Speaker Interview: Kevin Russel

60 Second interview with:

Kevin Russel, Head of Proposition, SEI Investments

What key pain points within investment management firms can most easily be solved by digital technology?

Digital solutions can help investment management firms reduce both the cost and risk of serving clients through the effective connection of systems and services to deliver straight through processing. Digital solutions also allow clients to access mobile or digital services that provide information, enable top-ups and simple self-servicing tasks which reduce the cost to serve and enhance the client value proposition.

What are the key regulatory, economic or cultural hurdles to investment managers adopting digital technology?

Doing things in a different way always brings challenges and firms need to be open to new ideas about how to manage and control risk as well as different ways of supporting advisers and consumers. People form habits and existing habits are not easily changed - so it is often the organisational and cultural aspects of change that impede progress with digital and technology projects, not the development and implementation of the technology solution itself. To address this, organisations need to be committed to, and prepare well for, change; and they need to be open to new ways of working to take advantage of the opportunities new technology can bring.

What types of products and services do investment managers most need from providers of digital technology? 

Technology is an enabler for an investment manager to spend time focusing on delivering the best service possible to clients. Designing and developing solutions that help firms spend more time with clients and less on admin and processing tasks frees up valuable time which can be used to focus on developing and growing the business. To achieve this many organisations now recognise they need to partner with experts who understand their business and can deliver access to products and services in a way that supports their client value proposition and operating model.

It is also important to consider the required future investment to maintain, develop and support complex services and solutions, particularly where the core skill set required for this is not the firm's core focus or strength. Effective integration of the various systems and processes used by managers to deliver a seamless experience and access to data is critical to the success of digital and multi-channel products and services.

Is it a given that investment managers will increasingly adopt digital technology, or is there still substantial resistance from the industry?

Our research shows that a convergence of technological, economic, demographic and consumer trends will turn the wealth profession on its head by 2021, reshaping customer expectations, disrupting business models, and altering advisor roles. These new realities will require investment providers to drive wide-ranging digital transformation or face extinction at the hands of competitors both old and new.

Many firms are not as prepared to meet rising investor expectations as their clients may think. For example, 63% of investors expect providers to ensure cybersecurity, while only 48% of investment providers say that they are well-prepared to do so (source : Roubini Thoughtlab 2016). The ability to provide holistic goal-planning advice, customised investment solutions, and access to wider investment opportunities are particular trouble spots for wealth and asset management firms.

Why will you be joining the Digital Transformation in Wealth & Asset Management Summit, and what do you hope to get out of the event?

I am interested in the themes and trends that will impact our industry moving forward. I look forward to sharing our research and thinking on digital and technology changes and how they will help address challenges and create opportunities for investment firms. I also look forward to hearing views and insights from others; and I hope to catch up with a few old friends and meet a few new ones!