How can modernizing data architecture drive customer satisfaction?
A US-based global wealth management firm was facing a seemingly insurmountable challenge. If its advisors could use real-time portfolio updates to offer their customers products and services that were precisely tailored to their needs, it would transform the business — but this wasn’t possible with their current IT set-up. At the root of the problem was the accuracy, consistency, timeliness and accessibility of data.
Like every wealth management company, the firm has several key applications — covering financial planning, trading, reconciliation, reporting, custody and CRM, among other capabilities — that have been built on a range of platforms or acquired from third-party vendors over a number of years. As a result, these legacy systems often connect and communicate poorly with each other, and with new products and platforms. This makes the firms’s advisors less productive.
“This is an industry-wide problem,” says Sourav Moitra, FSO Consulting Wealth and Asset Management Managing Director, Ernst and Young LLP. “There is no consistency in the data, and the ultimate impact on the client is a poor experience where they can’t even get a straight answer from their advisor about how much their portfolio is worth.”
Moitra explains that an advisor at the wealth management company will frequently find themselves having to enter the same data multiple times in different applications, which is laborious and frustrating. And, because data processing and communications between platforms are slow, they don’t enable advisors to see and act on the latest data in real time. For example, a customer’s net worth may vary depending on which platform the advisor is using, as some will update more quickly than others. And when an account is created for a new customer, the advisor typically can’t see it until the following day. This is frustrating for both parties.
As a result of these data-related issues, the wealth manager was losing advisors — and in turn, those advisors’ clients and their associated assets under management. Moreover, it couldn’t be as nimble as competitors in offering clients improved products or services. The company knew that it urgently needed to modernize its data integration architecture to be agile; however, its inflexible architecture was expensive to upgrade and time-consuming to modernize.
Building a data platform for the future
EY teams collaborated with the wealth management company on a solution that would provide a consistent user experience across multiple platforms and help enable advisors to leverage data in near real time. EY teams worked with the client’s technology team, led by the CIO and the head of architecture, to co-innovate solutions and build a data integration platform.
They began by addressing particular use cases. One of the most important was around customer account data, which didn’t update immediately because it was batch-based. The team built an event-driven architecture to help ensure account updates are reflected across applications in near real time, giving advisors confidence that any data they are viewing is now up to date. That means they can offer robust, up-to-the-minute advice and recommend product options that fit customers’ immediate needs.
Another key issue was the difficulty in getting different data platforms to communicate with each other. To address this problem, the team created an interoperability layer based on a canonical data model that aligns with a defined data taxonomy. This essentially means that any data flows, from whatever source and in whatever format, can be incorporated seamlessly without any disruption to operations, improving data quality and consistency. Again, this helps advisors provide timely and authoritative information and insights to customers — something that is essential for wealth management firms, helping to grow the business and retain advisors and their clients.
The EY team’s financial services knowledge was crucial in addressing these issues, as the teams carrying out the work had an in-depth understanding of the specific business needs the technology had to solve in the areas of data architecture and data flows, and the way these impact the experience of both advisors and customers.
Increasing the speed of transformation
Speed to market is essential in the highly competitive financial services sector; the first two phases of the project were completed in just nine months and the upgraded data architecture now enables the wealth manager to provide a seamless digital experience for advisors and customers alike, increasing their satisfaction with the organization. EY teams and the wealth management company are now working to define a larger scope of work that will expand on the components already built — and, crucially, form a scalable foundation that will make it easier and faster to innovate in the future, reducing complexity and risk.
As a result of innovations that EY teams developed with the client, its data architecture has become more agile and efficient, with a standardized data infrastructure in place. This has wider benefits for the wealth manager, which has an ambition to become a more product-oriented organization. The existing architecture did not support the accelerated development of new products, but the new data architecture will provide that much-needed agility.
“For any client, we want to help accelerate the time for implementation and transformation and reduce the cost,” says Moitra. “The solution we have built with this client tends to reduce the cost of overall transformation — and it is just the beginning; the components leveraged in this solution are part of a new business transformation platform we are developing, called EY Nexus for Wealth and Asset Management.”