Articles related to research conducted by Empirica in the area of FinTech and software development.

Reasons for asset managers to implement robo advisor software

The disruptive changes introduced by FinTech companies bring threats but also show where the opportunities can be found. With the advent of automated wealth management solutions, the traditional wealth management industry is facing perhaps its most disruptive threat since low-cost online stock trading in the mid 1990s.

Most wealth management companies now have a prime opportunity to apply robo-advisory technology to respond on time to the growing expectations of existing and future investors (the Millennials) and to stay more cost-efficient and profitable even in lower fees environment.

Main reasons to implement robo-advisory platform:

  • To broaden the market for clients whose assets are below the minimum requirement now by traditional advising. Robo-advisors can offer the investors regular access to financial tools that have been reserved for high net worth investors. Automated advisory platforms allow the advisory firms to scale up operations and serve more clients of every size and type.
  • To stay profitable in the lower fees environment. Automated advisory platforms allow advisory firms to remain profitable and be significantly more cost-efficient in their advice delivery and execution even if fees decline. Low fees are an undeniable advantage in the eye of the customer. Many investors are ready to opt out of human advisors in exchange for lower costs and access to advanced services offered only for wealthier customers so far.
  • To work with Millennial Investors – a largely untapped source of assets. Digital advice attracts millennial generations of customers in a natural way. Millennials have two major characteristics: they are both accustomed to the online life, and usually do not have sufficient knowledge about investing. According to Accenture, almost 40% of Millennials are interested in robo-advice and their predisposition is to “do-it-yourself-through-an-app”.
  • To address growing expectations on the level of the service. Providing the investors with real time information on their assets in an engaging way saves time and is more convenient to them.
  • To attract investors by providing user portfolios aligned with their life goals instead of products of the advisor. Robo-advisory platforms give the visualization of balance projection and show the investor dependencies between the answers from the on-boarding questionnaire, risk profile, proposed investment strategy and long term financial goals.
  • To benefit as a manager from behavioural analysis of customer activities in the system to help them get a better deal with emotional aspects of investing.
  • To aim for transparency, especially when presenting the robo-advisor’s pricing, product and process information.

See our Robo Advisor Software:

See our Robo Advisor Software

TOP trends and challenges in wealth management

Robo-Advice is not about tomorrow anymore. It’s about today.

A robo-advisor is an online wealth management service that provides automated, algorithm-based portfolio management advice without the use of human financial planners. Robo-advisors are typically low-cost, have low account minimums, and attract younger investors who are more comfortable doing things online. The idea made sense to many, and robo-advisors quickly gained market traction. Full-service, high-value-added, person-to-person activity isn’t for everybody. There are generations of tomorrow’s investors coming through today, who are more attracted to something less person-to-person and more technologically enabled.

The rapid rise of Robo-Advisors

Robo-Advice is changing the landscape of global wealth management. Historically, investment management was the purview of the wealthy. With robo-advisors flooding the investment markets, offering low-fee, diversified professional management, the investing landscape is evolving.

The number of robo-advisors is growing rapidly. New consumer brands are emerging in the digital wealth management industry such as Betterment, Wealthfront and Personal Capital.

In its report, BI Intelligence forecasts that robo-advisors will manage around $8 trillion of total global assets under management (AUM) by 2020.

forecast-global-aum

         TOP trends and challenges in wealth management for the next years

  1. Robo-advisors disrupt the wealth management industry. In the near future, advisors that will wait for the transition to robo-advisor will lose out. Investors will migrate towards those lower-fee providers with technology platforms.
  2. We observe the strong influence of technology within the entire investing environment. Many investors trust technology and expect 24/7 access and reporting.
  3. The competition increases rapidly. New consumer brands of pure robo-advisors appear in the digital wealth management industry, while traditional financial advisors ‘go robo’ as well.
  4. New regulations are directly impacting the financial advisory industry and driving companies to offer robo services as a way to meet the requirements.
  5. Investors increase pressure to lower fees. Robo-Advisors serve a wider range of customers and allow to stay profitable in lower fees environment.
  6. Artificial Intelligence enters the robo-advisory industry and could be the strongest competitive advantage. Robo-Advisors soon will offer more diversified investment products.

See our Robo Advisor Software:

See our Robo Advisor Software

How traditional asset managers GO ROBO. Omni-channel advice and hybrid-robos.

As the robo-advice industry grows it is attracting the attention of traditional asset management firms. These companies want to offer what their clients need — easy money management — while at the exact same time attract more funds to manage. Today they may be losing assets to the startup robo-advisor firms. Last year, Fidelity Investments, Charles Schwab Corp. and The Vanguard Group have either created their own digital services unit or partnered with an existing robo business. We are sure the other large firms will join the trend.

After the great success of robo advisors launched by Ameritrade, Vanguard or Charles Schwab the main question for traditional financial advisors is not ‘if to invest’ in new robo-technology but ‘how to bridge the gap’.

robo-advisors-chart

Traditional financial advisors decide on a hybrid model

Following in the footsteps of the stand-alone digital robo-advisor is a hybrid model, combining both automated and traditional human services. The model offers a live company-employed financial advisor in combination with online automated services in areas such as asset allocation and rebalancing.

Hybrid Robos = Combining Human and Automated Wealth Advice

The report by My Private Banking Research projects a robust future for the hybrid model of the robo-advisor. The research implies that the hybrid models will grow to $3.7 trillion assets world-wide by 2020 and $16.3 trillion by 2025, 10% of all investable worldwide assets.

robo_advisor_digitalization2

The main expectation for robo-advisors is to utilize more human-like interfaces and features, and for human advisors to adopt more robo-advisor-like features.

