management
  • John Dwyer, Senior Analyst, Securities & Investments
  • Ashley Globerman, Analyst, Wealth & Asset Management
  • Arin Ray, Analyst, Securities & Investments
  • William Trout, Senior Analyst, Wealth Management
  • James Wolstenholme, Senior Analyst, Wealth & Asset Management

I particularly look forward to sharing research around the evolving wealth management landscape as the core client base shifts from baby boomers to millennials. While much ground has been covered from the perspective of wealth managers to meet the digital needs of nextgen clients, wealth managers continue to be behind the curve in their digital offerings.

How are wealth managers and vendors responding to the paradigm shift in the development and execution of services and products to meet millennials’ distinct expectations?

This is just one example of the many topics that we will discuss at I&I day – we hope to see you there!

 

Impact Investing Gains Momentum

The polarizing political climate appears to be serving as an impetus for some firms to take socially responsible investing more seriously.  At today’s Impact Investing conference hosted by The Economist in NYC, Audrey Choi, Chief Executive of Morgan Stanley’s Institute for Sustainable Investing, said there is research that shows that 70% of investors want to align their investments with their values.

Not surprisingly millennials are interested in impact investing. Audrey Choi also referenced research that that millennials are two times as likely to buy or divest stocks based on their personal beliefs.

Most speakers throughout the day were aligned in that they wanted to see impact investing become more than just a sleeve of an investor’s portfolio; impact investing should be mainstream as suggested by the full name of the conference, “Impact Investing: Mainstreaming purpose driven finance.”  Jackie VanderBurg, Managing Director and Investment Strategist of US Trust and co-author of “Gender Lens Investing: Uncovering Opportunities for Growth, Returns and Impact,” explained that gender lens investing, like other responsible investing should not operate in a silo.

Another common theme throughout the conference was that impact investing is smart investing. Understanding sustainability and opening one’s eyes to the different geo-political risks that face our world, is wise and exposes a company to less risk. For example, Audrey Choi, shared a statistic from the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB), which found that 93% of companies stand to be impacted by climate change or the need to defend against it, but only 12% of companies are disclosing the risk.

A roadblock in the world of socially responsible investing is proving to investors that they do not have to compromise return when investing according to their beliefs.  As Jackie VanderBurg said in reference to gender lens investing, “Gender lens investing is not small, soft and pink. It is smart investing. Gender lens investing is the deliberate, intentional integration of gender-based data into financial analysis with the expectation of finding additional opportunities and mitigating risk”.  Money managers and personal investors must apply the same rigorous process to impact investments as they would with any type of investment. 

Joshua Levin, co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer of OpenInvest, a robo-advisory that permits clients to choose investments supported by their personal beliefs, brought up another challenge: intermediaries. He gave the example that when people first started out investing, people invested to have an impact; that impact may have been to start a factory or own part of a company to influence a company’s decisions. Now with so many intermediaries, investors no longer think of investments as having an impact. Now people invest for diversification.  With a platform like OpenInvest, people can have an impact by choosing not to invest in a company if the company is not aligned with their personal beliefs. 

Many speakers were also in agreement on other challenges facing impact investing: reliable metrics, more products across asset classes, and more education for consumers and advisors alike.  After attending this conference, I am hopeful that firms are working to address the roadblocks to impact investing. While perfect solutions may not be possible this should not impede the value that can be added from investing in a socially responsible way.

Finally, Behavioral Segmentation for Wealth Management

Yesterday’s IBM Forum for Financial Services showed Watson’s capabilities for wealth management, insurance and banking. The forum coincided with the 2.0 release for Watson’s application in financial services.  

The demo session emphasized Watson’s behavioral segmentation capabilities.  The psychographic measures delivered by IBM Customer Insight are impressive.  For example, measures include but are not limited to: openness, liberalism, cautiousness and sympathy.  Knowing all too well that a client’s personality can make them candidates for different products than what a client’s paper profile would suggest, it is easy to see how in the wealth management space, advisors could use these measures to build deeper human connections with their clients. 

