India’s Wealth Market & Embracing FinTech and Digital Innovation in Wealth Management
Hubbis held its first live wealth management forum since 2019 in Mumbai on September 7 and the fourth panel discussion of the day focused on the evolution of digital innovation in the dynamic Indian wealth market. One of our expert speakers, Alok Saigal, President & Head Private Wealth of Edelweiss Private Wealth, responded to questions posed by Banesh Prabhu, Chief Executive Officer, Intellect SEEC - Insurance, Wealth & Capital Markets at Intellect Design Arena, and sponsor of the discussion. We have distilled some of the insights Alok offered delegates in this short report.
Alok responded to comments from a fellow panellist around the importance of elevating the customer experience, scalability, digital agility, and other key elements, offering his own perspective.
“As you move up the wealth spectrum, we realise increasingly that we have three stakeholders, the customer, the relationship manager, and third, which actually nobody talks about, is our service manager, because we need to draw all these elements together to solve and produce ease of use and access,” he explained. “Actually, we have achieved what we believe is the first ultra HNWI private wealth app; I am biased, but it not only looks good, but it is also very efficient. And if you ask me what the priority is for us, it is to do very simple things very efficiently, right from onboarding and all the way through.”
He said that onboarding private banking customers around the world takes anywhere up to three months, possibly beyond, and in India it can be done often in seven to 15 days, and Edelweiss has even squeezed that down to one or two days. “And at the other end, can we ensure 100% high value, error-free automated transaction processing, whatever the customer's requests might be?” he pondered. “Yes, and getting these relatively simple things right, getting customer statements correct and all these challenges must come through the service manager, who might then liaise with the product creators to clarify information.”
He said that this process of verification and checking can take two to seven days, but that Edelweiss has automated, and was even linking it into the use of WhatsApp for more instantaneous communication. “These are the sort of things that give us the edge, and the core areas we focus on are onboarding, transaction processing and the reporting.”
Alok expanded on these comments, noting that a key challenge in the wealth industry is to get a mindset change. “People might think that the rich and super-rich clients will not be digital, and will steer away from the apps, but we experimented with one of the apps, and used the one-time-pin protocol for verification and despite concerns and resistance internally, it worked really well. The fact is that every time some innovation has been brought about, there is always a struggle, so you have to shift the entire culture and the ecosystem. In short, execution is obviously a big challenge, but that’s now hygiene, the key really is changing the mindset of people, moving the whole think into the new world. For example, all legal contracts are actually moving digital and that is the future.”
Another panellist highlighted the need for an omnichannel experience and said that a core objective of their digital transformation centres on using tech to really simplify the lives of all the parties to the experience, in other words the RMs, the external partners, the customers and internally as well.
Alok agreed and said that digital transformation must also focus itself on the evolution of investment and broader wealth management trends in India. He explained, for example, that wealthy Indians are more global in outlook, in lifestyles, in asset allocation and potentially even in their choice of jurisdiction for themselves and families.
“Families are increasingly diversified abroad, much more so than even five or 10 years ago, so we need to be able to provide them the right solutions and a more comprehensive, holistic offering,” he said. “They need a variety of solutions at home and overseas.”
He said Edelweiss has two approaches to solving these challenges. “First, we do not have the scale to handle all this ourselves, so we have tie-ups with platforms, linking to some of the best global names in their respective geographies, and then aiming to provide bespoke solutions to our customers in those various geographies,” he reported. “And we have also tied up with couple of FinTechs.”
He explained that as they do this, they are boosting both the solutions and ideas for these customers who want global access, and who want to assemble more sophisticated, more complex global portfolios. “Accordingly, from the technology viewpoint, we need to create bridges to cross-border platforms, moving towards integration via APIs and more in the open banking direction. And I can say that this type of integration is much easier today than in the past, thanks to APIs.”
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