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Citi appoints Global Wealth Co-Heads in Asia Pacific

Fabio Fontainha

In late January 2021, Citi unveiled its new wealth management unit “Citi Global Wealth” – unifying the group’s Consumer Banking’s retail wealth management business and the Institutional Clients Group’s Citi Private Bank. Leading this newly formed unit is Citi veteran – Jim O’Donnell.

In line with the above announcement, Citi’s made key appointments in Asia’s wealth management franchise. Fabio Fontainha and Steven Lo have been named as Co-Heads for Citi Global Wealth in Asia Pacific. Fabio Fontainha and Steven Lo will directly report to Jim O’Donnell and Citi’s Asia-Pacific CEO Peter Babej. Further, Fabio Fontainha will also join Steven Lo on the Asia Pacific Operating Committee. Citi currently ranks as a top three wealth manager with approximately US$300 billion in assets under management (AUM).

In an internal memo, Peter Babej highlighted the bank’s vision for and commitment to the region. “The scale and growth prospects, driven by the emergence of a vast middle class and the rapid development of regional capital markets stands out for the Asian Wealth management sector”, noted Peter Babej. Further, he also added that the bank’s “industry-leading talent, distinctive global network and broad product platform, makes it well positioned for market leadership.” The group witnessed record net new money inflows of over US$20 billion across its regional franchise, spanning consumer banking wealth management as well as the private bank in 2020.

Steven Lo

As prime market for wealth management, Asia has been on Citi’s radar as the bank is focused on winning in wealth in the region. A testament to this is when Citi opened the largest wealth hub globally for Citi in Singapore last year. It also announced plans to double AUM by 2025 in the market and triple number of clients in the same period.

In the recent times a number of institutions have focused on growing or expanding to Asia-Pacific due to ideal market conditions, favourable demographics and various other factors. BCG’s Global Wealth Report 2020 highlights scenarios where Asia ex Japan Wealth is expected to grow from 5.1% to 7.4% under different recovery scenarios in the next 5 years – leading the growth trajectories for North America and Western Europe. In line with this, Asia is will be the fastest growing wealth region under all scenarios.

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>> Read more exclusive features about retail banking innovation and the digital banking landscape. Download the latest issue of The Digital Banker Magazine HERE.

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Age of the Digital Workplace: Why Standard Chartered is Prepared for this New Decade

Workplace transformation and evolution of workplace culture dominated conversations in the latter half of 2020. Greater use of digital technologies – right from note taking to automating processes, was achieved at faster pace than ever imagined. With widespread adoption of new working habits, organisations worked to support their employees to adapt to this new work style and also acknowledged the need to reskill and upskill a significant number of employees. With a noticeable shift in the workplace status quo, we interviewed Sham Arora, Global Head of Enterprise Technology, Standard Chartered to further understand how the bank is preparing to address challenges of the new decade and adapt to an ever-expanding digital landscape.

Workplace of the New Decade

Sham Arora: We know that work, now and in the future, is facing significant change, as are the expectations of our clients and colleagues. To work effectively in the new normal across the Technology function, we have set up the SmartForce Future Workplace programme to provide best practices, protocols, and standards for teams to work effectively.

During the pandemic we went from relatively low levels to 75% of our teams working from home in a few short weeks. We’ve learnt a huge amount from this – and it also proved we can effectively operate a global bank remotely. We are focused on how we organise ourselves, how we work, and how we drive an inclusive and innovative culture to equip us all to adapt.

We know how important flexibility and work/life balance is to our current – and future – colleagues. It is a core principle of our Fair Pay Charter and why we took a leading approach when we will be implementing our Flexible Working Standards across all our markets. But flexible working requires a change in how we do things, re-imagining how we deliver to clients, how we collaborate across multiple geographies, how we use the office or home space to bring our best and most productive selves to work.

Our Technology function is focused on how we can bring ideas from the whiteboard to our customers in the fastest time, from organisational design, to training and talent development, to building an engineering culture, to lean processes and delivery models.

