The digital world, and ironically how it allows greater personalisation, preoccupies Mark Trousdale, Chief Growth Officer at the international wealth-tech platform InvestCloud.
InvestCloud supports over USD2 trillion of assets and supplies software solutions for clients across the asset servicing and asset management sectors. The firm is actually four companies in one – a digital design agency focused on financial services; a financial software company; a cloud platform provider and a financial content provider.
Trousdale says: “We are very focused on improving the way investors and investment managers do their work and run their investments.”
The firm is 10 years old this April and has eight offices globally, across four countries and three continents. Growth has mostly come organically, Trousdale says.
The content provision part of their offering comes down to a belief that information is important.
“Philosophically we believe it’s important to have as much information across either an investor or an investment as possible,” Trousdale says. “It’s more than just structured data like valuations and transactions but it’s also important to understand what content is relevant – an extension of providing a single picture.”
InvestCloud has become more global over recent years and has also grown across segments in financial services, the firm is active across wealth management, institutional management and asset services, split 70 per cent to wealth, 20 to institutional and 10 per cent to asset services.
“We are much more global and diversified in terms of the segments we serve,” Trousdale says. “We have done a better job over time at highlighting our behavioural science and gamification experience and infusing everything we do with clients with those competencies.”
The company’s background lies in video gaming and behavioural science – the first product was a stock market game, so it lies in the company’s roots.
“We have done a better job over time of highlighting how that can be used for various digital propositions.”
He cites the personas that the firm offers, which allow the client to adapt the offering to suit different demographics – even down to changing the font size on the screen depending on which generation a client comes from.
“It enables any manager to create personas for each of their clients making it easier for managers to infuse digital experience with gaming theory.”
InvestCloud sees behavioural science as effectively three competencies: gaming theory; decision theory; and data science. The first two have seven principals of theory, while data science is focused to a large part on the powers of the firm’s digital warehouse stores of both structured data and unstructured data.
“We have a lot of information on the investors and the investments which can be used for next best actions or looking at which users are engaging with which portions of the digital offering,” Trousdale says.
“It’s a bit more intuitive for wealth and certainly very popular in wealth because advisers and investment managers are focusing on people. And in the institutional space, it’s just as germane, just not as intuitive because at the end of the day the representatives of an asset manager are human beings too and serve people such as intermediaries and advisers.”
Trousdale says that it is hard to keep relevant as an asset manager through performance alone and delivering on the human aspect can help with that.
“It is compelling that asset managers can grow their businesses, selling more products or increasing the longevity if you can offer a holistic compelling and even gamified experience. The more they see the value in the digital offering – the more they engage with you.”
InvestCloud works with large and small firms in asset management and wealth management.
“You don’t have to be one of the largest firms to be able to work with us,” he says. “In fact, we architected our stack and arranged the company so we can deliver more cost effectively, quickly and flexibly to democratise access to great technology. You just have to have the ambition and willingness to take digital risks.”
Looking forward, trends that Trousdale sees developing are fee compression, more far along in the US than in the UK, but it means that firms are looking for other ways to show value and differentiate themselves.
“People want more for less which takes some interesting turns in terms of what that looks like.”
Trousdale comments that asset managers are often great content creators but struggle to distribute their material in a personalised way.
A pension scheme might have 40-50 asset managers that it uses but it doesn’t want to receive that many sets of content uncurated. Asset managers are also distributing material to intermediaries but need different tool kits to get the right material to the right people.
“The technology is such that it is much more possible than it was 15 years ago to make it more personal,” he says. “Even 10 years ago if you wanted to personalise the volume was hundreds of thousands of investors and for institutions, dozens to hundreds, which challenged scale. But reaching individuals in a scaleable way now is possible as the technology is such that you can go back to the human without breaking your business.”
Trousdale has also observed that ETFs are on the up. “They continue to be a very customisable product that fits a lot of markets that is adaptive to lower fee demands,” he says.