See our Robo-Advisor Software:

See our Robo Advisor Software

How technology influences asset and wealth management

Future growth in assets under management (AUM) seems to be closely linked to digital strategy, as new generations of investors adopt different ways of investing. This calls for a rethink of which strategies can best capture the next generation of customers and compete against players who offer new investment platforms based on advanced robo-technology. Digital distribution is therefore expected to disrupt the traditional distribution landscape.
technology-influences

What does it mean for advisors today?

The next few years will be challenging for CEOs of wealth management companies. The top challenges include starting the digital transformation journey, which has an influence on:

  • The Grow of AUM
  • Cost Management
  • Regulatory Changes Navigating
  • Adapting to disruptive innovations in the business environment
  • Enhancement of customer satisfaction and engagement

Automated advisory platform allows firms and advisors to be significantly more cost-efficient in their advice delivery and execution, helping maintain profits even if the fee income declines. These platforms also allow to scale up operations and serve more clients of every size and type.

Technology aids transparency and trust. When all operations are running through the automated advisory platform, it is easy to report to the client exactly what is happening, and why. Similarly, periodic reporting—quarterly, yearly or as often as the client wants—can be easily automated as well. The best automated platforms will record each interaction, as well as any client feedback, both for regulatory purposes and to enhance future interactions.
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See our Robo Advisor Software:

See our Robo Advisor Software

FinTech. Lessons learned from over 5 years of financial technology software projects.

By Michal Rozanski, CEO at Empirica.

 

Reading news about fintech we regularly see the big money inflow to new companies with a lot of potentially breakthrough ideas. But aside from the hype from the business side, there are sophisticated technical projects going on underneath. And for new fintech ideas to be successful, these projects have to end with the delivery of great software systems that scale and last. Because we have been building these kind of systems for the fintech area for over 5 years we want to share a bit of our experience.

 

fintech empirica

 

“Software is eating the world”. I believe these words by Marc Andreessen. And now the time has come for finance, as technology is transforming every corner of the financial sector. Algorithmic trading, which is our speciality, is a great example. Other examples include lending, payments, personal finance, crowdfunding, consumer banking and retail investments. Every part of the finance industry is experiencing rapid changes triggered by companies that propose new services with heavy use of software.
The best evidence that something is happening somewhere is to see where the money goes. Investments in fintech companies globally grew to $12 billion last year, which is a three times increase comparing to 2013, and five times during the last five years, according to the research reports by CBInsights.

If fintech relies on software, and there is so much money flowing into fintech projects, what should be looked for when making a fintech software project? Our outsourcing software projects for the fintech industry as well as building our own algorithmic trading platform has taught us a lot. Now we want to share our lessons learned from these projects.

 

1. The process – be agile.

Agile methodology is the essence of how software projects should be made. Short iterations. Frequent deliveries. Fast and constant feedback from users. Having a working product from early iterations, gives you the best understanding of where you are now, and where you should go.
It doesn’t matter if you outsource the team or build everything in-house; if your team is local or remote. Agile methodologies like Scrum or Kanban will help you build better software, lower the overall risk of the project and will help you show the business value sooner.

 

2. The team – hire the best.

A few words about productivity in software industry. The citation is from my favourite article by Robert Smallshire ‘Predictive Models of Development Teams and the Systems They Build’ : ‘… we know that on a small 10 000 line code base, the least productive developer will produce about 2000 lines of debugged and working code in a year, the most productive developer will produce about 29 000 lines of code in a year, and the typical (or average) developer will produce about 3200 lines of code in a year. Notice that the distribution is highly skewed toward the low productivity end, and the multiple between the typical and most productive developers corresponds to the fabled 10x programmer.’.
I don’t care what people say about lines of code as a metric of productivity. That’s only used here for illustration.
The skills of the people may not be that important when you are building relatively simple portals with some basic backend functionality. Or mobile apps. But if your business relies on sophisticated software for financial transactions processing, then the technical skills of those who build it make all the difference.

And this is the answer to the unasked question why we in Empirica are hiring only best developers.

We the tech founders tend to forget how important it is to have not only best developers but also the best specialists in the area which we want to market our product. If you are building an algo trading platform, you need quants. If you are building banking omnichannel system, you need bankers. Besides, especially in B2B world, you need someone who will speak to your customers in their language. Otherwise, your sales will suck.
And finally, unless you hire a subcontractor experienced in your industry, your developers will not understand the nuances of your area of finance.

 

3. The product – outsource or build in-house?

If you are seriously considering building a new team in-house, please read the points about performance and quality, and ask yourself the question – ‘Can I hire people who are able to build systems on required performance and stability levels?’. And these auxiliary questions – can you hire developers who really understand multithreading? Are you able to really check their abilities, hire them, and keep them with you? If yes, then you have a chance. If not, better go outsource.
And when deciding on outsourcing – do not outsource just to any IT company hoping they will take care. Find a company that makes systems similar to what you intend to build. Similar not only from a technical side but also from a business side.
Can outsourcing be made remotely without an unnecessary threat to the project? It depends on a few variables, but yes. Firstly, the skills mentioned above are crucial; not the place where people sleep. Secondly, there are many tools to help you make remote work as smooth as local work. Slack, trello, github, daily standups on Skype. Use it. Thirdly, find a team with proven experience in remote agile projects. And finally – the product owner will be the most important position for you to cover internally.

And one remark about a hidden cost of in-house development, inseparably related to the IT industry – staff turnover costs. Depending on the source of research, turnover rates for software developers are estimated at 25% to even 38%. That means that when constructing your in-house team, every fourth or even every third developer will not be with you in a year from now. Finding a good developer – takes months. Teaching a new developer and getting up to speed – another few months. When deciding on outsourcing, you are also outsourcing the cost and stress of staff turnover.