Aiding Growth Across the Digital Spectrum

The Real Deal: A Digital Workplace

Sham Arora: The power of the digital workplace has never been clearer. Covid19 ‘forced’ us into a situation to adapt, and the result is massive adoption of digital capabilities both among our workforce and client base. During the pandemic, we enabled our 84,000 colleagues across 60 markets to work remotely, while continuing to provide uninterrupted service to our clients, and recording the fewest incidents in the past 5 years.

The organisation’s ability to adapt at pace showed that the future workplace is now, and it’s here to stay. That means long-term hybrid working options for our global teams, as well as our organisational structure, workplace design and digital workplace set up to enable flexibility and to promote new ways of working. The roll out of digital capabilities has clearly transformed our colleague experiences.

Booking a meeting room and taking notes, has become interactive two-way digital whiteboarding. Meeting our colleagues at the coffee counter is now getting together on our instant messaging or audio / video conferencing services. Connecting with a client is now a ‘face-to-face’ virtual meet, using our suite of video conferencing tools.

The Focus: Clients and Customers

Sham Arora: Clients have also demonstrated a strong demand for the convenience and availability of digital services during the pandemic. Across our markets, we saw a huge jump in digital sales for retail products at 68% compared to 28% a year ago and an exponential increase of over 300% in digital sales. This proves the increasing digital fluency of our employees and clients alike.

What’s more, we’ve also sped up delivery of our cloud-based solutions. The Bank’s applications and data are now accessible from any device – corporate or personal – through the roll out of a Bring Your Own Mobile Device platform, now available across our global markets.

The Critical Ingredient: Talent Pool

Sham Arora: Enabled by new capabilities, aXess Academy – our platform to upskill and reskill technologists – was scaled and globalised with innovative and experiential digital learning.

Learning participation increased by 223% covering 16,000+ participants from 32 locations, now connected via newly rolled out communications and collaboration tools.

The Future Lies in Automation

Sham Arora: We are transforming and re-engineering processes to create efficiencies that make things easier for our teams, whilst enhancing our client experience. Automation is fundamental in this journey; creating faster and more responsive technology products and services that meet our colleague and clients’ needs.

We’re adapting our structure and ways of working around clients and their needs. Our new ways of working are enabling colleagues to collaborate in multidisciplinary teams; thinking horizontally to deliver seamless client outcomes. They also allow us to build deep client insights and learn fast through rapid experimentation. Using the new ways of working, our retail bank in Singapore launched an improved personal loan product in 6 weeks instead of 6 months, packed with features in line with clients’ demands.

Employee Experience on par with Customer Experience

Sham Arora: I believe a great employee experience enables a great client experience.

We continue to invest in advanced digital capabilities and partner with leading edge industry players, to enhance mobility, teamwork, and innovation. As our employees embrace hybrid working, our focus is on making our technology capabilities available anytime, anywhere, anyhow. Whether in the office, on-the-go or in meeting a client, our employees will have optionality, the ability to virtually access Bank resources from any device, and to switch seamlessly between capabilities; from whiteboarding to virtual meetings, instant chat and more.

We also want to give our colleagues more choice around how, when and where they work. We formed a new partnership with International Workplace Group (or you may know them better as Regus) providing additional near-home/near-client workspace for all our people. This will enable our teams to work closer to clients, colleagues, and their teams, as well as reduce commuting time, travel costs and our individual and collective carbon footprint.
All this combined is about enabling our teams to collaborate digitally and to be more lean and agile, while meeting our sustainability goals.

The New Landscape in Private Wealth Management

The New Landscape in Private Wealth Management

Private wealth management has been undergoing a massive transformation. In large part, because of the rapid technological innovation that has been going for the past couple of years, but more significantly, as a result of the strict measures being implemented by various governments to combat the pandemic. In this insightful interview with Masroor Batin, CEO Wealth Management – Middle-East & Africa (MEA) at BNP Paribas Wealth Management, he spoke about the new landscape in private wealth management, the trends in inter-generational wealth transfer and the role of digital in investments and meeting client expectations.

Global Private Banker: How was 2020 as a year for BNP Paribas Wealth Management across MEA, and what are you hopeful for over 2021?

