Standard Chartered’s Indonesia Head of Wealth on Delivering a Digitised Model Fit for the Future
Meru Arumdalu of Standard Chartered Bank
Aug 25, 2022
Hubbis held the Indonesia Wealth Management Forum in Jakarta on July 6, at which Meru Arumdalu, Head of Wealth Management for Standard Chartered Bank in Jakarta, offered her insights into how private banks and wealth firms should be positioning for the growth that lies ahead as Indonesia’s economy continues its progress in the post-pandemic world. She explained that despite some early scepticism and initial resistance, the bank had managed to deliver a much more digital and also hybrid wealth management model that both customers and team members can now utilise. At the same time, the bank had also managed to curate and deliver a suite of products that is more relevant to difficult conditions, focusing attention especially on income and bancassurance.
Meru opened her observations by explaining that Standard Chartered takes a balanced view on the business model from the perspectives of both the clients and the bank’s team members.
“Since the pandemic struck, we have evolved our wealth management business model to focus on more digital offering,” he reported. “At first, it seemed like a difficult transition for both customers and the team, as the priority clients and wealthier customers preferred their engagement directly with the RMs. But the pandemic fast-tracked the transition to a more digital model and, despite initial hurdles for clients and for our people, we have achieved significant progress.”
Another challenge, she noted, was the country’s less-developed internet infrastructure. “That meant it was especially difficult to work remotely and to ensure the right level of consistency, security and trust,” she explained. “In a remote world, it was tough to ensure staff were actually at home doing the work or not, and similarly challenging to achieve productivity and the delivery of good results.”
However, she explained that the Bank was able to adjust along the way to deliver a good quality business model and client offering. “When most of our team members were able to avoid Jakarta’s notorious traffic, we were able to drive higher efficiencies and deliver well for our clients, wherever they were,” she added.
“In short,” she reported, “we have discovered that the effectiveness or the productivity was not as bad as we initially expected. “Moreover, we have managed to keep a sense of teamwork, creativity and team engagements, at the same time as managing to deliver for our customers a more digital-focused model with seamless communication, and get them over the initial concerns about not being able to meet advisors and RMs and others face to face.”
She explained that the bank had managed to engage very well with customers, and in some areas, actually improved the non-face-to-face engagement through a variety of channels. “It took time initially, but it progressively improved,” she reported. “Overall, I think the pandemic has made everyone more resilient and more creative.”
Meru expanded on these comments, noting that the bank had also energised its drive towards differentiation of products.
“We saw our customers were heavily impacted by the COVID situation, in so many areas of their lives and their business activities as well as investments,” she said.
“We wanted to make sure clients feel comfortable investing in that new type of environment, keep cashflows going, enhance their income through dividend plays, and improve their portfolios to the more all-weather models that they need in uncertain conditions, similar to one that we are facing today.”
Meru said that customers were highly concerned about cash resources and income, as there were questions on how long the pandemic would last, and how bad it would get.
“We sought to create dividend generating products and also further develop the bancassurance side of the business, as part of the drive to encourage customers to think more robustly about health and protection for themselves and their families,” she told guests. “Of course, there are limitations as Indonesia’s range of products is still limited, but we did our best to offer more variety and relevance.”
Meru closed her remarks by observing that digital transformation has been accelerated by the pandemic. As such, it required hard work across all age groups, helping those over fifty years old to adopt digital despite their resistance, which is quite common in Indonesia. With patience and persistence, they are not quite familiar with digital engagement. To address this, Standard Chartered even introduced a new virtual event concept for our Priority Banking clients, allowing them to interact with the Bank in its partners in a virtual city.
Further, it also opened doors to more digital connectivity and engagement with the younger, more digital-native priority and other clients.
“And at the same time, we have worked hard to boost our RMs’ comfort level in working digitally, along with digital tools, and for other team members as well,” she reported. “We are now advancing this further, as I said with greater use of data and analytics to achieve an even more relevant and personalised offering.”
Head of Wealth Management at Standard Chartered Bank
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