Robo Advisory as Investment Enablers

Digital wealth management technology, more commonly known as robo-advisory, has enabled financial institutions everywhere to offer innovative and relevant financial services and reach underserved customers. It has encouraged more first-time investors to start their wealth journey and democratised wealth management previously only made available to HNW investors. Robo-advisors are digital platforms that provide automated, algorithm-driven financial planning services with little to no human supervision. A typical robo-advisor asks questions about your financial situation and future goals through an online survey; it then uses the data to offer advice and automatically invest for you. (Source)

Revive Tech Asia 2022 Panel Discussion

On August 24, 2022, Alex Ypsilanti, Co-Founder and CEO of Quantifeed took part in a panel discussion together with Aqumon and Kristal AI at Revive Tech Asia 2022. Moderated by Arthur Shek, Managing Director of McKinsey & Company, speakers contributed to a rich discussion around major shifts in investor behaviour, their expectations from wealth managers today, and bold predictions for the future.

The session kicked off with an observation on the biggest change in investors in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Wealth management and financial services have experienced at least some degree of digital transformation, with the masses becoming comfortable banking or receiving investment advice on the internet and mobile devices. From this, Alex noted that it is critical for financial institutions to create investment experiences that lead to loyalty and trust. “Investors want choice. The choice also needs to be given delightfully, simply, and conveniently”, he added.

Hong Kong Investors VS Other Regions

Not all investors want the same thing. Hong Kong investors differ slightly from other regions in the world. In fact, Mainland China’s wealth management landscape looks very different. Kelvin Lei, CEO and Co-Founder of Aqumon noted, “There is not much of an advisor market in Mainland China compared to the West. Robo-advisory in Mainland China is still a new concept with a low adoption rate. Chinese investors also prefer guaranteed returns from the bank”.

Alex added, “Asian consumers are not monolithic. It’s evident in our solution offering to Taiwan’s Cathay United Bank, where they prefer to invest in a way that allows them to personalise and customise their portfolio. While in Singapore, QEngine enables DBS to offer their investors simple and straightforward investment options based on their risk appetite. That has worked well for them.”

There are also differences between the East and West in the way investors like to manage their portfolios. Vivek Mohidran, Founder of Kristal AI shared, “Money in Asia was made in this generation so Asian investors tend to prefer making investment decisions themselves. They enjoy independent trading and expect higher returns from their investments. But in the West, current investors are at least in their second generation and don’t mind lower returns as long as it means they can be less hands-on”.

Will Robo-Advisors take over Wealth Managers?

The technology and intelligence behind robo-advisory has automated advice, providing relevant investment portfolios to customers, making it easy for them to make investment decisions. So what does it mean for human advisors and asset managers? The discussion panel members made it very clear that robo-advisors and wealth management platforms do not seek to replace professional advisors but aim to equip and empower them.

“We want to empower advisors our there. There will always be a need for a human relationship manager or advisor, but they can benefit from automation and more data analytics. Then advisors would have more time in the day to build their business and develop stronger relationships with their current clients”, Alex explained. He added, “The emergence of hybrid advice, the combination of digital servicing and an advisor, is something that is increasing in popularity”.

Robo-Advisors and Private Banking

Although digital wealth management benefits the mass affluent, there is certainly a place for it in Private Banks. Vivek noted that digital wealth management technology can be used to reduce the cost of delivery. Private Banks can then provide more products at a lower entry cost. The advisor will be more technologically enabled, capable of managing 100 clients instead of just the 15. Adding to that, client retention can be ensured as they’re tied to the platform and not the advisor.”

Quantifeed also serves private banks such as Thailand’s Phatra Private Bank, enabling their advisors to service more clients, scale their business, and improve productivity. Powered by QEngine, private wealth advisors can work seamlessly on a single platform and be equipped with data analytics that will help them make accurate and relevant recommendations to their clients. Read more about our Advisor-Led solution for Private Banks here.

Final Thoughts

In a nutshell, wealthtech has been a catalyst in wealth management, and is here to stay. Wealth management will never be less digital and Quantifeed looks forward to pushing the boundaries of what wealthtech can do for everyone. The panel discussion closed with Moderator Arthur Shek, asking for bold predictions for the next 5-10 years. Alex shared his final thoughts, “Although digital wealth management is still in its early stages, things are moving fast. In a few years, there will be very few differences between financial institutions and FinTechs. The different fragments of consumer banking services will eventually unify and there would be no reason why all of it cannot be accessible on a single platform.”

