This month, I had the pleasure of taking part in the wealth technology platform, Embark’s discussion on what the ‘Adviser Firm Ecosystem of 2025’ will look like.
Not only is the future of the advisory ecosystem a topic that I love covering, but seeing the recognition from big players such as Embark on the metamorphosis of the wealth industry shows that this change in the industry is very much happening now.
These changes are critical for IFAs and wealth managers who need to adapt to the environment we are living in and understand the technologies that can improve their offering to clients, which in turn benefits them.
Although there were so many important points raised by such a great panel that we could deep-dive into, I wanted to touch on a few covered in the discussion.
Why APIs are so important for collaboration to the wealth management ecosystem?
The right collaboration will lead to fine-tuned, personalised tools and increased automation that could help plug the large savings gap in the market and revolutionise the retail space that handles small ticket sizes.
As an API-first company, we believe that clients want to access their data that covers all of their assets in a holistic view and that sits under one ecosystem (Embark being a good example of this).
Historically, cash has been a neglected asset and it is not traditionally managed like other investment assets. APIs within a highly regulated structure can help to overcome the hurdles that the wealth industry has faced when managing cash. It enables us to use the data that already belongs to the clients and advisors seamlessly. Open Banking has made that possible now; I can use my banking data to vastly improve the financial services made accessible to me. Take Anti Money Laundering (AML) as an example, this necessary financial industry protocol will speed up immensely improving client experiences. Plus, recommendations will become much more personalised, and in turn, much more useful.
APIs are incredible, as it encourages and supports collaboration within the financial industry. Each API-focused business will have a highly specialised area that has an impact. Now, suddenly, two businesses can work together to better improve these financial experiences for the good of the customer (in our case, advisors and wealth managers) and the end-user (in our case, the client).
Ethical, social and governance (ESG) investing and how this impacts youth-oriented investments
We’ve spoken before about how ESG funds are becoming more and more important for clients who want to invest and place their cash into funds that match their value system. ESG criteria is at the top of the list of questions many clients are asking their advisers about when considering where to place their cash. Plus, now advisers are also considering ESG criteria when partnering with other businesses or using technological solutions to suit a range of client needs.
As I mentioned in the Embark discussion on the challenges and opportunities that we can see for financial advisor firms and how to utilise the client’s data: “We tend to talk about technology a lot. It is a differentiator for financial institutions. Can we help clients make judgement calls on their cash and ESG decisions through technology? I know at Akoni we can enable banks to make these judgement calls in the same way we see it happening with funds”.
Across the wealth industry, these types of ESG funds are becoming increasingly trendy, especially for the younger clientele who don’t fit the normal mould of the traditional wealth management client.
Digital transformation is now helping us all to serve the youth. Servicing this sector is now incredibly important. If you have a service focused on inter-generational wealth, that means you have to have digital tools for that younger generation. This generation may not want to interact in the same way as the traditional ‘white glove’ client. You need to have a wide range of tools to be able to service different sectors of one’s clientele efficiently. We are now seeing a shift in wealth clientele and opening up services for the masses.
The value of white-label, intuitive solutions embracing Open Finance and Open Banking for clients and advisors
At Akoni, we are very well engaged with the wealth sector and noticed that in times of uncertainty, as we have seen in the last year, cash becomes one of the leading assets as people will wait to decide when the environment is stable, with minimum risk, to go to market with their cash, or invest in property or assets. The topic of increased cash holdings across people in the UK has been discussed time and time again across the industry, in the news and on the Akoni blog.
We see that many clients are holding onto cash, even pre-covid, and now, more than ever, in this type of environment, everything is digital. Advisors need to be able to offer additional services on top of cash assets. This shows the value which also reflects in the fees. Most advisors we work with do not take a fee for the cash side as they see it as a gateway asset that will lead to other related investment decisions. We do have advisors who have earnings around it, but it’s more of a trend - they want to add value to their clients lives.
White-label solutions can solve many questions for advisors and clients around their cash. We believe that it can be used as an auto-tool to advise clients on where they should spend their money, when to invest money and a whole other range of insights to help the client if they are so inclined. For an example, You may say to your client, Dear Bob, you have paid your bills and you have £5000, you can take your grandchildren out for a holiday post-Covid. This is all prompted using simple tools that enhance Open Banking and is considered to be Open Finance.
We can see that when a client wants to hold cash, the wealth industry can help them along their journey and provide a platform that can service what is becoming a bigger market thanks to the opening up of financial services to the masses and the new increase on cash holdings brought on by the pandemic.
Advisors and wealth managers can cast the net very wide these days to attract new clients and work, and it’s the advisors and companies who embrace regulatory and technological change who will succeed.
To see more about the Embark platform, you can visit their website here. To watch the whole recording, you can visit Embark’s Youtube channel here.
So, why should you choose Akoni to help you with your client’s cash decisions?
1) Safe and secure with FSCS protection
All deposits are held with each bank providing protection of up to £85,000 per bank, or up to £1 million for Temporary High balances.
2) Diversifying risk (spreading money across savings providers)
With the option to spread cash across several providers on the Akoni Cash Management Platform, you can diversify risk, and increase the chances of positive returns.
2) Increased returns & Better interest rates
In a climate of economic uncertainty, and with interest rates being cut across many providers, it’s not easy to find decent interest rates in a simple way. With Akoni, you can find competitive interest rates to suit your client’s specific needs.
4) Quicker, and hassle-free - no form filling
Akoni Hub provides a hassle-free cash management experience - your clients can onboard and open an account online with no fuss. Clients will only need to complete one AML/KYC process, can switch between providers, and manage their account on the Akoni Cash Management Platform in just a few clicks.
5) White label Adviser portal and tools
You have the flexibility to create a platform that works for you and your clients. Add your branding to showcase who you are through a sleek, professional cash management platform designed with you in mind.
Find out more about Akoni: Akoni is an award-winning UK cash platform, which provides a marketplace to financial advisors and wealth managers through a bespoke white-label offering, or off-the-shelf offering. Akoni uses innovative technology to personalise cash planning solutions for clients, and also provides a full API solution to banks and insurance clients.