Early in my career, I co-founded Financial Technology Integrators where I led the development of InvestorsView, an all-in-one portfolio management solution for wealth managers. At the time, our mostly front office users performed the majority of their work manually, so InvestorsView represented a significant step toward automation for them. However, our user's desire to serve all the unique needs of their clients often confounded our effort to automate their required tasks fully. Over time, an eighty-twenty-eighty rule began to emerge, i.e., when a solution automates eighty percent of a user's work, the remaining twenty percent takes eighty percent of their time.
It has been over a decade since SunGard Wealth Management (now FIS) acquired InvestorsView. Recently, I assisted one of our customers, a mid-size wealth management firm, with the development and implementation of a performance measurement solution on the Flow Analytics platform. While helping this customer, I began exploring how wealth management technology had progressed over the past decade or so and was surprised to discover that, despite an ever-growing number of available solutions, the eighty-twenty-eighty automation rule still applies to many wealth management firms.
All-in-One or Best-of-Breed
It seemed odd that despite the high number of quality solutions available to them, wealth management firms would continue struggling to find and adopt technologies that solved their unique business challenges. So, I decided to do a little more research which led to this series of blog posts.
As changing demographics, evolving client expectations, and continued innovation by competitors weaken current and prospective client’s affiliation with traditional wealth management; wealth managers must justify their position as a premium priced service provider. Therefore, they must continue to meet their client's demands for high-touch, personalized service which requires firms to leverage their position as trusted custodians of client data. However, effectively leveraging client data requires efficient and flexible business processes centered around data integration and aggregation. Current wealth management IT strategy seeks to achieve this efficiency and flexibility in one of two ways: the all-in-one or the best-of-breed solution.
All-in-one solutions promise to solve data integration, aggregation, and processing challenges by providing a single platform for reporting, CRM, marketing, sales, operations, and business intelligence. In today's highly competitive and rapidly evolving environment, a well-implemented all-in-one solution may meet most of a firm's needs in the short term. However, in the medium to long-term, all-in-one solutions may be more like an aircraft carrier defending against a drone swarm: a powerful, large, overly expensive system sunk by a smaller, cheaper, less expensive technology.
The limitations of all-in-one solutions have led many firms to attempt implementation of various best-of-breed solutions. This approach requires firms to select and implement the best line-of-business application for each of their needs. However, implementing a best-of-breed solution is complicated and often results in issues with data integration, process orchestration, and technical support, among others. Moreover, the resulting solution rarely supports all a firm's unique client information and reporting needs.
Competition and Disruptive Technologies
While wealth management firms realize the disruptive potential of new competitors, available technology choices constrain their response. Moreover, the downward pressure on fees due to increased competition and new regulations has forced firms to focus on the implementation of technologies that improve efficiency and lowers costs instead of innovation. Therefore, few firms are building the data integration and aggregation capabilities required to automate their current service delivery process and thus cannot deliver more advanced services such as client data aggregation, personalization, targeted content delivery, and client engagement across multiple channels.
In the near term, lack of innovation is not fully impacting firms, as clients with sophisticated needs continue to gravitate to them. However, in the medium to long-term, changing demographics, evolving expectations, and continued innovation by competitors will weaken current and prospective client’s affiliation to traditional wealth management.
The Flow Analytics FinTech Series
Based on long experience with over-hyped technologies that did not live up to their promise, wealth managers have a healthy skepticism of new technologies. Therefore, in this series of posts, I not only discuss how Flow Analytics, no-code solution development, and data automation can be used to solve current and emerging business challenges, I provide accessible, real-world examples of solutions readers can try for themselves.
Can't Find a Solution? Challenge Us
Do you have a challenging manual task or process that is inefficient, takes more time than it should, and you would like to automate, but you've been able to find a solution. Tell us about it, and we'll design a data automation workflow to overcome your challenge. Just go to our contact us page and either call us, send us a message with the subject "I have a challenge," or use the email link.