Asset & Wealth Managers are not thinking broadly enough about Automation
Automation is a subject which has been a hot topic of debate across many industries for a number of years. The Automotive and Manufacturing industries, for example, have extensively embraced automation, and we have seen the Financial Services market look to capitalize on the benefits that these sectors have experienced. The prospect of automating high volume, manual processes which can reduce costs and errors, but also free up human capital to work on higher value tasks, is appealing.
As such, we have seen areas within Asset Management such as regular reporting, client onboarding, finance processes, and a number of sales/marketing and operational activities be the main use cases firms have focused on. To achieve this, firms have used a range of various technologies, however few have been able to turn these individual technologies into cohesive automation platforms.
Whilst many Asset Managers have a number of different automation projects underway with numerous vendors and significant budget spend, the reality is that most firms may not be getting the value out of automation that they could.
As firms start to consider various automation use cases, it is quickly becoming apparent that it needs to involve more than just a single technology, system or development capability. There is no single solution which covers the myriad of use cases that an Asset or Wealth Manager might want to target. Firms are instead faced with building a portfolio of appropriate tools which need to integrate with their overall technology & data stack.
As an example, the list below shows the different types of automation tools that are suitable for different scenarios:
Data provisioning tools e.g. APIs, ETL (Extract, Transfer, Load) tools
System/function specific workflows e.g. Salesforce, Aladdin
Business process management/workflow tools e.g. onboarding processes
RPA to “Gap Fill”
From our annual Digital Readiness survey, we are also hearing that firms face common challenges in making the most out of their automation investments. These challenges include:
We suggest that firms are not getting the most out of the automation capabilities they may have invested in, because it falls between various functions within a firm and most firms have not understood how to organise around it.
The question that firms are now addressing is whether they continue to develop a range of point solutions for different use cases, run by different parts of the company, or whether they view automation as a core capability and view it as a platform which can be deployed widely across the firm.
This can maximise the value that firms get out of automation tools if there is a broad enough set of use cases – in our opinion it should not be a single or a small number of use cases.
Our view is that firms should aim to proliferate use cases across all functions of the Asset Manager, providing opportunities to automate not just within one function (e.g . Operations) but across Investments, Distribution and enterprise functions (e.g Finance) .
We see two key aspects to answering the question: Technology and Organisation.
Automation Technology Platforms
On the technology side, the portfolio of automation technologies should be designed within a connected solution architecture.
In addition, firms should investigate how developments from the leading vendors are enabling enhanced scalability through Low/No Code platforms. This can help to distribute the development effort and responsibility outside of specific technology teams and into “Citizen Developers” who will be able to execute a level of automation on a self-serve basis.
It is notable that this approach has been executed within the Asset Management industry already, especially across green-field firms who are able to build without the burden of legacy technology and organisational structures.
Governance and Org Set-up
Throughout 2022, we expect to see the focus switch to more questions about how to organise around these common capability platforms and how to drive an automation strategy across the firm.
There are three key priorities that we expect to become the organisational focus for Asset Managers to drive a scaled automation platform:
Establishing Strategic Leadership Groups on Automation and setting a firm-wide vision
Establishing governance processes to identify, prioritise and execute across use cases
Exploring what Low Code platforms and what the “Citizen Developer” model would mean within their organisation
What To Do Now
Take stock of where you are now. Understand the tools and use cases across the organisation to assess the value you are currently getting
Set a vision for the future of automation, and a strategy for how it can be deployed across the firm
Look to upgrade or transform the current Automation Technology stack, and gain access to new capabilities which incumbent and new vendors are bringing to the market
Develop the governance and organisational structure to deliver that vision.
We would be delighted to discuss both our experience and capabilities with you in the context of these findings and broader market trends, to explore how your organisation could benefit. For further information please contact us here.