Thank you Revive Tech Asia 2022 for having us on this exciting panel discussion! We are excited to create more innovative wealth solutions and continue to contribute to the FinTech community of Hong Kong.

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    Ross Milward

    Chief Technology Officer &
    Co-Founder

    Ross Milward leads Quantifeed’s technology and engineering efforts to deliver innovative digital wealth management solutions. Before co-founding Quantifeed, he spent more than 15 years in investment banking, holding senior positions in equity and equity derivatives technology.

    His expertise is in developing and managing large-scale enterprise-level global trading and risk systems. A former managing director, Ross has worked for Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Deutsche Bank. He has held multiple global and regional leadership roles, most recently as head of equities technology in Asia. He has worked in Hong Kong, Sydney and London.

    Ross holds a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science with Honours and is a Fellow of the Securities Institute of Australia. He likes pushing his limits through long distance triathlon races.

    Michael McDonald

    Head of Web Engineering

    Michael McDonald builds Quantifeed’s online wealth management web application in order to deliver a user-friendly and integrated experience. Michael has over 11 years of experience in web application development.

    As Developer for Crossroads Hong Kong, he and his team set up the infrastructure for its donation and stock management application. As Developer at e-commerce company Synapse Connect in New Zealand, he and his team helped clients build mobile applications like prospersoftware.nz, providing him with a full-stack web development and DevOps skillset, servicing clients and back-office operations.

    Michael holds a Bachelor degree in Electrical and Computing Engineering from University of Canterbury New Zealand. He moved to Hong Kong in 2014 and enjoys the outdoors sports such as hiking and cycling.

    Joy Sun

    Head of Quantitative Engineering

    Joy steers Quantifeed’s research and development in systematic investment strategies, portfolio construction and trade execution. Prior to joining Quantifeed, she worked as a quantitative analyst in asset management and proprietary trading firms.

    She led development of trading strategies, including design,simulation and risk control, and research in market trend recognition and prediction. Joy earned her PhD in Operations Research from the University of Hong Kong, her MS in Statistics from Nan Kai University and her BS in Computational Mathematics from Dalian University of Technology.

    John Threlfall

    Head of Site Reliability Engineering

    John leads the SRE team in Singapore and is responsible for the overall infrastructure and SDLC of Quantifeed’s technology platform, QEngine. He ensures the design, availability, and reliability meets the requirements of both our internal and external users. He has over 20 years’ experience in the banking industry, with a demonstrated history in transforming back-office technology and developing reliable engineering systems for large financial institutions.

    Prior to joining Quantifeed, John held technical and leadership roles at Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Standard Chartered Bank. He holds a BSc degree in Artificial Intelligence from The University of Manchester in the United Kingdom. John moved to Singapore in 2008 and enjoys travelling with his family, football and scuba diving.

    Lars Bischoff

    Head of Core Engineering 

    Lars Bischoff is a lead senior software engineer on Quantifeed’s back-end services, with a focus on trading and external interfaces.

    Before joining Quantifeed, Lars had a number of leadership roles across major investment banks including Deutsche Bank, JP Morgan, UBS, and Citi. These roles included designing and implementing systems for Equities and Equity Derivatives Trading. Lars also held roles as country lead for Equities and Equity Derivatives Technology, as well as global lead for Equity Derivatives Trading.

    As a former Executive Director in Deutsche Bank and JP Morgan, Lars has extensive experience in building local and global development teams. In this capacity, he also defined and realised the technology direction and innovative platforms in the Equity and Equity Derivatives space for these two organisations. Lars holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science, from Macquarie University, Sydney.

    Chetan Shetty

    Head of Product Management

    Chetan leads Quantifeed’s product management capability and drives the implementation of features in our product that continuously solve digital wealth management problems for our clients.

    Chetan started his career as a software engineer in the aerospace industry working across the entire software development lifecycle. Subsequently he worked in various roles helping large enterprises in Hong Kong solve business problems with process and technology solutions. His experience ranges across aviation, insurance, public sector services and consulting. He has lived and worked across multiple countries and enjoys travelling to new places, tasting new cuisines and occasionally writing his blogs.

