Two minutes with… Kevin Russell, Proposition Director, SEI
MRM has just launched its latest report, “Why financial planners and wealth managers can’t afford to ignore the digital world”. In this 2 minutes with segment, we grill one of the contributors, Kevin Russell, Proposition Director at SEI, on the steps those in the industry should be taking to ensure they don’t get left behind by not adopting digital technology.
- Compared with other industries, how effectively do you think wealth managers and financial planners have adopted digital technology?
Unlike other industries, technology is not always front and centre of the mind-set for most wealth managers. There are a select few who have made great strides with their technology capability, but we are still at the stage where it is regarded as a specific point of differentiation. It’s seen as just one of a number of tools wealth managers have at their disposal which helps them provide a service which is relevant and adds value to clients, as well as being compelling and differentiated.
- What do you think are the main obstacles faced by those without a successful digital technology strategy?
Many lack the scale or experience needed to invest in and maintain technology that supports their client proposition and operating model, particularly when you consider the changing landscape both in our industry and in the digital world as a whole. Additionally, spending time on technology can detract from a focus on the customer and the business, which for many is an inhibitor to growth, not an enabler.
Other issues, including time pressures, other priorities such as regulation, lack of confidence and knowledge about how to engage with suppliers and integrate solutions into their business are all factors which are impacting adoption.
- What sort of opportunities await wealth managers and financial planners who do successfully implement digital technology?
For those who do prioritise technology, there are significant opportunities. It can be deployed to deliver a range of benefits: access to new clients who are not necessarily rooted to a single geographical area, particularly younger ones, new markets, lower costs via automation and improved control through integration and straight through processing.
- Are there any segments of the market that wouldn’t benefit from an increased uptake of technology in businesses?
Use of digital solutions is often associated with younger segments of the market, but actually consumers of all ages and levels of wealth are becoming increasingly comfortable using technology in their everyday lives. With this in mind, there is no segment of the market that would not benefit from a more digitalised offer.
- Who or what should be the first port of call for wealth managers and financial planners looking for help in digitalising their businesses?
Their customers. These firms live and die by their customers, so any digital strategy should have the needs of the customer at its heart. Firms need to consider who their customers are, what they want from the service and how a move towards digital might provide a slicker and more engaging service. Wealth managers should explore options with them and take their feedback on board.
- Tell us a little about your life outside of work. Do you have any hobbies?
I love watching and playing competitive sport, any sport…my wife says I’d watch tiddlywinks if it was on TV! When not doing that I enjoy the odd glass of wine and time with my family.
- What is the one column or website that you read every day?
I travel a lot and am an avid reader of the Times on my Kindle, trade press and Linked-in updates keep me occupied in between times.
- What is your biggest pet peeve, or makes you angry?
I am a shade obsessive compulsive and I can get upset with clutter and mess. My wife is coaching me to deal with this as she does not share this trait! But my biggest no-no is negativity; I don’t like it and avoid people who display it where possible.
- What would you do if you were Prime Minister for a day?
That’s easy, I’d stop Brexit and Joxit, but don’t expect me to wear a tie!
- What would you do if you received a windfall of £10,000?
I’d send my sister and her husband off on a holiday. She’s had a tough time recovering from the big C and needs a nice break!