 

4. System’s performance.

For many fintech areas system’s performance is crucial. Not for all, but when it is important, it is really important. If you are building a lending portal, performance isn’t as crucial. Your customers are happy if they get a loan in a few days or weeks, so it doesn’t matter if their application is processed in 2 seconds or in 2 minutes. If you are building an algo trading operations or payments processing service, you measure time in milliseconds at best, but maybe even in nanoseconds. And then systems performance becomes a key input to the product map.
95% of developers don’t know how to program with performance in mind, because 95% of software projects don’t require these skills. Skills of thinking where bytes of memory go, when they will be cleaned up, which structure is more efficient for this kind of operation on this type of object. Or the nightmare of IT students – multithreading. I can count on my hands as to how many people I know who truly understand this topic.

 

5. Stability, quality and level of service.

Finance is all about the trust. And software in fintech usually processes financial transactions in someway.
Technology may change. Access channels may change. You may not have the word ‘bank’ in your company name, but you must have its level of service. No one in the world would allow someone to play with their money. Allowing the risk of technical failure may put you out of business. You don’t want to spare on technology. In the fintech sector there is no room for error.

You don’t achieve quality by putting 3 testers behind each developer. You achieve quality with processes of product development. And that’s what the next point is about.

 

6. The Dev Ops

The core idea behind DevOps is that the team is responsible for all the processes behind the development and continuous integration of the product. And it’s clear that agile processes and good development practices need frequent integrations. Non-functional requirements (stability and performance) need a lot of testing. All of this is an extra burden, requiring frequent builds and a lot of deployments on development and test machines. On top of that there are many functional requirements that need to be fulfilled and once built, kept tested and running.

On many larger projects the team is split into developers, testers, release managers and system administrators working in separate rooms. From a process perspective this is an unnecessary overhead. The good news is that this is more the bank’s way of doing business, rarely the fintech way. This separation of roles creates an artificial border when functionalities are complete from the developers’ point of view and when they are really done – tested, integrated, released, stable, ready for production. By putting all responsibilities in the hands of the project team you can achieve similar reliability and availability, with a faster time to the market. The team also communicates better and can focus its energy on the core business, rather than administration and firefighting.

There is a lot of savings in time and cost in automation. And there are a lot of things that can be automated. Our DevOps processes have matured with our product, and now they are our most precious assets.

 

7. The technology.

The range of technologies applied for fintech software projects can be as wide as for any other industry. What technology makes best fit for the project depends, well, on the project. Some projects are really simple such as mobile or web application without complicated backend logic behind the system. So here technology will not be a challenge. Generally speaking, fintech projects can be some of the most challenging projects in the world. Here technologies applied can be the difference between success and failure. Need to process 10K transaction per second with a mean latency under 1/10th ms. You will need a proven technology, probably need to resign from standard application servers, and write a lot of stuff from scratch, to control the latency on every level of critical path.

Mobile, web, desktop? This is more of a business decision than technical. Some say the desktop is dead. Not in trading. If you sit whole day in front of the computer and you need to refer to more than one monitor, forget the mobile or web. As for your iPhone? This can be used as an additional channel, when you go to a lunch, to briefly check if the situation is under control.

 

8. The Culture.

After all these points up till now, you have a talented team, working as a well-oiled mechanism with agile processes, who know what to do and how to do it. Now you need to keep the spirits high through the next months or years of the project.
And it takes more than a cool office, table tennis, play station or Friday parties to build the right culture. Culture is about shared values. Culture is about a common story. With our fintech products or services we are often going against big institutions. We are often trying to disrupt the way their business used to work. We are small and want to change the world, going to war with the big and the powerful. Doesn’t it look to you like another variation of David and Goliath story? Don’t smile, this is one of the most effective stories. It unifies people and makes them go in the same direction with the strong feeling of purpose, a mission. This is something many startups in other non fintech branches can’t offer. If you are building the 10th online grocery store in your city, what can you tell your people about the mission?

 

Final words

Fintech software projects are usually technologically challenging. But that is just a risk that needs to be properly addressed with the right people and processes or with the right outsourcing partner. You shouldn’t outsource the responsibility of taking care of your customers or finding the right market fit for your product. But technology is something you can usually outsource and even expect significant added value after finding the right technology partner.
At Empirica we have taken part in many challenging fintech projects, so learn our lessons, learn from others, learn your own and share it. This cycle of learning, doing and sharing will help the fintech community build great systems that change the rules of the game in the financial world!

 

 

Trends in Asset Management

Trends in Asset Management

Asset managers face an existential crisis as they confront the ending of a six-year rise in asset prices. What does the future hold for the sector? Christopher O’Dea inquires

The main trends affecting the asset management industry now contain existential challenges to core investment theory and the business model. Rising asset prices since the monetary crisis have helped asset managers to maintain gross profits despite the shift to low-cost investment strategies and product alternatives. But that tailwind has subsided, leaving asset management firms in the doldrums as storm clouds gather – increasing customer demand for lower fees, new regulation, and closer examination of the social worth of the investment management business itself.

At a glance

• Asset management firms face more dangers with their company.

• Downward pressure on fees has become persistent.

• Americans are asking why there are numerous pension funding shortfalls at defined benefit plans and such modest balances among defined contribution plans.

• Digital capabilities are getting to be more common but the human touch will remain essential.

In a nutshell, threats are rising – not merely threats to the worth of securities in portfolios of investment management companies, but risks to the companies themselves. Now, asset managers are grappling with those threats, which promise to bring technology that is new, reduced employment, lower earnings, and a heightened focus on producing sustainable returns instead of the historic chase for above-market performance.

