Gautam Samanta, Global Head of BFS at NIIT Technologies Limited is in an excellent position to view the changing landscape of wealth management business.
His firm is a mid-size technology firm headquartered in India with some 10,000 staff, focused on three domains around the world: financial services, insurance and travel and transport. While the company started as an IT training company and later got into Technology Services business, the heritage of learning has helped its foray into emerging technologies.
Within the financial services sector, NIIT is primarily focused on Asset and Wealth management domain, Samanta (pictured) explains that they have experience of working on 170 plus business processes with 1200 plus strong people who have deep domain experience. NIIT Tech has the experience of working with one of the largest wealth platforms in its lifecycle journey. The platform background gave the firm a unique exposure from front to back in developing and managing a platform, platform roll out as well running the operations, Samanta says.
“There has been rapid change in this sector,” Samanta says. “Almost a tsunami that is happening in the industry. At one end assets under management are continuing to grow but at the other end there are significant headwinds coming from a few areas.”
The first he names is a huge change in customer expectation. “With all pervading technological changes, technology is touching all aspects of life. People are getting exposed to certain digital experiences, so they expect that to come into wealth management – they expect that level of richness of experience to come in.”
He describes Millennials as ‘digital natives.’ “And certain wealth managers have been laggards in the digital world to the extent that there is almost a digital emergency because the gap is widening so fast.”
There are digital players who are causing disruption and challenging established players, such as those delivering robo-advice which, he says, gives a digital feel but also offers competitive pricing.
“This intermediation is bringing in competition,” he says. “And the vulnerability of business has gone up with increased compliance and cyber threats which add to the cost as organisations need to invest to protect their businesses.”
Samanta feels that the challenges which are coming in are impacting the whole industry.
“There are technologies available to address this and there are players who are making that investment,” he says. “It becomes a situation where those who are laggards in investing in technology could be vulnerable to consolidation.”
Samanta believes that data is almost the oil of today. “The technology to get meaningful insights is there because the customer’s expectation is that they want more contextual information and data analytics can give that to them.”
The digital transformation enhances customer experience, he says, and increased automation, helps existing players to reduce their running costs, enabling them to invest in doing other things in the digital area.
“Moving into the cloud is making a big difference enabling the companies to be flexible in terms of their infrastructure,” he says.
“If you are in the cloud you can change your infrastructure quickly without the lead time to scale up or scale down. Leveraging the Fintech ecosystem can help in reducing the time to market. Many Fintech start-ups have an elegant solution so you don’t need to come up with solutions yourself, you can stitch it together to create the right solutions for clients.”