Industry leaders and academics give their insights on innovation shaking up financial services

The Wealth Management Association (WMA) hosted its inaugural Fintech conference at KPMG's headquarters at Canary Wharf.

In attendance were delegates from a range of wealth management firms, as well as experts on the latest technology innovations such as blockchain and robo-advice. The WMA is the leading industry body for the private client investment community, representing members who manage in excess of £734 billion of UK wealth.

The event commenced with an overview of the impact of Fintech so far, delivered by Global Co-Head of Fintech at KMPG, Warren Mead. He explained how wealth managers and other financial institutions are now competing against the likes of Apple, Amazon and Alibaba, rather than just their traditional rival companies.

Warren Mead, Global Co-lead Fintech, KPMG says: "Wealth Managers need to reassess who their competitors are – Silicon Valley is coming for them. Some tech companies want to collaborate with established firms but others want to steal their lunch.
“In the long term, the industry needs to make itself more relevant to people's everyday lives. Looking a decade ahead there's a real risk that traditional financial services could be completely invisible to consumers. Take Apple Pay, for instance: many people associate it with Apple and totally forget about the bank that sits in the middle.”

Alderman Professor, Michael Mainelli, FCCA FCSI FBCS, Executive Chairman & Renowned Independent Expert on Blockchain, discussed the impact of mutual distributed ledgers on the wealth management industry in general and on securities in particular.

Michael Mainelli commented: “Blockchain is over twenty years old, but it has risen to prominence in financial services due to BitCoin. A lot of people in finance like to think they are ahead when it comes to technology, but the reality is that they are behind. The benefits of a blockchain ledger is that it is unable to be changed, and that it is mutually owned.
“Blockchain is not a silver bullet: it will not save industries that are struggling to adapt to technology. The industry needs to have the willpower to change.”

The topic of robo advisors was discussed on a panel which consisted of Pete Connell, Managing Director of Wealth Wizard, Dr Joseph Hine, Strategic Adviser of Crealogix and Giovanni Dapra, Co-founder & Chief Executive of Moneyfarm.
Pete Connell, Managing Director of Wealth Wizard, comments: “Robo advice comes down to choice. Choice as a consumer, as a wealth manager and additional choice of players who are entering the market. Wealth Managers have three options: they can create, buy or rent Fintech technology. Buying Fintech companies to incorporate technology is popular, but wealth managers have be careful they do not quash the culture of innovation.”

Dr Joseph Hine, Strategic Adviser of Crealogix, comments: “Innovation from within, as a business model is a challenge; as it is not common for innovators to understand the day to day reality and legal frame
work of financial services and vice-versa.”

For the conference the WMA also hosted five Fintech companies – Delio Wealth, Novastone, BondIT, Robur and StockViews – who won competition held by WMA to showcase digital innovations and discuss the role these companies are playing in shaping the wealth management industry.

WMA Chief Executive, Liz Field comments: “Technology is one of the biggest things keeping wealth managers up at night, so it was important to dedicate a day to Fintech to shed light on the digital innovations which are changing the sector. We had a host of esteemed speakers who talked us through the impact of digital evolution for our sector and it is clear this will be an important ongoing debate.”

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