Covid-19 and the aftermath: Impact on the industry

We are in the middle of one of the worst health crises the world has experienced in decades and COVID-19 has not only caused socio-economic disruption but also impacted nearly all sectors and geographies across the globe. Wealth management is one of the vulnerable sectors with highly correlated revenues to capital market performance. Despite recovery in capital markets in recent weeks especially in the US, many WMs have not seen their assets to pre-Covid levels as many European and Emerging markets are still much lower than pre-Covid levels .This has accentuated the pressure on revenues and calls for cost optimization & prudence on middle-back office functions.

Wealth management operations perform some of the most critical tasks including client onboarding checks, account setup, trading, asset transfers, etc. The immediate impact on operations was managing extremely high trade volumes and ensuring that critical processes continued to run smoothly. Most firms did not have business continuity and operations readiness plans for an event of this nature. Firms must therefore realize that this adversity presents an opportunity to resolve immediate priorities (BCP, automate critical and high effort tasks, etc.) and redefine longer term strategy to align with the paradigm shifts for an optimized operations framework.

Even before Covid-19, there was a paradigm shift that was already underway in Wealth Management operations and the pandemic merely exposed or amplified the need for Next generation operations transformation. Primary drivers of the shift were client expectations for personalized portfolios and changing priorities, growing regulations and need for real-time compliance reporting and increased competition from FinTech.

As an example, trade operations teams have always had pain points including manual reconciliation leading to delays in trading, lack of straight through processing, lower accuracy and increasing processing time, etc. Firms with higher operations maturity have relied on automation investments for e.g. automated settlement and reconciliation to minimize the impact of volatility due to COVID. Firms with lower maturity have had to rely on shuffling teams to manage trades, resources spending longer hours to complete daily trading and settlement.

What will it take to win in a post Covid world?

In today’s world, operations must not be seen as just ‘support’ but a mission-critical function. This is because acquisition costs can generate a compelling ROI only over the next 3-5 years when the wallet share is deepened. For deepening of wallet share, delivering a superior CX is critical which can happen only when wealth management firms can exceed advisor and client expectations.

For immediate resolutions, the firms should perform Next generation operations transformation’ strategy can help wealth management firms with automation capabilities, process mining and outsourcing to drive maturity and bring efficiencies

wealth-management-framework

The framework should be built out in modular fashion for reusability.

Incedo believes for firms to emerge as winners in the long term, they must consider three key shifts in the way operations are managed and run. Next generation operations transformation’ strategy can help wealth management firms with automation capabilities, process mining and outsourcing to drive maturity and bring efficiencies.

Next generation operations transformation

  • Change the objective from cost efficiency to customer experience. An optimal and holistic client experience involves minimal manual touchpoints, fewer documentation and faster turnaround time for onboarding, account maintenance requests, asset transfers etc.
  • Wealth management firms should aim to “Re-imagine processes” rather than focus on ‘process standardization’. It goes beyond process standardization by mining data, deriving insights and determining best action to digitize and automate sub-standard processes
  • Firms need to focus on outcome driven KPIs rather than traditional transaction SLAs. Derive success metrics of the end to end process rather than measuring siloed metrics. For e.g. for client onboarding the key outcome to focus on is when the account is funded and ready for trading rather than measuring individual process steps for submission, set up, etc.

Over the last few years, firms have invested in automation and process improvement initiatives but have not been able to achieve maturity in their operations transformation journey.

We believe that these initiatives are not realizing their expected outcomes because:

  1. Automation solutions deployed in silos instead of reviewing the overall customer journey
  2. Firms are automating the current underlying processes as-is which could be inefficient and hence not achieving higher returns on investment
  3. Focus on automating the product features rather than customer journey
  4. Data & AI not collected and analyzed sufficiently to perform data driven decision making

To learn more about how to rethink your next generation operations transformation initiatives and how Incedo can partner with you in your journey, mail us at inquiries@incedoinc.com

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