“The six-year tailwind to asset managers from asset inflation seems to be over,” according to some report on European asset managers by Goldman Sachs International released in April. “ asset inflation, rather than flows drove More than 70% of this,” Goldman says. “This tailwind is at an end, replaced by a more explosive, less directional market backdrop.” In reality, the global investment management business is entering a period of consolidation and reorganisation, setting the stage for what Tim Hodgson, head of the Willis Towers WatsonThinking Ahead Institute calls “necessary re-invention”.

Business model under duress

The starting point for a re-invention is that downward fee pressure a regular feature of the business – is becoming constant. Which will lead to a revenue pool that is shrinking, as customers act on the belief, however well grounded, that active supervisors supply no net value. Hints of that can be seen, as recent growth in business revenue and profits has resulted chiefly from asset-price inflation as opposed to net new AUM. That situation highlights the crux of the issue – the industry is set up to benefit asset managers and related intermediaries, not asset owners and pension plan members.

“we’re interested in the behavior of the investment system,” says Hodgson. “ there are issues out there that are bigger in relation to the asset managers, and Asset managers are part of the system.” Over recent years, the Thinking Ahead team has developed the view that the best means to discern what is for asset managers is to follow the money”. Following that trail leads to the conclusion the investment management sector has a fundamental issue – it is create mainly to help industry providers. In a 2014 survey, Thinking Ahead found that only 42% of industry participants agreed that the industry is primarily designed to help the members rather compared to the agents working within it. In a report on the study, Hodgson wrote: “For a properly configured, customer-focused business, 90% of participants would not be unable to agree with such a statement.”

The result is that too much of the $100trn (€87trn) in capital invested internationally in bonds and fixed income securities is regularly transferred to asset managers and intermediaries in the form of fees predicated on the value of those assets. Asset management pays high wages to stockholders to high margins and employees, Hodgson says to other sectors like food retailing that pay low margins and low wages. The asset management industry is extracting “ rents that are excessive ”, he says.

But asset managers expend tremendous effort transferring securities among themselves in an attempt to have the highest-priced securities in the funds they handle. The exercise doesn’t increase the aggregate value of the international portfolio – for trying to conquer their peers but substantial fees charge.

The value thus transferred from portfolios to asset manager accounts is not insignificant. And BCG says net revenue growth slowed from 9% in 2013 to 7% in 2014 owing to fee pressure and the shift from traditional actively managed products to passive strategies, alternatives such as for example liability-driven investment and target-date funds, and speciality strategies.

Engine needs repair

Managers have responded with several alternative approaches to asset allocation and portfolio construction, including factor investing, smart beta investing and hazard parity. Each has its edges, and put together they’ve helped the asset management sector move to a world of lower-cost investing that targets delivering outcomes that are specific as opposed to attempting to assemble a bundle of securities that create a yield rather better than the usual market index.

Non-traditional strategies are anticipated to pull most new assets in the years ahead. Equity research businesses that are several view BlackRock as the greatest example of where investment management is heading. “BlackRock stays the greatest increase narrative in asset management, with numerous tailwinds supporting its superior P/E ratio and organic fee growth according to a Goldman Sachs report on the company before in 2013, in our view.

From supervision to transformation

While asset managers revamp themselves, regulators are shifting their own assignment from supervision to transforming the US investment industry in the exterior in.

That index is predicted by an analysis of the final rules by Morningstar and exchanged -traded product providers will get an additional increase; the effect on asset managers that are active will be combined; and some alternate asset managers will face new challenges. The final rules dropped an earlier list of permitted assets excluding some alternatives. But advisors will still be required to justify using choices, which usually charge fees that are relatively high, and Morningstar anticipates advisors will be “leery of using high-fee products, when under a fiduciary duty” even if they permitted.

That is another question mark by hedge funds on choices at a time of poor performance. “Any institutional investor allocating to hedge funds is examining the recent performance period attentively, ” says Lightyear’s Marrron. They may be looking to answer one question: “Whether the hedge fund model, when it comes to the fees which might be billed, is consistent with the functionality that is available.”

Under pressure: five dilemmas faced by asset managers

Business model under duress – changing the beneficiary designation

• Fee pressure is relentless and shrinking the earnings pool, likely for good.

Supervisors that are • supply no net worth and growth comes from asset-price inflation not new AUM.

• The crux of the issue is that the investment industry structure is create to help asset owners and intermediaries, not beneficiaries and asset managers.

Relationship matters – winning and retaining clients

• Customer experience/understanding the individual touch is vital. Presentation and persuasion skills are more crucial than ever and the role of consultants increase.

• But for institutional managers in the new universe – it’s about execution for productivity increases, marketing effectiveness and jobs that are moving to lower-cost locations.

The regulator’s efforts to reshape the US individual retirement investing marketplace pat into societal questions about the worth of investment managers. The conventional wisdom in the US to ask why, if the business is so successful, there are a lot of pension funding shortfalls at defined benefit (DB) plans, and such little balances in the defined contribution (DC) accounts of the majority of Americans. On increasing the collective yield accessible to investors that own securities in a sustainable way but the assignment of investment management is being refocused.

Hodgson suggests replacing fees with a flat fee arrangement in which investors purchase a slice of a supervisor’s capacity as a proportion of asset values. Managers might find this arrangement appealing in light of long-term strength flows. Assets in DB plans are flowing out of the sector as strategies go into net distribution status, and the contribution rates of new DC plans are not too high to create offsetting asset inflows, he explains.

And the prospect of flat equity returns and falling bond prices means supervisors will not manage to rely on asset price inflation to boost revenue and profits. BCG reports that in 2014, institutionally – assets increased by just 8% and revenues by only 3% – while their gains shrank 1%.

Technology –
Nowadays industries look to technology as a way to reduce costs. In asset management, technology has made considerable cost savings through operational improvements and outsourcing back office functions. Now technology has been used in two new areas – client relationships and the investment procedure.

