The Co-founder and Chief Product Officer of financial cloud platform InvestCloud talks to Harriet O’Brien about how technology is vital in creating portfolio personalisation for investors.
The pandemic has pushed a great many aspects of life online, not least financial advice – and on the face of it, this increased digitisation might be seen to run counter to the growing demand for greater personalisation by clients. But on the contrary, says InvestCloud’s Yaela Shamberg, technology is an ever-more important resource for wealth advisers, aiding engagement with clients and enabling hyper-tailored portfolio construction as well as presenting opportunities for progressively more sophisticated financial planning.
Founded in California in 2010, InvestCloud is a global tech company offering cloud-based digital financial tools, apps and platforms, with an approach that combines a design focus with behavioural science expertise. At its core is a “Digital Warehouse” cataloguing data for seamless search and access all over the world. With more than 550 clients, InvestCloud operates in more than 40 countries and has USD6.3 trillion assets under management. In November 2021, its latest major product, InvestCloud X, was launched. This presents three seminal financial platforms – for digital planning, digital communication (especially interaction between advisers and clients), and digital shopping. The latter platform, which InvestCloud calls the Financial Supermarket, is described by Shamberg as “an Amazon-like market place for distributors and manufacturers. It also breaks down barriers for advisers and even end clients so that they are able to have access to a huge variety of financial products.”
Behind all the technology is very human grounding. Shamberg describes InvestCloud’s humble start in a garage: “There were six of us and we had a vision that any investor, regardless of size, could have access to first-class digital information through the cloud. That’s still what we go for; we want to make sure that any investor has access to a global, scalable, secure, innovative platform.”
There was a time, before the pandemic, she adds, when there were expectations that digitisation would increase automation at the expense of financial advisers: “There was a lot of talk about robo and how no one would need real human advice.” But that didn’t happen, she says “because money is a very emotional topic. You need a human connection for financial advice; you need a relationship garnering trust.”
Yet advisers do need to embrace technology, she insists. They need to be able offer digital empathy, understanding a client by using technology to explore individual needs and preferences, and then to present choice, to produce curated content and to offer transparency and access to information. At InvestCloud, she adds, they create a digital roadmap for clients detailing their future investment journey based on a thorough understanding of what they are hoping to achieve and what’s relevant to their interests and values. InvestCloud, she adds, has created more than 7,000 unique user experiences – and this has mainly been achieved through sophisticated digital empathy, and through the company’s approach to transparency and data curation