I was also impressed by the fact that Watson shows financial advisors the reasoning behind the machine learning results.  Gaining insights into how Watson arrives at its recommendations empowers advisors to validate the results or add human refinement based on inputs not available to Watson.  In this way Watson can complement the financial advisor. 

It seems that there is even more that IBM is working on that is not in this latest release, so I’m looking forward to what more there is to come.

FinovateFall 2016, NYC: Day 2

Below is a selection of companies, which demonstrated solutions that can be used in the wealth management space. The Best in Show awards went to: 1) AutoGravity, 2) Backbase (mentioned in my blog post yesterday, FinovateFall 2016, NYC: Day 1), 3) Clinc (profiled below), 4) MX, 5) Swych and 6) Trusona

Envestnet│Yodlee:

Envestnet│Yodlee presented their dynamic intelligence solution. Envestnet│Yodlee walked through an example with a fictional user, Amanda, a 29 year old with $85,000 in student debt. Amanda just received a $15,000 signing bonus.  A chatbot alerts Amanda of the new deposit and provides Amanda with three ways to use the cash: 1) pay down her credit card debt, 2) use the money for emergency savings, or 3) pay down her student loans.

Envestnet│Yodlee has data on 22 million customers in 15 countries. As such, Envestnet│Yodlee has looked at data across all of Amanda’s financial institutions and has data that shows Amanda has stopped contributing to her prior’s employer’s 401(k).  Therefore, Envestnet│Yodlee infers that the $15,000 is not a recurring deposit.

The chatbot offers Amanda detailed information on each of the three suggestions listed above. The chatbot uses Amanda’s financial information and best financial practices to offer additional information on each of the three recommendations. For example, when Amanda asks for additional insight on putting the money away in an emergency account, the chatbot provides information on how much money Amanda needs to cover one, three, or six months of spending based on her habits. 

IBM Customer Insight:

IBM Customer Insight, the second IBM product to be demonstrated at FInovate, is a dedicated cloud system.  It provides cognitive insights derived from third-party sources, customer transactional and behavioral data.

The Finovate demonstration showed what a regional manager at a bank would see when using IBM Customer Insight. The fictional regional manager, Harry can use IBM Customer Insight to predict customer attrition, mortgage churn, overdraft, and large deposits. Also, Harry can use IBM’s system to study the sum of a customer’s life events. Harry can look at one life event, such as a relocation to get information on other possible life events, like purchasing a home or retirement.

M1 Finance:

M1 Finance, a portfolio management tool, announced their public launch at FinovateFall 2016.  Their product allows users to create, organize and automate their investment portfolios.  An individual can choose to create a default M1 portfolio or create their own portfolio. M1Finance has three default portfolios: 1) Savings, 2) General, and 3) Retirement.  The portfolios are all displayed graphically as a pie chart.

In the presentation, the M1 Finance Savings portfolio was selected.  A user can then choose to edit the savings portfolio investments.  For example, a user can search the investments in the savings portfolio for FANG stocks (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, and Google) and opt to group those stocks together.  The user can track this FANG group separately and even choose to increase the weighting of the FANG stocks.  Every slice of the pie is a visual representation. For example, if the perimeter of the FANG stocks are not be in line with the rest of the pie’s perimeter it indicates the FANG weighting is over/under target allocation.

M1 Finance is available on the web, android and iOS.  In the presentation, M1 Finance said they do not charge rebalancing commissions.

Qumram:

Qumram demonstrated how “digital business and compliance can co-exist.”  Qumram records every digital interaction, plays them in movie form, and stores the videos for as long as is required by regulation.  Currently the product is used by UBS globally.

In today’s demonstration, the Finovate audience witnessed an interaction between an advisor and a client on WhatsApp. The fictional client was Patrick, who wants to invest $30,000.  After the advisor’s conversation with Patrick concludes, the conversation is recorded and automatically categorized with the client’s name, advisor’s name and products mentioned, e.g., LinkedIn (LNKD). 

