The emerging technologies to watch out for in 2017 and beyond

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The wealth landscape is changing quickly as new technologies are developed. Summarised here are the top advisory world technology trends for 2017 that will make life easier for you and help nurture and inform your relationships with clients.

APIs and the cloud marketplace

The application programming interface (API) is fundamental to the future. APIs are the ‘plug and cable’ of new technology. They allow different systems to talk with each other and pass data back and forth.

Historically, technology has often been heavy and vertically integrated. This meant that one application would perform many functions. That’s reflected in older planning software solutions, which delivered all components of the planner and client experience, such as customer relationship management (CRM) systems, fee engines and compliance tools. Now, fintech innovation is driving the growth of specialist tools in all of these areas. The significance of the API is that it allows seamless integration between these ‘specialist’ systems.

We also expect a more connected marketplace via the cloud, which allows for the external storage of data and management of information systems. Xero, the cloud-based accounting software provider, is a master of this type of business. In the marketplace for add-on apps, there are more than 500 tightly integrated solutions, using the core accounting data from Xero and talking through APIs. For example, if you want to manage debtors better, there are 13 specialist add-on apps to choose from, which allows you to customise your online accounting solution.

This approach to building a business is coming to financial advice. The core technology will be a CRM tool, with API-integrated apps delivering everything from financial strategies, ‘what-if’ analysis and portfolio management, to robo-advice, profiling, insurance comparisons, virtual meetings, statement-of-advice production, cashflow analysis, budgeting and more. The leading US provider of financial planning technology, MoneyGuidePro, has 47 integrated partners already in place.

The dominance of data aggregation

Not heard of Yodlee, eWise, Class or InvestmentLink? I suggest you check them out. These data aggregation tools are the engine rooms of the future, as they provide access to vast quantities of relevant client data. In the case of Yodlee and eWise, they also enable data to be collected from your clients’ accounts if they provide access to their usernames and passwords.

Nearly every emerging wealth-tech provider in Australia uses these tools and they allow the balance sheets and finances of clients to be created and analysed quickly and efficiently. The real power of data aggregation is the value of the data and the actionable insights it provides. Yodlee was purchased by US financial planning software provider Envestnet for about US$600 million, reflecting the value of data aggregation in the future of financial planning.

Robo is not going anywhere

Expect the rise of the robo-adviser to continue. The marketplace in Australia is crowded and not everyone will survive, but if the US experience is any guide, we will see the big wealth providers and broking businesses in Australia buy or build their way into the space.

Look out for robo-advisers pushing their way into the high-net-wealth space and into superannuation providers, too, with more sophisticated product offerings. Equip MyMoney launched its robo investment service in August 2016. This represents the first major push of a superannuation fund in Australia into the sector. Expect more to follow next year.

Artificial intelligence is on its way 

The application of artificial intelligence (AI) to financial services is becoming mainstream. Smart machines and technology can turn data into customer insights and enhance service provisions, bringing the digital experience closer to human interactions.

US startup Clinc, coming out of the University of Michigan, is using deep learning technologies to deliver AI tools that will enable consumers to interact with their banking and financial services providers using natural language interaction.

Spanish Bank Santander is using voice recognition via its banking app. In Sweden, Swedbank’s Nina assistant is dealing with 30,000 conversations a month and achieving a 78 per cent first resolution rate.

At SuiteBox, we are already experimenting with the application of AI to meetings. Converting video content to text will allow us to offer analysis tools around meeting content. Facial recognition technology will expand this into the analysis of facial movements in meetings.

Video killed the …

 Global fintech marketing and events company Finovate has named virtual meeting rooms one of the leading wealth technology trends for 2017.

Why is this? Simply because video-based engagement can deliver significant business benefits and an enhanced client experience. Take, for example, Nationwide, the world’s largest building society, which boasts a relationship with 1 in 4 households in the UK via its 700 branches and 400 mortgage specialists. After the implementation of a video-consulting service, Nationwide measured customer experience, new business uplift and cost and found that 93 per cent of customers who had experienced a video meeting said it was an excellent replacement for a face-to-face consultation.

As highlighted by Finovate, very few advisers list videoconferencing as one of their communication methods, but many more expect to rely on it within five years. This represents a significant growth area.

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