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Today, we are witnessing substantial shifts in how financial services information is vetted and delivered. Firms are searching for more efficient ways to gain insight from massive amounts of data so that they can track the efficacy of their products, strategies, and resources. As a result, data analytics and data visualization are proving to be valuable tools in the wealth management business.

We spoke with Stephen Daffron, chairman and CEO of BetaNXT, a provider of connected data solutions for the wealth management industry, about his views on growth opportunities, the use of AI, big data & blockchain in the wealth management space, and more.

What is it about the connected wealth/advisor industry that presents such a good growth opportunity?

Companies grow when they understand the details of their clients’ needs — the demand curve — and offer solutions that clearly address that demand. In today’s wealth management market that means solutions that streamline processes, reduce costs, and create opportunities for revenue. Solutions marked by the rise of new partnerships between advisors, investors, wealth management enterprises, and fintech companies. These connections are challenging, exciting, and ever evolving, so winning requires leaders to move quickly and embrace innovation.

Challenging and exciting because a new generation of investors is entering the industry, so the demand curve is morphing every day. These investors’ expectations for joined-up solutions and near-real-time answers creates pressure on advisors and the enterprises that support them to deliver features and functionality which accelerate processes, increase personalization, and digitize data front to back.

Not everyone understands or responds effectively to these challenges. We can see from the debris when advisors abandon enterprises that have unintegrated technology stacks that drive up costs via incessant reconciliations and require advisors to play swivel-chair roulette.

Platforms that don’t “speak” to one another aren’t able to facilitate a curated view of data, and therefore can’t deliver the coherent, near-real time answers this new generation demands. The mounting debris reinforces the need for connected data which allows hyper-personalization and digitization. To win, every wealth management enterprise must address these client/advisor needs.

At BetaNXT, our vision of connected wealth solves clients’ most pressing challenges via connected data, and that connectivity is the foundation for our entire suite of solutions. Why did we build this connected wealth platform? Because our research shows firms that leverage connected data are uniquely positioned to win and those are the clients we want to be in business with.

Connected data integrates all the information necessary for a client’s wealth to be managed via joined-up solutions and near-real-time delivery. It supports a solutions-based ecosystem, united by a connected data architecture, that streamlines operations and improves an advisor’s ability to deliver personalized analysis and advice to their clients — while driving down enterprise costs by eliminating reconciliations.

Connected wealth serves the needs of operational leaders to reduce costs, increase efficiency, and deliver a technology ecosystem that supports a range of advisory models, including RIAs. It also directly supports the advisors themselves by reducing administrative inefficiencies and constant reconciliations while serving them curated content to support their clients. This creates a flywheel effect that ultimately provides the end investor with a modern, frictionless experience tailored to their needs and preferences.

How have AI, big data, and blockchain changed the landscape for wealth management?

The landscape of contemporary wealth management is being reshaped by the forces of new client expectations for more and better products, faster and more accurate reporting, and hyper-personalized advice. Wealth enterprises must support their advisors to enable them to navigate this new terrain. A huge part of that support comes in the form of new and better technology managing new and better data. Al, big data, and blockchain are integral to that support — they accelerate processes that have traditionally been time-intensive and manual — which advisors and investors will no longer accept.

Big data, for example, when curated with contextual variables, can enable advisors to visualize alternative scenarios in near-real-time to engage with their clients on more complex portfolios. AI, big data, and blockchain are tools powering a faster, more efficient system of delivering advice and content that is precisely targeted to individual clients.

AI gets lots of attention across the wealth management industry and rightly so — it is showing early promise to increase productivity and streamline communications that drag on productivity. Believing the breathless hype, though, is dangerous. We believe that effective AI is a long game that relies on carefully constructed data architecture and well-tested algorithmic implementation. AI is not going anywhere and will only become more prominent as it matures — but there is a right way and a wrong way to develop and implement it.

Remember this basic rule: AI is only as good as the data it models. If you focus on the integrity of the data curation powering AI rather than rushing it into your processing flow for the sake of speed and marketing splash, you will achieve better results and avoid the hallucinogenic egg-on-your-face that many others are wearing.

Additionally, and we are seeing this play out in real time as SEC Chair Gary Gensler opines, so we don’t yet know how our regulatory partners will act on applications of AI. So, for now, we suggest that the extra effort to ensure data privacy and consumer protections stay at the forefront of all AI innovation in the wealth management space.

How do you manage privacy concerns?

By keeping every aspect of the advisor/investor/enterprise in a coherent data architecture. Simply said, one can see and respond to a privacy gap faster in a fully digitized, end-to-end wealth management experience with a connected, well-curated data set faster and more reliably than in the most well-fortified, multi-layered manual process. We make a point of ensuring that our flexible data offerings provide end-to-end visibility across all processes and applications, which enables us and our customers to monitor data and ensure it remains safe. Privacy gaps stand out like a black eye at the end of recess.

For example, at BetaNXT we have a fully integrated security master pre-connected to a reference data platform to provide secure valuation, pricing, and settlement. Any errant security data is cross-referenced, corrected, and the source of the error is flagged automatically for investigation. We offer secure data hosting as part of our multi-cloud data integration strategy. We also provide transparent privacy policies and consent mechanisms for users.

What type of technology do you see being created?

Complete digitization is being demanded and is therefore being created at a dizzying pace. Despite claims of digital experience for their advisors, no wealth management enterprise today has a fully digitized communications and processing flow. Ask any of them to demonstrate their digitized flow for corporate action processing and you will quickly see the reality of residual manual and analog functions.

But complete digitization is required to achieve the hyper-personalized experiences being demanded and a fully connected data architecture is only possible when all aspects of practice management are digitized. KYC, regulatory reports, performance analysis, corporate events, and all client communications (think proxy and prospectus) must be digital, so enterprises can take full advantage of cloud-based operating systems designed to run at pace and grow at scale with the advisors that rely on them.

Today’s clients expect the right information presented in a digestible, visual form, and they expect it right now. We need to provide digitized content and processes to enable them to securely obtain the information and explanations they demand–from any source at any time.

And it is happening: New technology to facilitate data delivery from an integrated, enterprise model — eliminating reconciliations, speeding up transaction and processing timelines, and reducing the risk of data compromise. That delivery is rapidly moving from archaic file transfers towards flexible, cloud-based APIs to allow new features and solutions to be rapidly introduced and integrated.

What are your thoughts about the coming year and are you optimistic about the marriage of connected data and wealth management?

Connected wealth is the future of our industry and will continue to drive dramatic change in wealth management. With advisors looking for ways to stand out amongst their peers and enterprises looking for ways to attract and grow, they need connected data to succeed. The key to winning in contemporary wealth management is to recognize the connection between connected wealth and connected data.

Connected wealth and connected data allow advisors and investors to:

  • Be fully present in the moment, supported by the ability to act in real time and take advantage of instantaneous opportunities.
  • See their clients’ world digitized, visualized, curated, and automated as they engage.
  • Hold multiple conversations simultaneously.
  • Focus on what matters most — client interaction — rather than playing swivel-chair roulette.

At BetaNXT, we are fully engaged in making this vision of connected wealth stemming from connected data a reality designed to resolve our clients’ most pressing challenges.

Reprint: Connected Money

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