Clinc:

Clinc is another dynamic intelligence solution.  The application responds to conversational language. For example, in today’s demonstration, the demonstrator said, “I am thinking of getting something to eat after Finovate in NYC. Can I afford $150 on dinner?”  The application responded with the user’s monthly average spending on eating out.  The application also added that if the user were to spend $150 on dinner tonight that the user would still be 10% below their average monthly spend. Additionally, with the use of the Clinc app the user can move some money between accounts.

FIS:

FIS discussed their new card-less cash technology. The FIS presenter showed that an individual can retrieve cash from an ATM without inserting a card.  A user can save their preferences on their mobile device. For example, if a user usually takes out $40 at a time, then that preference can be saved. When at an ATM, the user can select card-less cash as an option. The user then scans the QR code on their mobile device. 

FIS also showed that when a user approaches an ATM that is behind a locked door, the user can open the door with their mobile device. Lastly, FIS demonstrated that with their technology allows a user to send money via Amazon’s Alexa. The demonstration closed with a video of the individual in India collecting the money from an ATM located in India. 

With the addition of FIS’ latest partnership there will be 100,000 ATMs with card-less cash optionality.  Additionally, card-less cash works at participating grocery stores, convenience stores and pharmacies.

 

 

 

FinovateFall 2016, NYC: Day 1

This is my first year attending a Finovate conference. This year many of the companies claim to solve one of two problems: fraud or lengthy existing processes to comply with AML/KYC laws.  Additionally, there are several companies that facilitate collaboration and co-browsing between representative and consumer, or in the case of wealth management, advisor and client.

Below are companies that have products that touch – some more closely than others – the wealth management space:

Trulioo, one of the verification companies, was memorable for the fictional characters used, “Ryan Lochte” and “Michael Phelps”.  Michael Phelps checked out when Trulio selected six of his credentials to validate out of over 200 possible data sources that could be used to verify users.  Ryan Lochte did not check out when the same process was used. The presenter joked that Ryan may not be able to open an account with a Brazilian start-up. Trulioo stressed its ability to work in over 50 countries and as such, highlighted that it would be a good vendor for companies looking to expand globally.

In the Backbase presentation, the presenter proved to the audience that it is possible to set up a personal checking account in 60 seconds.  Backbase features include: conversational style dialogue to get initial customer details, social security numbers are automatically verified, and official documentation (passport, state ID)  and credit card information can be uploaded with a mobile camera.  Backbase’s customers include Goldman Sachs and ABN Amro.

TokBox and Salemove facilitate collaboration and co-browsing across platforms. Both companies focus on the fact that customers prefer to see the person they are engaging with online (Proof there is another person answering your questions!)  For example, when co-browsing using Tokbox, an advisor can share content with their client, can annotate on the shared screen, and then save the screen to send to their client later.  In addition to co-browsing, Tokbox features include: two-factor authentication, secure recording, and multi-party calls.  

SaleMove allows advisors to login through a portal on a website.  In the case of wealth management, it is designed to run on top of a wealth management firm’s or RIA’s website.  The wealth management firm or RIA can create the business rules for when a customer engages with the website.  For example, if a client that has previously engaged logs on, SaleMove can direct that customer to the same advisor that previously answered the customer’s chat request. Business rules can also be created so an out of office message picks up.

Personetics’ product is a “savings coach” that helps consumers with short-term goals and retirement.  It is a predictive analytics solution with a chatbot.  While it is a consumer banking product now, it is possible to envision it being used in the wealth management space as an add-on tool designed for mass market, mass affluent and/or HNW clients.   The Finovate presenter gave an example of a customer about to go out to eat and the chatbot alerts the customer that they have been spending a lot on restaurants. Or a customer can ask a general question, like “Can I afford this?” Typically the chatbot will ask how much it costs then the user inputs the price. The chatbot will inform the customer how many months of cash-flow are needed to afford the purchase. The user can also check in regularly with the chatbot to see how much they have saved for a specific goal. Lastly, The Personetics presenter mentioned that the product collects feedback while in interaction. For example, the Personetics chatbot will ask the customer if the chatbot is helpful and the customer can respond “Yes”, “Meh” or “Stop sending me these”.   