Worldwide asset servicer State Street plans to reflect new light on the digital files associated with the group’s $27trn of customer assets. The goal will be to use data analytics to glean new, real time insights from the transaction data and other information in its computer systems. State Street’s previous technology initiative reduced costs by $625m through a personal cloud and automation of procedures that resulted in 4,000 job cuts.

Analysts view the new programme with cautious optimism. State Street faces pressure on its net interest margin, and although the sales opportunity is vague”, Goldman says “we see value in this kind of innovation for State Street’s customers”.

Relationship matters

Whatever their product focus, asset managers now face a future in which attaining growth will require companies to differentiate themselves by showing value through pricing, sales activity and marketing campaigns. Oftentimes, says BCG, “winning supervisors will gain edge by developing and deploying sophisticated capabilities in data driven decision-making”.

While digital capabilities are getting to be essential to compete in 21st-century asset management, for institutionally-driven supervisors the individual touch will remain – and maybe take on more significance.

New research from Greenwich Associates demonstrates that topnotch persuasion and presentation skills will be more critical than ever for investment managers seeking to build relationships with advisers, who are tightening their management of institutional assets.

Formal meetings with investment advisers are frequently make or break occasions Greenwich says, for asset managers, as 86% and 92% of institutional investor relationships are intermediated by advisers in UK and the US .

European asset managers may have a story to tell that would make any investment team welcome in a consultancy conference room.

A Goldman analysis of Lipper fund data indicates that 65% of European equity funds benchmarked against the Stoxx 600 outperformed in 2015, and through early April fund managers quantified against the Stoxx 50 index revealed a talent for creating alpha software, with 76% posting above-standard performance.

Performance like that just might reinvigorate active management – and put back the wind in asset managers’ sails in the procedure.

