Does convergence mean cannibalization or creation?

By

Mike Lee

EY Global Wealth & Asset Management Leader

Spirited leader for wealth and asset management. Champion for change. Driven to produce better outcomes and simplify the complex. Passionate about family, friends and sports.

3 minute read 29 Mar 2018

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Why the “tech threat” to wealth and asset management is an opportunity - for both sides.

We have all heard that the wealth and asset management industry is being disrupted by the technology and e-commerce giants that dominate today’s digital world.

This idea has been expressed so often in recent years that it has become widely accepted, even if it is not yet matched by reality.

According to this view, smart and agile technology companies are poised to sweep away longstanding relationships, overturn the distribution of investment advice services and reduce even the most successful investment managers to the status of anonymous product suppliers.

So why is this still yet to happen? After all, no one doubts that technology companies have compelling capabilities in data analysis, artificial intelligence and user experience — not to mention levels of customer trust that many financial organizations would envy.

Why tech firms haven’t swept away the traditional wealth and asset managers

I suspect that the prospect of financial regulation, and its associated costs and risks, has restricted technology firms from making a full-scale assault on the financial advice market — so far.

That does not mean that investment firms can afford to relax. Technology is already changing the world of financial advice, and I expect disruption to accelerate.

But I don’t expect to see the largest technology firms transforming into asset managers, or rebranding as investment intermediaries.

Instead, they will likely offer two of their world-class capabilities — managing data and understanding customer behavior — to help enhance the work of wealth and asset managers.

Collaborating to compete

More specifically, leading technology firms will use their unmatched ability in data management and analysis to give investment firms totally new ways to segment, understand and interact with investors.

Delivering these types of insights will not be easy. For one thing, investor data will need to be managed in ways that keep technology firms outside the perimeter of traditional financial regulation. But I’m sure they will find a way to make it happen.

Capabilities like this will not only allow advisors and managers to give investors more customized advice, but also to tailor how they provide it — helping them to give every investor the perfect combination of human and digital contact.

Improved customer insights

Better data management and analytics will enable firms to move away from their historic reliance on segmentation by age, income or wealth, and to build detailed investor profiles based on individual behavior.

To grasp the power of this concept, imagine if investment firms could replicate the strength, simplicity and frequency of technology companies’ customer interactions.

Investors would begin to view their interactions with their investment firm as a natural and organic part of their daily activities, because features like custom recommendations, advisor reviews and simple-to-understand reporting would not only all be seamlessly at their fingertips, but would also be more captivating.

That would lead to increasing engagement and trust. And that could encourage investors to put more focus on achieving financial well-being.

In short, collaborating to compete could allow investment and technology companies to create an ecosystem that improves the financial well-being of all investors.

Convergence and simplicity


The possibility of increasing investor engagement in this way illustrates the importance of the two key themes highlighted in my last blog: the power of convergence and the need for simplicity.

First, bringing together behavioral insight and financial advice is a perfect example of how the power of convergence is reshaping wealth and asset management.

Second, acquiring behavioral insights from external providers will help investment firms avoid spending heavily on trying to emulate the technology specialists. Instead firms can concentrate on the areas in which they truly excel.

This would be a win-win situation for investment firms and technology companies alike. And it would be hugely positive for investors across the globe.

But above all, it would show that technological disruption is not something for the investment industry to fear, but something to get excited about.

This blog is part of a series from Mike Lee on convergence in wealth and asset management.

Summary

Rather than fearing tech’s power, wealth and asset managers should collaborate with tech firms to seize new opportunities.

About this article

By

Mike Lee

EY Global Wealth & Asset Management Leader

Spirited leader for wealth and asset management. Champion for change. Driven to produce better outcomes and simplify the complex. Passionate about family, friends and sports.