SS&C recently chaired the Technology and Innovation stream at The Summit for Wealth Management (TSWM) conference held in London on May 9. It was the inaugural event and attendees represented wealth management firms of all sizes, shapes and varieties. This provided a unique setting where diverse perspectives could be shared from senior leaders at boutique investment advisors all the way up to large wealth management teams within global banks, with representation from firms with AUMs ranging from under $500m to over $1T.
Certainly, there were distinct differences in challenges faced at both ends of that spectrum—but there were some very interesting commonalities.
- ESG is still a hot topic—and extremely polarizing. While there was a session explicitly devoted to sustainability practices in both the investment process and the management of the business—ESG kept coming up in other sessions. Whether it was about data being incorporated in portfolio management activities or inclusion in investor reporting—ESG was discussed often. What was most interesting is how committed some firms seem to it and how disinterested others seem. While ESG is very much a real trend in wealth management, it seems its day is yet to come. Like many things, there are two drivers that can push this to success or failure: 1) investor preference and 2) regulatory pressure.
- AI, ML, RPA, NLG (etc.) are key ingredients, not a finished product. As you might expect, in a stream of sessions entitled Technology and Innovation, we ended up discussing advanced technologies a lot. There were stories shared about successes with AI-based technologies—in fact, one of the conference keynote presentations by Tracey Davidson, Deputy CEO of Handelsbanken plc, mentioned a case where a firm in the UK used ChatGPT to respond to 1/3 of their customer service inquiries and use humans for the other 2/3 of volume. AI prevailed with an 80% satisfaction rating and the humans hovered around a 65% satisfaction rating. The panelists and attendees seemed to agree with this finding. AI in all its forms can quickly research and provide information. When you can incorporate human wisdom with that as an overlay, you have something scalable, powerful and trustworthy… the latter being likely most important. So harnessing these technologies to empower good people doing good work seems to be the target.
- Technology as a means to get more out of good employees, not replace them. Everyone was very excited about their plans or just the prospect of technology advancements available to improve their businesses. And virtually everyone seemed to agree that advanced technologies like ML, RPA, NLG/P, etc. empower good employees to do more in less time—not compete with them for their jobs. There was discussion of improving the quality of the workday for staff—not one speaker or audience member shared plans to reduce/replace staff with technology.
The discussion was both validating and illuminating, encapsulating a dialogue in the investment management industry focused on transformation and operational improvement.
SS&C Aloha is built to deliver transformation to our clients. Whether the emphasis is integrating ESG data into your investment and reporting process, leveraging innovative technologies to provide a richer user experience or driving efficiency in our clients’ operations, our focus has been squarely on developing a solution that helps our clients realize these objectives. Perhaps most importantly, we’ve built it all from the ground up to improve the user experience, not supplant users. Allowing skilled staff to be analysts rather than clerks—that’s what Aloha delivers. It was clear from the dialogue at TSWM that this is where leaders in the wealth management space are focused.
Written by Mike Kendall
Director of Global Product Strategy, SS&C Institutional & Investment Management