Having our finger on the pulse of the wealth management industry allows us to develop solutions that address the challenges firms, like yours, face. To that end, hearing from folks at firms like Charles Schwab, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, BNY Mellon and Raymond James among many others at the Aite Wealth and Asset Management Forum on November 9th provided valuable insights on the current challenges they face.
It was encouraging that emphasis was being placed on improving the advisor experience and further empowering advisors to focus on the value they bring to their clients. In the past we have referred to this as augmenting the advisor with digital tools. Emphasis was placed on the fact that technology should in no way disintermediate the advisor but reduce administrative burden while presenting information about a client that would assist with engagement and the management of their book of business.
Striking a chord was the enthusiasm people had about doing things that “aren’t sexy”. In particular the benefit of integrating systems was a repeating theme. While integration is not tangible to advisors or clients the benefits are far reaching and can positively impact not just those cohorts but the operations of the business in its entirety.
What also stood out was a divergence of opinion on a few things. For instance, one perspective was that there is a low tolerance to mass customization of software to meet a firm’s specific objective while, conversely, firms want to extend their differentiation and what makes them unique.
As products sold across the wealth management industry are commoditized, we would argue that what will make a firm rise above the crowd is implementing technology that will extend the business practices that made them successful. By definition this would mean that out-of-the-box software that is hard to customize would place a firm at a disadvantage.
Additional topics such as; the impact ESG’s have on advice delivery, the value of data and how it is used to present advisors with recommendations on the next best action, the increasing adoption of AI and machine learning and the value it is delivering in production today, were discussed over the course of the day. The Aite-Novarica Group brought together a truly remarkable collection of people to attend their forum. We look forward to continuing the many conversations that were initiated and to sponsoring future events.