TOPIC // Capital Markets

Key Takeaways from the CGI 2017 Connections Conference

This year, CGI’s conference was in beautiful Naples, Florida. The conference, focused on CGI’s North American Wealth Management and Global Banking solutions, brings together analysts, thought leaders, and also all of CGI’s wealth and banking customers.

A lot of the conference in the wealth-track was focused on hybrid advice and robotic process automation (RPA). Alois Pirker from Aite presented on the topic and it flowed consistently as a message throughout the rest of the conference. There are three main drivers for digital disruption and change in the wealth industry: margins, regulations, and customer expectations are all pushing toward fee-based managed products, goals-based financial planning, but more importantly hybrid advice. Hybrid advice is both for the advisor using robotic process automation to automate rebalancing and other tasks to scale, but also for customers to have a spectrum of connected advisory options from fully managed discretionary products in a UMA to fully self-directed traditional robo. Yes, segmentation is important but don’t think that robo is just for the mass affluent. One of the key takeaways is to understand that, fundamentally, advisors need to scale and clients want personalized service – the only way to do both is with AI and RPA. AI for the customer-facing technology, RPA for the back-office technology.

Another key message: regulations are pushing in the same direction. So, when we talk about regulations it really isn’t about a scary compliance message – it’s just another driver pushing you in the same direction as the market disruptors and customer expectations anyways. Targeted reforms in Canada will definitely push productivity and efficiency optimization. Some food for thought: take the example of annual KYC reviews – how many clients does an advisor have? (about 200) How many days in a year are there? (about 200) So you’ll basically be repapering accounts every day for the rest of your life. Light-bulb moment: automate that as much as possible.

To that end, a top Canadian firm presented on their “platformization” which helps them connect their previously siloed managed product programs. Managed accounts have had a nearly 30% CAGR in the last decade for them. So integration and automation are key. They actually couldn’t secure funding from management to do this on their own. When they re-aligned to make it about productivity first and then bake in platformization – it was approved. Good take away here: if you need to get funding for digital initiatives, senior management will approve for advisor productivity.

Moving this to the front-office though, Digital Engagement vs Digital Advice came up as well around AI. Alois called it “nudging” – i.e. using life-event detection to trigger next-best-action/offer. Riskalize is a good example – it suggests what products/portfolios you should look at if your portfolio is under-performing and passes this as a referral to an advisor.

But with all of this came another consistent message: change or die! In order to move forward on these digital advice strategies, Agile DevOps is a must for any IT organization. Experts talked briefly about UBS+SigFig and TIAA+MyVest. One key point is that fintech needs to be good at solving a business problem but highly integrated. Integration is probably the lynchpin to a successful digital strategy. Obviously, I rejoice at that while working for a provider of powerful fintech focused on enterprise integration and customer-centric solutions.

The conference also gave us some good updates about CGI’s Wealth360 platform. Wealth360 is a fully-featured portfolio and order management system – that is purpose-built for industry leading practices; including UMH, UMA, and Goals-Based financial advice. It’s easily the most robust and flexible portfolio management platform I’ve seen, and its client track record for production success is a testament to that.

Another great conference, indeed. If you were also at the conference or you just want to get to know about more about my detailed insights on these topics, please share your thoughts below.

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