Masroor Batin, CEO Wealth Management - Middle-East & Africa (MEA) at BNP Paribas Wealth Management

Masroor Batin, CEO Wealth Management – Middle-East & Africa (MEA) at BNP Paribas Wealth Management

Masroor Batin: We will all remember 2020 as the year of Covid-19. The different waves of the pandemic and lockdowns resulted in the fastest and deepest recession on record. At BNP Paribas Wealth Management MEA, we adapted our platform in just a few days to allow remote working while continuing to serve our clients. We also enhanced our digital capabilities to better engage with our clients since we were no longer able to meet them in person. It was firm proof of our agility to adapt.

Apart from the pandemic, by all metrics, 2020 was a very strong year for BNP Paribas Wealth Management MEA. We grew our teams notably on the coverage side; we enhanced our new client-centric commercial organisation; our clients entrusted us with significant net new cash (+$1Bn vs. 2019) and we closed remarkable transactions. More importantly, we focused on being even closer to our clients so we could serve them even better during this turbulent time. Our recent awards including “Best Private Bank in the UAE” given by your magazine, as well as our client satisfaction surveys, are a strong testament to our commitment that drives us every day as a company.

In 2021, we will continue our efforts in this regard, and we will ensure that we closely accompany our clients in their investment decisions and in their ambitions. We are also cognisant of the global challenges we are facing such as transitioning towards a sustainable economy. Today BNP Paribas Wealth Management is a recognised leader in the field of sustainable investment solutions, and we aim to continue meeting this growing demand from our clients for responsible solutions.

Many experts predict that around $30Tr to $70Tr will be passed down from the Baby Boomer generation to the millennial market in the coming decades, calling this the “Great Wealth Transfer.”

Global Private Banker: How is your firm approaching generational wealth transfer to the millennial market?

Masroor Batin: Many experts predict that around $30Tr to $70Tr will be passed down from the Baby Boomer generation to the millennial market in the coming decades, calling this the “Great Wealth Transfer.” This is very likely to be the largest wealth transfer in history. Within the Middle East, most of our clients are preparing for this transfer and we are already  accompanying them with our award-winning Wealth Planning team. Within BNP Paribas Wealth Management, we also organise Next Generation Seminars, dedicated to children of UHNWIs, which educate this generation on all aspects of this wealth transfer including the necessity for long-term strategic planning.

Finally, we clearly see a great acceleration in the uptake of socially responsible investing across all demographics, and notably among millennials. According to our 2020 BNP Paribas Global Entrepreneur report, 70% of entrepreneurs globally are more willing to invest sustainably than 2 years ago. Millennial entrepreneurs have even stronger ambitions: they are willing to invest as much as a fifth of their investments responsibly by 2021. We have integrated sustainable criteria into our core offering and we will take into consideration our clients’ risk/return and sustainability profile when we propose the investment solutions that match their values and their ambitions.

Global Private Banker: What is your outlook on the impact of COVID-19 on the private wealth landscape over the next 12-24 months, and what critical measures has your business taken to navigate these waters?

Masroor Batin: First, our clients are asking for more advice. In a rapidly changing environment, which is by its nature unpredictable, providing our clients with regular (sometimes daily) market updates and with easy access to market experts, becomes essential. We believe that banks with strong global and local expertise and tailor-made capabilities will have a strong competitive edge in this context, which is most certainly the case for BNP Paribas. For example, we published our 2021 Investment themes, they are grouped by investment horizon, from short term to long term but also looking at key areas such as sustainability, and we believe that these themes will be key for driving our clients’ investment ambitions.

Second, clients are looking for diversification, both in their investments and for their wealth managers and they now favour international players with strong solvability and liquidity ratios. This is clearly a driver at BNP Paribas! Again, we have seen an increased interest in our firm due to its size, its diversified model and its solidity.

Finally, the digital journey has accelerated both internally and externally, and we have launched new ways of engaging with our clients and our teams.

I strongly believe the measures, which we have put in place during these exceptional circumstances, like today, won’t go away when the crisis ends. They will become our BAU.

Global Private Banker: What are some of the digital capabilities your firm is investing in, as a result of changing client expectations?

Masroor Batin: There is nothing new that clients expect innovation from their wealth manager, and we have been investing in our digital capabilities for many years. It is probably too early to say definitively how the past few months events will shift client expectations, but we believe that there will be a significant transformation, putting on banks a responsibility to accelerate the digitalisation of the client experience.

