By Jo Howes on Wednesday 19 December 2018
In the second instalment of a two part article Jo Howes, Commercial Director, CREALOGIX UK, examines where robo advice could head in 2019 and beyond.
In my previous article, I highlighted some technology trends in the wealth management industry that we can expect to see in 2019. However, as banking and finance is a very dynamic and progressive industry, a lot can change quickly. This has certainly been seen within the last couple of years, with new saving and investment fintechs posing a growing competitive challenge to the incumbent institutions with their mobile-first, customer-friendly offerings.
Financial brands need to track technology trends that are expected to come in future, aiming to become more proactive about developing their capabilities and ultimately building up a stronger competitive position. With that in mind, I’ll explore the medium and long-term trends that I expect will have an impact on the industry in the next 3-5 years, and that businesses need to start thinking about now if they are going to ensure they remain market leaders.
The wealth management sector is looking set to increase its offerings of voice interface add-ons. This could be, for example, through home IoT devices - “Siri, tell me how my portfolio is doing”, or perhaps a daily financial summary in your bathroom mirror!
This will work well for active investors and lead the way to further voice integration in what’s becoming known as “conversational banking”. Voice can help all kinds of investment services make their notifications smarter, providing contextual audio alerts for news or market changes, personalised to an investor’s interests and portfolio.
Augmented reality in everyday financial applications
While gaming is embracing fully immersive AR experiences, this has yet to go mainstream in the business world or with productivity apps. In the medium term a partial approach with AR through a mobile or tablet screen has more immediate use cases. One example is the ability to point your phone at a bill and get an overlay hovering over it to say whether you have sufficient funds in your bank account (or even if you’ve already paid it).
Cryptocurrency integrations for investment portfolios
Many investors are taking cryptocurrency seriously as part of a diversified portfolio, so we’ll see digital wealth management platforms present valuations alongside traditional assets, as well as start to implement API-based trading facilities in partnership with leading exchanges. Cryptocurrencies will remain a speculative and highly volatile investment class in 2019 but that will attract certain types of investors to keep experimenting.
SI: Swarm Intelligence
This is an emerging technology to keep an eye on, as quantitative trading strategies look for ways to improve their modelling of complex financial systems. Asset managers who already know how to model predictions will get a competitive edge from exploring hypothetical scenarios more intensively than via traditional methods. For the technology providers, simplifying access is the prime challenge.
While cryptocurrencies have gained headlines, the underlying technology is steadily maturing into serious business propositions, and I expect to see select players in asset management and treasury taking advantage of Distributed Ledger Technology in 2019. A number of start-ups are already promoting the idea of the “blockchain bank” but I expect this to take a while to prove in practice before receiving backing from major institutions.
AGI and quantum computing
Next year, I expect more banks to start thinking about the applications of Artificial General Intelligence and quantum computing. Businesses should consider when, not if, the ‘thinking’ power of AI in fuzzy real-world problems will overtake human abilities, probably by a combination of software development and raw computing power. Banks and financial services looking ahead ten years, or more, should consider what money, payments, and investing will look like at this time – and that includes AGIs as customers. If High Frequency Trading changed financial markets forever, imagine hundreds of superintelligent (probably corporate) minds competing for investment performance and leaving the human analysts in the dust… hopefully not literally!
Don’t go it alone
One thing really stands out when you try to survey the multiple threads of technological progress that are weaving to form the future: there is simply too much going on for one specialist or one sector-specific business to keep track of… let alone develop innovations for. This means the key strategic posture to be “future-ready” is to welcome collaboration, systematically and throughout the organisation. Being closed-off means missing out.
No organisation can stand alone and thrive in the ultra-fast, ultra-complex near future. Like the APIs and microservices which are accelerating the open banking revolution, the business as a whole needs to plug into hundreds of other specialist services and experts, and in turn contribute its own expertise in more autonomous, distributed, and focused ways throughout the ecosystem. The business of the future has to look much more like a swarm than a mainframe.