More to come from Day 2 tomorrow…

 

 

 

Run, hide, partner, or buy: Fintech, automation, and disruption in wealth management and capital markets

Readers of a certain age may remember Frankfurt's aspirations of surpassing London as the world’s leading banking center. While that vision has not come to pass, Frankfurt remains a powerful hub for global finance. Home to Deutsche Bank, the European Central Bank and the Deutsche Börse exchange among others, Frankfurt’s importance is reinforced by its location at the very heart of Europe.

With this in mind, Research Director Brad Bailey and I are excited to bring the next Celent Wealth and Capital Markets roundtable to Frankfurt on Tuesday, May 10th. Of particular interest will be the role played by fintech firms in disrupting an ecosystem long dominated by large financial institutions. Brad and I will share ideas and examples from recent research, while senior executives with banks and asset managers and other large institutions from Germany, Switzerland, the UK and Italy will offer their perspectives on the disruption and the technology strategies they have adopted in response.

To maximize the participatory nature of this event, Celent is capping attendance at 20 individuals. At present, we have a few seats still open and would love to hear from other clients interested in joining us.

Silicon Valley? No, Chilecon Valley

In previous blog posts regarding fintech in Latin America my position was, and remains, that one of the reasons for being behind is that it lacks of a “Silicon Valley” equivalent. Efforts to create a fintech ecosystem, as Finnovista is doing, become a good alternative to overcome the absence of a geographical pocket of innovation. Particularly consider the market fragmentation of Latin America comprised by 19 countries, some of which have 3M inhabitants to Brazil having +200M. People in most countries may speak the same language but markets are far from being similar just for that. Under (or against?) these circumstances, Chile is working to become Latin America’s Silicon Valley. One of its most attractive initiatives is “Start-Up Chile”, created four years ago to transform the Chilean entrepreneurial ecosystem. It began with a question: “What would happen if we could bring the best and brightest entrepreneurs from all around the globe and insert them into the local ecosystem?” The initiative offers work visas, financial support, and an extensive network of global contacts to help build and accelerate growth of customer-validated and scalable companies that will leave a lasting impact on the Latin American ecosystem. The idea is to make the country a focal point for innovation and entrepreneurship within the region. Start-up Chile, with only four years, is a start-up itself but it has a good starting point and great potential:
  •  Chile has demonstrated for years its entrepreneurial spirit, with Chilean companies competing successfully in various industries (air transportation, financial services, and retail, just to mention a few) and a stable economy.
  • This year two Chilean start-ups were the winners of the BBVA Open Talent in Latin America: Destacame.cl, aiming to financial inclusion by creating a credit scoring based on utility payments; and Bitnexo which enables fast, easy and low cost transfers between Asia and Latin America, using Bitcoin.
While other countries and cities in the region are working in offering support to start-ups, it seems Chile is leading the way. Hopefully this triggers some healthy competition in the region, which in the end will benefit all. In the meantime, let’s meet at Finnosummit in Bogota – Colombia next February 16th. Join the financial institutions, consultants, tech vendors, startups and other digital ecosystem innovators, to learn how startup driven disruption and new technologies are reshaping the future of financial services in the region. Remember to use Celent’s discount code C3L3NT20% for a 20% discount on your conference ticket.  