Trends in Wealth Management

To gain a distinctive view into the experiences of both customers and advisors as the wealth management industry faces change, Forbes Insights, in partnership with Temenos, surveyed more than 60 wealth managers all over the world and 35 High- Net Worth (HNW) clients about the evolving banking encounter —how they convey, their needs and the need for technology
One of the key findings:
• 42% of wealth managers believe that the mixture of offline and digital means of communication is perfect.
• 34% of HNW clients need either digital-only or a combination of offline and digital communication
• 62% of HNW customers say the digitization of wealth management services is good overall, but they nevertheless desire to meet regularly with the advisor.
• 17% of HNW customers say technology is not dispensable.
• 48% of HNW clients rate cyber threat and hacking as a top concern associated with the use of technology
• 45% of wealth managers believe comprehensive analysis of performance and financial results is the finest way to establish trust with clients.
The survey also affirms it is mainly a myth that young investors that are wealthy are entirely self sufficient and they convey mainly through virtual channels, with little or no interest in face-to-face relationships with advisors. True, they want to make their own decisions, and they are definitely at home in the digital world ; but they also need to work to validate their viewpoints, on the go, across any channel that is available and to get second alternatives.
Some other notable observations:
Investors over age 50 tend to be focused on the security of data when it comes to wealth management.
Understanding preferences and the feelings of clients on a deeply personal level is at the core of retention, the underpinning business object for the sector.
A substantial number (42%) of wealth managers surveyed consider that legacy systems are “somewhat of a difficulty. ”
Altering expectations of a younger generation of investors to wealth management will create opportunities. For example, it’s typical of Millennials, and also of some Xers and Boomers, to downplay expert guidance and believe in the ‘wisdom of their tribe.’ They also desire to engage in new ways: always and everywhere and through new combinations of digital and human -established channels. This has deep implications for every wealth management company. Additionally, the Xers and Millennials who command only about one-fifth of the states ’ retail assets today will command about half of them within the next 15 years. So the riches advisors who do business on their terms and can connect to young investors will have a leg up on future growth.
Innovation in wealth management will also come in the form of guidance that is holistic: consumers will search for advice beyond traditional portfolio allocation and performance standards into how you can achieve various life goals like healthcare, relocation, education, and leisure. This will necessitate access to broader bodies of knowledge and more comprehensive frameworks to incorporate advice across disparate targets.
We believe the Wealth Management sector is poised for significant innovation with regards to the use of analytics to support company objectives and better engage with consumers. In this respect, the sector is somewhat lagging behind other sectors (Retail, P&C) but will be catching up fast given considerable levels of investment being made in big data and sophisticated analytics capabilities.
Lastly, we see quite a few of startups dedicated to the democratizing of access to esoteric advantages categories (e.g., loans or choices) and institutional strategies or research tools. While some regulatory issues must be overcome (e.g., the definition of accredited investors), we expect to see continued innovation in this place.
Conclusions:
The changing expectations of the younger investor will create growth opportunities.
What are some measures businesses can take to address these challenges?
This really is not meant as an exhaustive list but rather a listing of especially significant – yet challenging – steps wealth management firms can require.
Embrace change: The status quo is not possible anymore: too many sources of disruption (in the the rise of robo guidance to a fresh generation of investors, new competitions, new regulations, etc.) are coming together to profoundly reshape the wealth management business going forward on (see our related report).
Build a culture of innovation: Most wealth management firms that are established are not very good at this. It is also about driving adoption through substantial bodies of counselors and product staff and providing empowering technologies. It is increasingly about prototyping and testing quickly.
Construct new capabilities that’ll drive differentiation in the market place: Examples include digital client engagement; digital, slick onboarding process integrated with KYC; big data management and advanced analytics; and segmentation of advisers and clients. For many companies, this really is likely to require purchases or partnerships to construct capacities that are required quicker. Wealth management firms don’t have a very strong track record here.
Match them with front-line and fix to the evolving demographics of investors staff: This is crucial that you help businesses stay in tune with their customers’ tastes.
Anticipate and prepare the upcoming retirement tide by boomers: Boomers must consider their longevity demands and risks many years before retirement age. Their advisors have to find new methods to participate with them on this issue on. Gamification may be part of the solution in wealth management area.
Eventually, for large diversified banks or asset managers with several coexisting advisory models under exactly the same corporate umbrella (for instance a digital robo offering, a traditional full service brokerage, and retail banking wealth management model), transition from a referral and migration paradigm to a collaboration one. This will be truly challenging to many firms and will demand potentially new pricing and relationship management models. But wealthy customers are requiring access to several advisory models at once.
THE STATE OF GLOBAL WEALTH MANAGEMENT — COMPONENT 1: right FOR TECHNOLOGY DISRUPTION
“If (wealth management advisors ) continue to work just how you have been, you may not maintain business in five years” – Business leader Joe Duran, 2015 TD Ameritrade Wealth Adviser Conference.
The wealth management segment is a possible high growth business for any financial institution. It’s the greatest customer touch section of banking and is fostered on long term and extremely successful advisory relationships. It’s also the ripest section for disruption due to a clear shift in expectations and client tastes for their financial future. This three-part series investigates the industry trends, business use cases mapped to technology and design and disruptive themes and strategies.
As it broadly refers to an aggregation of financial services there is no one universally accepted definition of wealth management. Included in these are financial advisory, personal investment management and planning disciplines directly for the advantage of high- net-worth (HNW) clients. But wealth management has also become a highly popular branding term that advisors of many different kinds increasingly embrace. So this term now refers to a broad range of business models and potential functions.
Trends associated with shifting customer demographics, evolving expectations from HNW customers regarding their needs (including driving societal impact), technology and tumultuous rivalry are converging. Paradigms and new challenges are afoot in the wealth management space, but on the other side of the coin, so is a lot of opportunity.
A wealth manager is a specialized financial advisor who advises on how exactly to prepare for present and future financial needs and helps a client construct an entire investment portfolio. The investment part of wealth management normally entails the selection of individual investments and also both asset allocation of a portfolio that is whole. The planning function of wealth management often incorporates estate planning for people as well as family estates as well as tax planning around the investment portfolio.