For example, while physical interactions have always been central in our relationships with our clients, clients are much more open to digital interactions with us. This is definitely the result of the months of lockdown situations and travel restrictions.

To answer these new expectations, we continue to enhance our client journeys, notably in the areas of advice, portfolio management and communication. We have been leveraging during the last years on digital to make the client experience smoother and more personalised.

We believe that banks with strong global and local expertise and tailor-made capabilities will have a strong competitive edge in this context, which is most certainly the case for BNP Paribas.

Global Private Banker: Which Wealth Management FinTechs have caught your eye of late?

Masroor Batin: Globally, we have partnered with top FinTechs in their respective fields of expertise, notably through our  digital factories in Europe and Asia. Recently, we partnered with Gambit, a Belgium FinTech active in robo-advisory technology, to build a digital investment mandate for some of our clients. To give you another example, we are also currently working with DreamQuark, a deep learning platform, which has been accelerated in our BNP Paribas Plug & Play accelerator program in Station F in Paris.

Global Private Banker: How does BNP Paribas Wealth Management in the Middle East differentiate in a highly competitive landscape, and what would you say is your unique value proposition?

Masroor Batin: Without any doubt, it is our One Bank integrated approach, which is at the heart of our value proposition. It allows our Wealth Management clients to benefit from the not only our expertise, but also from all the expertise within the BNP Paribas Group, which is truly unique in the banking industry. For example, our clients can benefit from our Real Estate business, Asset Management, Personal Investors, Securities Services, Islamic Finance and Insurance to name a few. And of course, there is our very unique international footprint.

We are “the bank for a changing world” and to be so, we must understand the world, its changes, opportunities and challenges. This is our uniqueness.

>> To read more about this story and other exclusive features about the private banking landscape, download the latest issue of Global Private Banker Magazine HERE.

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Image: Robson90 / Shutterstock.com

 

Is Fintech Eating Private Bankers’ Lunch

Is Fintech Eating Private Bankers’ Lunch?

As we enter the proverbial fourth industrial revolution, technologies such as artificial intelligence, the internet of things and big data continue to disrupt several sectors of the economy. Private banks are faced with the challenge of either keeping up with the pace of the revolution or losing their position as the leading wealth management institution for Ultra High Net Worth Individuals (UHNWI) and High Net Worth Individuals (HNWI).

Banks will have to restructure their infrastructure, workforce, and priorities to align with technological changes, and they would have to invest more into the security of data. Financial institutions must rethink the very definition of ‘client relationship’ and create new approaches to thrive in a constantly evolving environment.

However, in recent years, Challenger and Neobanks alike, with their mobile-first and cutting-edge digital infrastructure, have dominated the Fintech industry. They did this without having to put up physical branches, robo advisors or digital wealth managers. Their main plan has been to disrupt and redefine traditional banking while providing innovative wealth management services to underserved market segments.

While Neo and Challenger banks continue to chip away market share in the wealth management industry, lots of start-ups are beginning to gather momentum and successfully organise fundraisers in a bid to secure their place in this fast-growing industry. Neobanks such as Revolut, Chime, NubankMonzo, Starling and N26 have already become household names. Meanwhile, Rosecut, a UK fintech firm, offers digital wealth management solutions to affluent next-gen clients who has liquid wealth between £250,000 and £3 million.

“We are building the service of a private bank, with the cost-efficiency and scale of digital delivery,” Qiaojia Li, co-founder and CEO of Rosecut said in a statement.

The Digital Factor

Playing their fintech card really well, today’s neobanks are using digital strategies to their maximum advantage – and it seems to be paying off handsomely. Research reveals that the challenger and neo bank industry, which was valued at $20.4 billion in 2019, is projected to grow and reach $471.0 billion by 2027 at a CAGR of 48.1% from 2020 to 2027.

Obviously, the reduction in fees and service charges has made competition stiff, but this doesn’t automatically put traditional wealth management firms and private banks at a disadvantage as long as they can restructure to adapt to the changes and service offerings erupting in the industry. For example, established private banks are shoring up their digital capabilities to improve client experiences, one of them is for BNP Paribas Wealth Management.

