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January - 2017 - issue > CXO Insights

FinTech - The Emerging Industry in India

Abhijit Kargirwar, Head- HNI and Wealth Management, Runwal Group
Tuesday, January 31, 2017
Abhijit Kargirwar, Head- HNI and Wealth Management, Runwal Group
Against the backdrop of the major disruption from social media, a related disruption is occurring through financial technology, or Fintech. Unlike the slow pace of adoption of social media in wealth management, the financial services industry is rapidly embracing financial technologies that solve everyday problems such as payments and transactions, mobile trading, commodities markets, FX, peer to-peer lending and crowd-funding, retail banking, risk and compliance, security and privacy, digital and alternative currencies, digital wallets, financial advisory services and insurance.

There are several parallels with social media: first, Fintech is disruptive in its own right to wealth management's 'business-as-usual' models. Secondly, the advent of Fintech is generational - figuratively and literally - with a younger breed of innovators providing timely and creative solutions for the next generation of consumers. Third, comes innovative thinking. With Fintechs delivering radical ideas to build, deliver, access and advance IT infrastructure at financial institutions - often with a common goal of improving the customer experience. Interestingly, several brick-and-mortar Fintech hubs are being built globally, creating a tangible presence – think Amazon in the big-box retail world – which cannot be duplicated in the social media realm.

As a clear-cut indicator of how the financial services industry has embraced Fintech, global investments have more than tripled to USD 3 billion in 2013 from USD 930 million in 2008. The nascent Fintech industry has seen rapid growth over the last few years. According to the office of the Mayor of London, 40 percent of London's workforce is employed in financial and technology services. An example of innovative financial technology, California-based Invest Cloud delivers collaborative cloud-based securities solutions. Their platform targets the wealth management industry in particular, seamlessly integrating its scalable and swappable applications with other technologies, applications and processes via existing infrastructure.

The Dangers of Disintermediation
At a point not too long ago, wealth managers strongly influenced client decisions – with few questions asked. Ignoring the link between the customer and the end results they seek can put companies in danger. Wealth managers generally work as enablers, helping to provide access to investments, professional guidance and, hopefully, peace of mind for their clients. As technology helps eliminate the need for middlemen, customers who are accustomed to connecting directly with unfiltered investment advice will demand an even higher level of service for an even lower price point if and when they ultimately seek out investment help. As an example of this phenomenon, early-adopter consumers are gravitating towards 'robo-advisor' sites such as Financial Engines, Wealthfront, Nutmeg, and Betterment among other online wealth advisory firms. These firms employ traditional algorithm-based portfolio management to create low-cost online portfolios that appeal to tech-savvy consumers, with minimal involvement by a human advisor.

Wealth management is no longer reserved for the wealthiest of clients. By applying customer-friendly technologies, robo-advisors reach an under-served segment of younger and smaller investors who are largely ignored by traditional wealth firms. Robo advisors are well positioned to win their share of the anticipated wealth transfer to Millennial from their Baby Boomer parents. Their recent growth is impressive (estimated at USD5 billion in assets under management); however this is barely a fraction of the USD18 trillion retail investment market. Most adopters of robo advisors are younger and enjoy the ability to do their own research. They want to be informed and be in control and feel more self-confident than their Baby boomer parents.
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