There is absolutely no trade certification for a wealth manager. Several titles are commonly used such as advisors, family office representatives, private bankers, etc. Many of these professionals are certified CFPs, CPAs and MBAs too. Authorized professionals are also sometimes seen augmenting their legal expertise with these certifications.
State of Global Wealth Management
Private banking services are delivered to high net worth individuals (HNWI). These are the wealthiest clients that demand the highest levels of service and more customized product offerings than are provided to frequent customers. Usually, wealth management is a subsidiary company of a larger investment or retail banking conglomerate. Private banking also includes other services like tax and estate planning planning as we shall see in several paragraphs
The World Wealth Report for 2015 was published jointly by Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and CapGemini. Notable highlights from the report include:
1. Nearly 1 million people in the world achieved millionaire standing in 2014
2. The collective investible assets of the world’s HNWI totaled $56 trillion
3. By 2017, the entire assets under management for worldwide HNWIs will climb beyond $70 trillion
4. Asia Pacific has the world’s highest number of millionaires with China and India posting the greatest rates of growth respectively
5. North America was a close second at 8.3%. Both regions surpassed for high net worth wealth
6. Equities were the favored investment vehicle for global HNWI with cash deposits, real estate and other alternative investments forming the remainder
7. The HNWI population is also tremendously credit favorable
This slower pace of increase now means that companies should move to a more relationship centric model, particularly among highly enviable segment : younger investors. The report stresses that now wealth managers are not able to serve different needs of HNW clients from both a mindset, business offering and technology ability perspective under the age of 45.
THE COMPONENTS OF WEALTH MANAGEMENT BUSINESS
As depicted above, services are broadly provided by full-service wealth management companies in the following areas :
Investment Advisory
A wealth manager is a private financial advisor who helps a customer assemble an investment portfolio that helps prepare depending on time horizons and their respective danger desires.
Retirement Planning
Retirement planning is an obvious function of a customer ’s private financial journey. From a HNWI perspective, there is certainly a need to supply retirement services that are complicated while balancing taxes, income needs, estate prevention and so on.
Estate Planning
A key function of wealth management is always to help customers pass on their assets via inheritance. Wealth managers help construct wills that leverage trusts and kinds of insurance to help ease inheritance that is smooth.
Tax Preparation
The skill to reach the right mix of investments from a tax perspective is a capability that is key.
Full Service Investment Banking
For refined institutional customers, the ability to offer a raft of investment banking services is an incredibly appealing capability.
Insurance Management
A wealth manager needs to be well versed in the sorts of insurance bought by their HNWI customers so that the hedging services that are appropriate can be put in place.
Institutional Investments
Some wealth managers cater to institutional investors like pension funds and hedge funds and offer a number of back office functions.
It really is to be noted that the wealth manager is not always a professional in all these places but rather operates nicely with the various places of an investment firm from a preparation, tax and legal perspective to ensure that their clients can accomplish the results that are greatest.
Customer Preferences and Trends
There are not unclear changing preferences on behalf of the HNWI, including:
1. The wealth management community is mostly missing the younger customer ’s needs, while powerful satisfaction scores were given by elderly customers to their existing wealth supervisors.
2. Regulatory and price pressures are growing leading to commodification of services
3. Innovative automation and usage techniques of data assets among new entrants (aka the FinTechs) are leading to the rise of “roboadvisor” services which have already begun disrupting existing players in a massive manner in certain HNWI segments.
4. A need to offer holistic financial services tailored to the behavioral needs of the HNWI investors.
Technology Trends
There has been an understanding that other regions have been trailed by wealth management as a sub sector from a technology and digitization perspective. As with banking organizations that are wider, the wealth management company has been under considerable pressure from the perspective of technology and the astounding pace of innovation seen over the last few years from Big Data, a cloud and open source standpoint. Here are a couple trends to keep an eye on:
1. The dependence on the Digitized Wealth Office
The younger HNWI customers (defined as under 45) use cellular technology as an easy method of socializing with their counselors. A large proportion of applications are still individually managed with distinct user experiences which range from customer onboarding to trade management to servicing. There is a crying demand for IT infrastructure modernization ranging to Big Data to micro across the sector from cloud computing -services to agile customs boosting techniques such as for instance a DevOps approach.
2. The requirement for Open and Smart Data Architecture
Functions that were siloed have led to siloed data architectures working on custom built legacy applications. All of which positively impacts the client experience and inhibit the programs from using data in a fashion that always. There exists certainly a demand to do more with existing data assets and to have an integrated digital experience both internationally and regionally. Current players possess a huge first mover advantage as they offer exceptionally established financial products across their large (and largely loyal and tacky ) customer bases, a wide networks of physical locations, and rich troves of info that pertain to customer accounts and demographic info. … .. Nonetheless, it isn’t enough to just have the info. They must manage to drive change through heritage thinking and infrastructures as things change around the entire industry as it struggles to adapt into a major new section (millennial customers) who increasingly use mobile apparatus and require more contextual services and a seamless and highly analytic- driven, unified banking encounter —an experience similar to what consumers typically experience via the Internet on net properties like Facebook, Amazon, Google, Yahoo and so on. … ..
3. Thee need for more  automation
The need to invent a closer banker/client experience is not just driving demand around data silos and streams themselves. It’s driving players to move from paper based models to highly automated model, digital and a more seamless to rework countless existing rear and front office processes —the weakest link in the chain.
4. The Demand to “Right- size” or Change Existing Business Models predicated on Opinions and Customer Preferences
The clear continuing subject in the wealth management space is constant innovation. Firms have to ask themselves if they’ve been offering the appropriate products that cater to an increasingly affluent yet dynamic clientele.
Judgment
The following post in this string will concentrate on the company lifecycle of wealth management. We’ll begin by describing granular use cases across the whole lifecycle from a company standpoint, and we’ll then examine the pivotal role of Big Data empowered architectures along with a fresh age reference design.
In the final and third post in this string, we round off the discussion using an examination of strategic business recommendations for wealth management firms —recommendations which I will consider will drive astounding business advantages by providing a first-class customer experience and finally innovative offerings.

