How “Techy” is wealth management?

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Wendy Spires explains just how techy wealth management is and why financial institutions are investing more in technology and what it means for you.

Like every other every area of life, the financial services sector is becoming increasingly technology-oriented, with clients engaging with institutions via a host of new channels and innovations coming thick and fast in all kinds of areas.

Security is naturally a top priority in the financial services space, and there have been many exciting new developments regarding identification and authentication. In recent weeks, it has emerged that one institution is trialling a biometric identification system for online banking where a special wristband will be used to read the unique rhythm of each client’s heartbeat, while one of the UK’s largest wealth managers has rolled out voice recognition technology to save clients the bother of having to learn yet another set of passwords.

Meanwhile, in more technologically advanced countries such as the Netherlands, Malaysia and Indonesia, digital identities are endorsed (and sometimes even required) by the authorities to carry out many kinds of government-related or financial services business. Rather than having to put a “wet signature” on a hard-copy document which must be physically moved about, in an increasing number of spheres you can use a digital signature system with features like an editing trail and date-stamps built in.

Some people are keener on technology innovation than others, of course, but the kind of innovations just described illustrate why technology take-up tends to exponential when a product or service really fulfils a want or need. The rise of tablet computers and smartphones has been staggering: tablets have already achieved the kind of market share it took television several decades to garner in a fraction of that time, while smartphones are spoken of as the fastest-growing technology in history. While many people would have doubted the need to have such powerful computing power in your pocket before smartphones became popular, many of those very same people will doubtlessly now be inseparable from their devices. Clearly, all it takes for a new technology to take off is for it to be easy to use and have clear benefits for the user.

Exponential technology take-up

And so it will probably also be with the cutting-edge developments happening at wealth managers and other financial institutions. Once clients are reassured that there is no additional security risk associated with using their voice pattern to identify themselves rather than passwords – and that indeed the former might actually be a safer method – then who wouldn’t relish fact that they do not have to come up with another combination of upper and lower case letters and numbers which as difficult to remember as it is to hack?

But wealth managers aren’t just investing in security. Giving clients more transparency and visibility about how their money is being managed is a big priority for many institutions today, which means that enhanced performance reporting is high on the agenda, along with innovative communication methods like video-calling and social media, and sophisticated systems for things like risk-profiling and portfolio monitoring.

But while wealth managers are certainly right to keep pace with the retail banking sector – and other non-financial ones – on technology, the industry will always be predominantly a people business. While there may be a place for so-called robo-advisors for those with very straightforward needs (particularly at the entry level), getting advice from a seasoned professional is where the real value of wealth management services comes in. Having a conversation with a financial adviser will be invaluable in drawing out your true attitudes and developing a holistic financial plan which will help you achieve a whole range of goals.

No matter how technologically advanced, most wealth managers in the proper sense of the word still place huge importance on face-to-face meetings with clients and will still provide paper statements in addition to offering online account access, for example.

Whatever level of technological innovation you are comfortable, there will be a wealth manager which precisely suits your preferences available on our panel of leading firms.  To discover which wealth managers precisely suit your needs simply try our smart online tool making sure to specify all your financial planning and investment requirements.

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