Asia’s thriving economies have produced millionaires with an entrepreneur’s need to know about the components of his portfolio. Asia’s affluent customer wants to know why the firm’s RM or investment sales team recommends a product or service. High tax rates, political uncertainty, regulatory restriction, and a small talent pool prompt wealth management clients to transact business in investor-friendly Hong Kong and Singapore.
Asia Market Wealth Management Trends
According to Oracle research, five key trends affect the Asia marketplace, including:
- Entrepreneurial ‘need-to-know’ investment clients: Unlike traditional wealth management clients, the typical client asks questions and requires one-on-one interaction with the RM;
- Lengthy KYC processes: Regulatory environments in the world’s financial markets KYC compliance currently focus on customer protection and preservation of capital. RMs must ask questions, collect information about the prospective client’s assets and risk profile;
- Small RM talent universe: Competitor firms compete for the services of trained RMs. The small talent pool causes clients to follow RMs and draws capital and revenues from the firm;
- High back office and operations costs: Many firms invest heavily in the frontline or ‘front office,’ leaving a woefully ‘low-tech’ and man hour-intensive back office. Proper settlement of transactions and up-to-date portfolio valuations is ideally supported by technology investment;
- Client demand for financial brands: The global financial crisis (GFC) left many of Asia’s affluent clients wary of international banks and advisers.
Automating the Client Onboarding Process
By automating the onboarding of new clients, firms seek to offset and allay higher front office costs. An automated process requires that clients are asked a certain number of important questions about assets, income and risk. Creating the customer risk profile allows firm personnel to follow prescribed check lists and rules. Since all customers are asked the same questions every time a new account is opened, the firm minimises compliance risk while reducing costs to capture the information. “Straight through processing,” a familiar retail banking process, makes cost-effective sense.
Documentation and Reports
Data management/extraction and analytics tools for customer reports and documents support RMs’ ability to present and persuade clients to make decisions. Current real-time portfolio data is essential to performance discussions or making buy and sell recommendations. Standardised reports and graphs enable the RM to spend more time generating revenues. Sophisticated analytics, e.g. portfolio stress tests or scenario analysis, support RMs’ presentations to demanding and detail-oriented clients.
According to McKinsey & Co.’s Private Banking Survey performance expectations of the RM may vary widely. Research concludes that almost all RMs devote too much time to administrative work. Reducing RMs’ need to perform these tasks could improve RM revenue production by 15 to 20 percent.
When processes exist, many RMs fail to adhere to SOPs. Many firms do not provide performance training or coaching: for that reason, RMs receive little coaching or encouragement to develop valuable skills. In addition, McKinsey recommends that by standardizing operations and shortening lead times, firms could gain 15 to 30 percent in improved efficiency. Coaching RMs in the sales and client acquisition process could increase the RM’s new client assets by 5 to 15 percent.
McKinsey’s research encourages firms to consider the potential of extended low margins. Training new RMs and coaching client development skills while investing in middle and back-office technology drives down costs.
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