Best software development practices

Most software projects fail. In reality, the Standish group reports that over 80% of jobs are unsuccessful because they’re over budget, late, missing function, or a blend. Also, 30% of software projects are so poorly executed that they are canceled before completion. In our expertise, applications projects using modern technologies like Java, J2EE, XML, and Web Services are no exception to this rule.
This article includes a summary of best practices for software development jobs. Business luminaries such as Scott Ambler, Martin Fowler, Steve McConnell, and Karl Wiegers have recorded many of these best practices online and they are referenced in this article. See the Related information section at the end of this article. The companion article, Guide to Running Software Development Projects, describes the top ten variables that help enhance the success of your project.
Best software development practices
1. Development procedure – It’s important because all other actions are derived from the procedure to pick the development lifecycle process that is proper to the software project at hand. Over a waterfall process, some kind of spiral-based methodology is used for most modern software development jobs. Having a procedure is better than not having one at all, and in many cases it’s less important than how well it is implemented on what procedure is used,. The generally used methodologies listed above all feature guidance about the best way to implement the procedure and templates for artifacts.
2. Requirements – Gathering and concurring on requirements is essential to a successful software project. This does not automatically entail that all requirements have to be fixed before any architecture, design, and coding but it really is essential for the software development team to realize what has to be built. Quality requirements are broken up into two kinds: functional and nonfunctional. A good means to record functional requirements is using Use Cases. An authoritative publication on the matter of use cases is by Armour and Miller [5]. Non-functional requirements describe the functionality and system features of the program. It’s important to collect them because they have a major impact on the software architecture, design, and functionality.
3. Architecture – Picking the appropriate design for your software  is crucial. Many times we’ve found that the software development team didn’t implement well-known architecture best practices.Practices that are tried and true are called patterns and they range from the classic Gang of Four [6] patterns, Java designs [7], to EJB design patterns [8]. The equivalent of Sun is the Core J2EE Patterns catalogue [9]. Many software projects fail as discussed in the introduction. The study of these failures has given rise to the notion of antipatterns. They’re valuable because they provide useful knowledge of what doesn’t work, and why.
4. Design – Even with a superb software architecture it really is still possible to have a lousy layout. Many programs are over-designed or under-designed. Reuse is one of the great promises of OO, but it’s often unrealized because of the added effort needed to create reusable assets. Code reuse is but one form of reuse and there are other kinds of reuse that can supply better productivity increases.
Agile teams are under pressure to deliver working. They’re additionally available to their customers for possibly radical requirements changes at any stage in the endeavor. They and their code must be capable of turning on a dime at any moment. So agile teams put tremendous value on the extensibility of their code: the extent to which they can easily maintain and expand it. Elsewhere we discuss how refactoring that is important is to keeping code extensible. The other vital component of extensibility is code design ease. Extensibility seems to be inversely proportional to design complexity.
In any agile context, straightforward design means, to paraphrase the poet Wallace Stevens, “the art of what suffices.” It means programming for today’s prerequisites that are stated, and more. It means doing more with less. But this isn’t always a natural disposition for us programmers.
But the truth about layout intricacy of all kinds is that we often find that technologies or the additional abstractions don’t become wings that free us, but rather shackles that bind us. Whatever additional stuff we add, we’re indeed clamping to our legs, to lug around then from feature to feature, from iteration to iteration, and from release to release. There are mountains of distressing old lessons behind this maxim.
5. Construction of the code – Construction of the code is a fraction of the overall software project effort, but it’s often the most observable. Requirements, architecture, analysis, design, and test are included by other work important. In endeavors with no software development process (so-called “code and fix”), these jobs are also occurring, but under the guise of programming. A best practice for building code comprises the daily build and smoke test. Martin Fowler goes one step further and suggests continuous integration that also integrates the concept of self and unit tests -testing code. Note that even though continuous integration and unit tests have gained popularity through XP, you can use these best practices on all types of endeavors. I advocate using frameworks that are standard to automate builds and testing, such as JUnit and Ant.
Which is to say, it is easier for them to keep the flaws in the code to really low levels, and hence more easy for them to add features, make changes, and still produce very low-defect code every iteration.
After experimenting with different ways to keep upward evaluation coverage at those optimum amounts, agile teams hit upon the practice of Test-First programming. Test-First programming demands creating automated unit tests for production code, before that production code is written by you. Instead of writing evaluations afterward (or, more usually, not ever writing those evaluations), you always start with an unit test. This evaluation might not even compile, in the beginning, because not all the classes and methods it requires may exist. Nevertheless, it functions as a kind of executable specification. (Occasionally you expect it to fail, and it passes, which is beneficial info.) You subsequently make just as much code as will empower that test to pass.
6. Pair Programming – It is vital that you review other people’s work. Experience has provided evidence for that difficulties are removed before this way and reviews are powerful or more effective than testing. Any artifact from the software development procedure is reviewed, including test cases, and strategies, requirements, structure, design, code. Peer reviews are helpful in trying to create software quality at top speed.
Research results and anecdotal reports seem to show that short-term productivity might fall modestly (about 15%), but because the code generated is so much better, long-term productivity goes up. And definitely it is dependent upon how you measure productivity, and over what period. In an agile context, productivity is frequently quantified in running, tested features truly delivered per iteration and per release.
Definitely as a mechanism that is mentoring, pairing is tough to beat. If pairs switch off consistently (as they should), pairing disperses knowledge throughout the team with great efficacy.
7. Testing – Testing is not cutback or an afterthought when the program gets tight. It’s also important that testing is done proactively; test cases are developed while the program is being designed and coded, and significance that test cases are planned before coding starts. Additionally, there are several testing routines which were developed.
8. Performance testing – Testing is generally the last resort to catch program flaws. It generally just catches coding flaws and is labor intensive. Design and architecture flaws may be missed. One method to get some architectural defects is to mimic load testing on the program before it is deployed and to take care of performance issues before they become problems.
9. Continuous Integration – Traditional software development approaches do’t order how frequently or regularly you integrate all the source on a software project. Programmers can work individually for hours, days, or even weeks on the same source without recognizing how many conflicts (and maybe bugs) they are creating. Agile teams, because they are producing robust code each iteration, generally find they are slowed down by the long diff- resolution and debugging sessions that frequently occur at the ending of long integration cycles. The more the code is being shared by programmers, the more problematic this is. For these reasons, agile teams frequently consequently choose to use Continuous Integration.
Agile teams generally configure CI to contain source control integration, unit test execution, and automated compilation. Sometimes CI also comprises automatically running automated approval tests for example those developed using FitNesse.
10. Quality and defects direction – It’s crucial that you establish launch standards and quality priorities for the software project so that a strategy is built to help the team achieve quality applications. As the job is coded and analyzed, fix speed and the defect coming can help measure the maturity of the code. It is important that a defect tracking system is used that is linked to the source control management system. For example, jobs using Rational ClearCase may also use Rational ClearQuest. By using defect tracking, it is not impossible to gauge when a software project is prepared to release.
11. Code Refactoring – refactoring is the process of simplifying and clarifying the layout of existing code, without changing its behavior. This is because un-refactored code has a tendency to rot. Rot takes several kinds: unhealthy addictions between classes or packages, lousy allotment of class duties, way too many duties per method or group, duplicate code, and many other varieties of confusion and clutter.
Every time code changes without refactoring it, rot worsens and spreads. Us frustrates, costs us time, and unduly shortens the lifespan of useful systems.
Refactoring code ruthlessly prevents rot, keeping the code simple to maintain and expand. This is the measure of its success and the reason to refactor. But notice that it is only “ safe” to refactor the code this widely if we’ve got wide-ranging unit test suites of the type we get if we work Evaluation-First. We run the risk of introducing bugs, without being able to run those tests after each little step in a refactoring. If you’re doing true Test-Driven Development (TDD), in which the design evolves constantly, then you’ve got no choice about regular refactoring, since that’s how you develop the layout.
12. Deployment – Deployment is the final stage of releasing an application for users. If you get this far in your software project – congratulations! However, there are still things that can FAIL. You should plan for deployment and a deployment checklist can be used by you on the Construx Web site.
13. System operations and support – Without the operations section, you cannot deploy and support a brand new program. The support area is an essential component to react and resolve user problems. To ease the flow of difficulties, the support issue database is hooked into the program defect tracking system.
14. Data migration – Most applications aren’t brand new, but are rewrites or improvements of existing applications. Data migration from the present data sources is typically a significant endeavor by itself. This isn’t a software project for your junior programmers. It is as important as the new program. Generally the new application anticipates higher quality data and has business rules that are better. Improving the quality of data is a complex matter outside the scope of this article.
15. Project management – Many of the other best practice places described in this post are related to project management and an excellent project manager is conscious of the existence of these best practices. Our recommended bible for project management is Rapid Development by Steve McConnell [14]. One method to manage a job that is difficult is through timeboxing.