The rise of new technologies and growing complexity of doing business mean that wealth managers and intermediaries alike need to adapt. At Julius Baer, we are looking to the opportunities of new technology. For intermediaries, it is crucial to have a clearly defined business strategy.
Intermediaries’ challenges and opportunities
Technology allows Julius Baer to give intermediaries better access to trading floors and gateways, including the trading and payments process, portfolio management capability and potential credit lines. It can help to manage the cost of delivery and improve reporting capabilities. Intermediaries and external asset managers more generally face many of the same challenges as Julius Baer. These include the complexity and cost of regulation, as well as the challenges of clients’ cross border affairs and changing tax legislation. Broadly speaking, the cost of doing business is rising.
Consequently, it is crucial for intermediaries to clearly define their business strategies. They must clearly define which clients they want to service in terms of wealth segments and region. And they must decide which products and services their target client base requires. Then intermediaries can decide what products and services will be proprietary and what they want to outsource. Being smart in terms of investing profitably for clients will no longer be enough, particularly given the commoditisation of some areas of the investment industry. Technology has a role to play. Just as for Julius Baer technology is improving client service, and making more tools available, so too intermediaries can use it to improve their offering to clients.
New tech supports old relationships
Over the past five years Julius Baer has invested almost CHF 1 billion on new technology. With the potential benefits that technology can deliver for clients increasing, we intend to continue investing at that rate. For wealth managers, technology-related innovation is a game changer in two areas. It strengthens the core business by improving services, sharpening client focus, streamlining operations and cutting cost. It also brings the strategic flexibility needed to add or remove products and services. Yet it would be wrong to invest in technology for its own sake. Julius Baer has been protecting and growing clients’ wealth for 130 years, based on strong personal relationships. That will not change. Where there will be a paradigm shift is in the tools required to do so. For example, clients may want to be able to trade tokenised assets or to have augmented reality assist reporting. The younger members of clients’ families might also want to receive more digital services. But the strength of relationship managers’ understanding of clients will always be Julius Baer’s core strength. Technology will provide them with ways to share their insights in smarter ways, as well as new tools for investment, reporting and self-service.
Setting the right course
Julius Baer wants intermediaries to thrive, acknowledging the important role they play in wealth management. For that reason, we have developed the Business Navigator approach, which we believe can help intermediaries to set the right strategy. Julius Baer wants to offer not just the right products and services for intermediaries but also advice about how to develop the business across its lifecycle.
Looking ahead to the next 10 years, new technology will play a very important role in differentiating between winners and losers. But it must be viewed in the right context. Technology provides the tools to deliver the right proposition for clients. Strong relationships are the key to wealth management. That means wealth managers and intermediaries alike do not always need to be at the forefront of new technology trends but should stay nimble and adapt.
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Technology allows Julius Baer to improve services for intermediaries. Rising complexity and cost mean that intermediaries need to clearly define their business strategies. Julius Baer has invested almost CHF 1 billion on new technology in the past five years. Tech-related innovation is a game changer in so far as it strengthens the core business and boosts flexibility. But strong personal relationships still lie at the heart of wealth management.