    Parul Srivastava

    Head of Delivery & Singapore Country Head

    Parul Srivastava leads Quantifeed’s Delivery function. She enables Quantifeed customers to successfully adopt and launch innovative digital wealth management solutions. Parul brings 18 years of strong experience in the financial services industry, her knowledge edges across the delivery lifecycle and wealth domain areas including AML, KYC, client onboarding and Payments. She is experienced in managing complex , high value enterprise level programs with leading Banks like SCB , BNPP, OCBC and Technology Service providers like Cognizant, BAE Systems , Fenergo. She has worked vastly for APAC and EMEA region deliveries primarily based out of Singapore.

    Parul Holds a Master’s in Business Administration in Finance and Accounting and is Certified PMI- Project Management Professional, Scaled Agilist, Scrum Master(CSM) and Product owner (CSPO). Beyond work she is interested in Art and Travel.

    Conor Doyle

    Head of Pre-Sales

    Conor has over 20 years of experience of leading sales and service teams in high-growth financial software vendor organisations. His previous work experience focuses on leading multinational, cross-functional teams in the provision of leading-edge, highly complex and high-value fintech business solutions.

    Conor is an expert presenter, negotiator, and business operations manager; able to forge solid relationships with both clients and partners and build consensus across multiple organisational levels. He has demonstrated capacity for leadership and project management, with proven track record of meeting targets, overcoming challenges in real time, and delivering tangible results.

    Conor is bilingual (English and Japanese) with strong technical and integration experience and a Mechanical Engineering degree.

    Robert Rice

    Chief Sales Officer

    Robert Rice leads Quantifeed’s sales strategy and works with clients to define and deliver digital wealth management solutions. Based in Hong Kong for over 15 years, Robert has held sales leadership roles in APAC and EMEA at London Stock Exchange Group (formerly Refinitiv), Fitch Solutions, OFX and SNL Financial, leading teams servicing wealth managers, asset managers and financial institutions.

    His career is focused on brining innovative platforms, products and solutions to market helping clients meet their objectives. Robert is an appointed Mentor for the Hong Kong Fintech Week advising start-ups and market entrants on various topics and go to market initiatives.

    Audrey Wong

    Chief Operating Officer &
    Chief Financial Officer

    Audrey Wong manages operations and financial affairs to deliver on Quantifeed’s business strategy. Audrey joined Quantifeed from Bank of America Merrill Lynch, where she was COO for the equities division in Asia Pacific. Audrey’s tenure at Merrill Lynch included senior assignments in Toronto and New York, before relocating to Hong Kong in 2006 to take a new role as the Finance Head of Equities Derivatives for APR.

    Her responsibilities expanded to CFO of APAC Equities in 2011 and CFO for APAC Global Markets in 2013. Audrey holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Brock University of Ontario. She is also a Chartered Professional Accountant of Ontario and Chartered Financial Analyst. Audrey enjoys biking and swimming with her two children.

    John Robson

    Chief Commercial Officer

    John Robson drives Quantifeed’s client partnerships. He works with financial institutions to assist them in developing their digital wealth management future. Based in Hong Kong for over 30 years, he has held regional leadership roles at JP Morgan, Nomura and Merrill Lynch managing teams which serviced the region’s consumer and private banks.

    His career has been focused on the development of investment platforms and products. He has been instrumental in introducing significant product innovation to wealth management platforms in Hong Kong, London and Tokyo.

    Alex Ypsilanti

    Chief Executive Officer &
    Co-Founder

    Alex Ypsilanti spearheads Quantifeed’s mission to solve the challenges of digital wealth management.

    Before co-founding Quantifeed, he spent fifteen years as an investment banking research analyst. His work enabled investors to improve their risk-adjusted returns and to gain access to a wider range of market strategies and risk premia. Alex, a top ranked analyst by Institutional Investor, had a leading role in the growth of the European ETF market, hedge fund replication and the use of volatility products in portfolios.

    A former managing director for Morgan Stanley and Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Alex has built and led teams of derivatives and quantitative strategists in London, Tokyo and Hong Kong.

    Alex holds Bachelors and Masters degrees in Information Systems Engineering and a PhD in Mathematical Finance from Imperial College, University of London.