From the Celent Innovation Forum, Tokyo

At Celent we have been focusing on financial services technology since our inception. Now of course all eyes are focused on fintech, which we might inversely call the use of technology to disrupt (traditional) financial services. Investment in fintech startups is significant, and the financial markets involved are huge – US$218 trillion annually in the capital markets alone. Celent recently held our latest fintech event in Tokyo to a full house, an indication of the intense interest in fintech in the Japanese market. The day consisted of two Celent presentations on fintech in the retail and institutional securities industries, followed by a discussion panel. Celent senior analyst John Dwyer presented on blockchain technology and its potential use across capital markets. Smart contracts powered by this technology could conceivably replace existing means of executing market transactions, and by enabling direct ownership might displace custodians and other intermediaries. As if this weren’t food for thought enough, governments including the US and UK are taking a serious look at putting the dollar and the pound on blockchains. Talk about fundamental disruption! Senior analyst Will Trout provided an analysis of how automated advice (robo advisory) is reshaping the wealth management industry. After the financial crisis many individuals quite naturally want to manage their assets themselves, but also require investment advice. Robo advisory, which perfectly suits the self-service, mobile lifestyle, is an answer to this dilemma. SoftBank, Nomura Asset Management and The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ joined the panel discussion, bringing their respective views on cognitive computing; the potential of fintech to lure Japan’s famously reticent retail segment to participate in the markets; and how to mobilize a large organization for innovation. A fundamental question about fintech is who will ultimately derive value from these innovations: fintech startups; technology giants like Alibaba and Google; or the incumbent financial institutions? Due partly to the regulatory stance, in Japan more than in most markets financial institutions may be in the best position to end up in the winner’s box. Only time will tell, for Japan and for markets across the globe, but you can rely on Celent to continue to provide our clients with insights in the rapidly developing world of fintech.

Celent roundtable in Zurich: Swiss banking plus a dash of fintech

Audience Swiss banking may be at a crossroads, but the Celent Swiss Banking 2025 roundtable in Zurich revealed decided optimism among participants. The 15 attendees ranged from senior representatives of global and Swiss banks to the heads of advisory firms and leaders of the Swiss and German stock exchanges. A consensus view was that the increased use of digital technology will help Swiss banking reconcile traditional values of stability and discretion with the need for transparency and scale. While the industry faces ongoing regulatory and compliance demands as well as overcapacity issues, automation offers a way to counteract the inevitable compression of fee structures. Several robo advisory vehicles are already up and running in Switzerland, with even the most traditional firms seeking to rationalize their service models. The private, invitation-only event was part of a series of targeted roundtables offered by Celent’s Securities & Investments Practice, such as a session delivered last year in London. The success of the inaugural Zurich event speaks to future sessions in Switzerland and elsewhere in Europe designed to provide thought leadership and engage senior level audiences around key issues. “Events like these offer a forum for thought leadership that seldom can be replicated elsewhere,” said Research Director Brad Bailey, who led a lively discussion around liquidity in capital markets.

The future is here

The pressures are well known in banking and the capital markets. Each month there are front page articles of scaling back, overhauling, reorganizing, or closing major bank lines. A continued reworking, a forging of a new business is occurring. Old models are shrinking and being replaced by new business models or being cast aside. Since the 2008 crisis, wave after wave of pressure has made this perfectly clear. Capital constraints, on-going regulatory pressures, and an ultra-low interest rate environment have all struck hard at the existing banking & broker/dealer system. Nearly all players-big and small- are rethinking the very core of their businesses. And this is a multi-threaded problem across all businesses: equities, FX, fixed income, and derivatives. Banks and broker/dealers are trying to balance their existing franchises against the pressures they are facing to create a lean profitable business that supports their clients. There are no easy answers, given the strong interdependence between the wealth, asset management, and capital markets businesses across all products. Many of the solutions are moving from efficiency, or cost-cutting to effectiveness. Costs are being cut-there are improvements in risk, compliance, processing. The cost side is getting better but the challenge remains on the revenue side. This drive for effectiveness is driving business models that support internal and external clients from a compliance, transparency, regulatory, fairness and cost perspective are driving more automation and electronic trading solutions. Celent will be discussing the evolving landscape of innovation in automation and technology at two upcoming roundtables. On September 15th in London we will be looking at changes in the US and European fixed income markets and how new technologies are driving change. Then on September 22nd in Zurich, we will be looking at wealth management and the capital markets and the many changes that are occurring in Swiss banking.