Julius Baer is creating the culture of a tech company within a bank, aiming to lead the modernisation of wealth management. From data scientists to software engineers, Julius Baer’s technology staff have an exciting opportunity to take part in an entrepreneurial story.
Long a laggard in the adoption of technology, wealth management is in the midst of a quiet revolution. It is digitising at speed, deploying AI, big data, robotics and other technologies to improve the client’s experience and enhance the trust at the heart of private banking relationships.
Leading this change is Julius Baer, among the most entrepreneurial of Swiss banks for more than 100 years since its birth in 1890. Being named ‘Best Digital Innovator of the Year, Global’ by Private Wealth Management (PWM) magazine at the Wealth Tech Awards 2021 confirms this enterprising spirit is thriving and being applied to digitising Julius Baer.
Won against fierce competition – with entries from 150 private banks around the world – the award reflects rapid progress: the age of Covid-19 has turbocharged Julius Baer’s technology programme, among other things leading to a digital client onboarding app, a new WhatsApp messaging channel and digital distribution of expert publications. Learning from ‘big tech’ firms like Apple and Amazon, Julius Baer is in the midst of an ‘agile transformation’, finding creative ways to use technology to lift the experience of its clients to a whole new level.
Explaining its strategy, Matthias, Head Channels and Innovation, describes applying technology to create convenience for clients and to complement trusting relationships. “We strongly believe that the trusting relationship between our relationship managers and clients will stay at the centre of everything, and that technology will help augment that trust. One key success factor is a unique design for convenience (user experience) for our private banking clients,” he says. “Trust is won over time. If we do technology right it will grow and harden that trust.”
An innovation culture
As the technology teams and their capabilities grow quickly, Julius Baer is continually launching, testing and then upgrading technology tools – working in close collaboration with clients. In the spirit of a tech ecosystem, Julius Baer is a founding partner of F10, the international fintech and insurtech incubator, monitoring the best ideas of the start-ups it hosts.
There is a sharp focus on quality of service and advice, as well as digitising internal processes for efficiency. Data and analytics are being used to support client advisors, giving greater insight into what clients need. Digital trading is being introduced, with reporting in near real time. Cybersecurity defences are being bolstered. And digital client service interfaces are being re-designed.
A recent success is Spark, as Shanil, Head Sales EAM & Banks explains. Originally launched in 2019, it is a structured products engine that combines AI and big data to equip intermediaries to build personalised solutions for clients in just a few seconds. On a path of continual innovation, Spark has already received several hundred incremental improvements, supported by a team of software engineers, quant specialists and business analysts/project managers.
Another innovation winning recognition is the Digital Advisory Suite: effectively an automated fintech advisor that helps relationship managers select suitable products for their clients that comply with complex new regulations.
Data science has considerable potential, helping to understand what individual clients need in terms of investments and servicing. Signifying its importance, Christian, Head Target Insights, asserts: “I believe that data science will change how the banking industry works – the trend towards being more data-driven is one of the main disruptors in the financial industry. Today it gives you an advantage but the whole industry will want it eventually.” That is why Julius Baer is already actively applying AI solutions across multiple fields to support the relationship managers in their decision making. To ensure these tools deliver the maximum value, Julius Baer is using the latest data science technology available and applying cutting edge methodology from research and academia.
Seeking curious new joiners
As befits a technology team that values creativity and curiosity, there is a flat hierarchy and careers can be built in whatever way suits an individual’s talents. People can pursue fruitful careers as subject matter experts, rather than becoming managers and leading teams or projects.
Julius Baer is looking for well-qualified young talents with creativity and curiosity, as well as experienced people, across a range of technology roles – including system architects, full stack developers, software developers, data scientists etc. “In my view, there’s almost no limit to the career opportunities on offer,” says Marc, Head Front Office Service Delivery (IT). “While we have progressed a long way already, we are still only at the beginning in some areas.”
Indeed, 2020 and 2021 have accelerated the pace of tech adoption, arguably making it one of Julius Baer’s core competencies and widening the value it offers to its clients.
For technology specialists that translates into an exciting opportunity to take the initiative, be part of something new and be at the vanguard of change that will improve the service offered to private banking clients broadly. “If you join us, you will be part of the transformation of wealth management; you will have more opportunity than you could hope for,” asserts Matthias. “You will be proud to be part of an entrepreneurial story.”