Lessons from the front-lines of launching digital wealth platforms
Banks in Asia, and around the globe, face a challenge. More and more customers from their large and growing retail customer base are digitally active, and they want personalized investment solutions available anytime and anywhere.
A major concern for banks and wealth advisory firms is how they can satisfy their customers’ evolving wealth management expectations. Not to act is not an option. Not only are some innovative banks rolling out their digital offering but non-bank competitors, like nimble Fintech companies and even Big Tech companies, are also creating their own offerings to lure customers.
How then can a bank create an attractive digital offering quickly, as time to market is increasingly crucial? Quantifeed’s multiyear experience from successfully implementing and launching digital wealth management offers a few hints as to what the success factors are.
First, start small and focused. That is, pick a single investment application or journey and launch a simple but consistent offering quickly. The advantages to that approach are many and cannot be overestimated. Most obviously, deployment time and complexity are reduced, leading to a shorter time-to-market. The inaugural launch of a digital platform must be accompanied by an extensive marketing campaign. Marketing is more effective and the message more concise, if the initial offering is compact. Consequently, early adopters might be more comfortable with a well-defined and clear investment journey, without being overwhelmed by a flood of functionality. Finally, internal stakeholders need to see early results of the viability and performance of the platform. This is important, as early innovators might enjoy an advantage over late movers. Customers, once on-boarded, are likely to stick with their digital wealth management provider.
Second, build upon the first journey. Once launched, feedback from customers and key stakeholders acts as a guide to expand and modify the existing journey, and to launch additional, entirely new journeys. This ties in with an agile and customer-focused development process.
It is important to realise that the functionality of the front-end only represents a small fraction of the complexity of the system. Most of the processes are hidden from users, or even administrators. The platform needs to deal with a complex web of factors ranging from settlement and system requirements dictated by legacy infrastructure, ensuring the customer experience is intuitive during every interaction such as rebalancing, top-ups and withdrawals. The commercial value of a digital offering lies in its scalability. Any platform that requires human intervention in the back office will not scale well. The start-small-and-expand approach ensures scalability. Once live, the addition of more investment journeys is much easier than the initial integration, as the same engine drives the required functionality for different journeys.
As to which user journey should be the first one, we have observed different choices amount our clients. Some institutions opt for an investment journey based on topical thematic portfolios, dominated by equities, others start with a small set of global portfolios diversified across multiple asset classes, including equities and bonds, while a third group starts with an investment journey to help customers meet their financial goal. All these different starting points can lead to success with a large and engaged user base.