In the aftermath of the global financial crisis, the regulatory landscape is transforming across regions. Many regulatory changes have had a direct or indirect impact on the wealth management industry. As a result, the cost of compliance for wealth managers is on the rise. Adoption of technology is one way to cut costs, manage risks, increase efficiency, and offer better client service.
Asia has witnessed higher economic growth than other regions, and that provides a big opportunity for financial firms to expand in this market. In a new report, Wealth Management Vendors in Asia, Celent discusses the latest technology trends in the Asian wealth management market and profiles nine leading vendors and their offerings in the space.
Many global wealth management firms are already entering and scaling up their operations in Asia. However, the industry is facing obstacles. There is a serious dearth of talent available for wealth managers in the region. As a result, firms that downsized in the last two years are now finding it difficult to scale up. The regulatory landscape is undergoing significant transformation. Some of the main aspects that have come under regulators' immediate supervision include: better risk management, higher capital requirements, transparency, investor protection, know your customer (KYC), and disclosure norms. As a result of these regulatory requirements, the cost of compliance continues to rise. Firms are adapting to these regulatory and market changes by deploying new technologies. Thus far, financial services firms in Asia have not been as aggressive in deploying new technology as their western counterparts.
A discussion on wealth management technology and vendors in Asia is therefore very appropriate and timely. However, one needs to keep in mind a few salient features about the market. First, technology adoption in the region lags the Western markets. Second, a significant driver of technology adoption has been international firms, which often use a "toned down" version of their global solution for Asian operations. Third, even the Asian technology vendors had been focusing on the Western markets until recently; however, with growth opportunities shrinking in Europe and US, vendors are increasingly looking to tap into the burgeoning Asian market. Many of them are in the process of setting up their client base in the region and are tailoring their offerings for specific needs of firms in different countries. For this report, Celent focuses on those vendors with solutions that are geared towards advisors, have web-based capability for advisor-centric tools, and have live clients in Asia. Many vendors have just started getting clients on board, or are still exploring opportunities with firms.
Asian wealth managers are interested in adopting solutions that offer a single workbench covering broad portfolio management functionality, data warehousing, order management, and due diligence. When it comes to technology deployments, a majority of projects at Asian financial institutions are in-house.
"Integrated platforms, back office systems providing support for multiple asset classes, and account aggregation features are becoming popular," says Arin Ray, analyst at Celent and author of the report. "Banks are increasingly looking at a common platform to service their wealth management customers, even though they recognize that some of the functional areas would still be handled by niche solution vendors. They are looking to integrate applications/tools in different areas like CRM, financial planning, proposal generation, investment management, reporting, and portfolio monitoring."