Playing their fintech card really well, today’s neobanks are using digital strategies to their maximum advantage – and it seems to be paying off handsomely.

“There is nothing new in the fact that clients expect innovation from their wealth manager, and we have been investing in our digital capabilities for many years. It is probably too early to say definitively how the past few months’ events will shift client expectations, but we believe that there will be a significant transformation, putting on banks a responsibility to accelerate the digitalisation of the client experience,” says Masroor Batin, CEO Wealth Management – Middle-East & Africa (MEA) at BNP Paribas Wealth Management during an interview with Global Private Banker.

“While physical interactions have always been central in our relationships with our clients, clients are much more open to digital interactions with us. This is definitely the result of the months of lockdown situations and travel restrictions.

“To answer these new expectations, we continue to enhance our client journeys, notably in the areas of advice, portfolio management and communication. We have been leveraging during the last years on digital to make the client experience smoother and more personalised,” Mr Masroor Batin adds.

For other banks, the approach could be quite different. In 2016, investment giant Goldman Sachs launched  Marcus, their digital-only brand. Retaining the already reputable Goldman Sachs name, Marcus serves as an avenue for the company to diversify and delve into untapped markets. The company has also gone mainstream by introducing their mobile app, bringing their digital banking services to customers’ fingertips. In an update, Goldman Sachs said Marcus’ deposits reached $97 Billion as of end 2020 and is targeting at least $125 billion in deposits by 2024. Reports also have it that Goldman Sachs is considering acquisitions to bulk up its consumer banking unit Marcus.

Traditional institutions, indeed, appreciate the need to engage their prospects through the use of technology, but they still have lots of challenges to conquer. From constraints caused by legacy systems to issues surrounding usability and user experience, which results in low adoption rates, these traditional institutions face many drawbacks. And to top it all off, big tech is now poised to become big competition.

The reduction in fees and service charges has made competition stiff, but this doesn’t automatically put traditional wealth management firms and private banks at a disadvantage as long as they can adapt to the changes erupting in the industry.

The Big Tech Conundrum

In 2020, Capgemini’s World Wealth Report said that 93% of HNWIs in Asia Pacific ex-Japan are willing to entrust their wealth management needs into the hands of BigTechs like Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Google, Alibaba, or Tencent, should they decide to delve deeper into wealth management services.

HNWIs, millennials especially, are particularly more investment savvy than the older generations. They are always on the lookout for investment opportunities that generate higher interests. Due to the low-interest rate and high volatility of portfolio investments in recent times, investors are steadily gravitating away from portfolio investment towards investing in real companies. To survive these disruptions, banks have to strengthen their relationship with customers and review their offerings.

Strengthening their relationship with HNWI clients will set private banks on the right path to weather the storm of competition before them. New entrants in the financial industry such as Facebook, Google, and Amazon have e-money licenses, but they can be considered rookies in the financial sector. Nevertheless, these companies have access to big data concerning almost everyone’s habits on the internet, and they may leverage on this information to promote their business.

Private banks now face the enormous responsibility of taking advantage of Fintech to solidify their place as leaders in the financial services industry. As Fintech companies and already existing BigTech companies continue to disrupt the market, traditional banking institutions need to develop their technology for them to keep up with the competition.

Fintech also provides other new approaches to solidify the relationship between banks and their clients. The depth of the relationship between banks and their clients determines their competitive edge and chances of standing the test of the time in the wealth management industry.

>> To read more about this story and other exclusive features about the private banking landscape, download the latest issue of Global Private Banker Magazine HERE.

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Al Hilal Bank Leading the way through simplified banking

Al Hilal Bank: Leading the way through simplified banking

It is no easy feat to create a digital bank of the future able to meet exacting consumer demands while transforming its business processes. But this is exactly what Al Hilal Bank, an Islamic bank headquartered in Abu Dhabi, has been able to achieve through its philosophy of “simplified banking.” Offering Shari’ah-compliant retail banking, treasury and wealth management solutions across the United Arab Emirates, its strong focus on UAE nationals makes Al Hilal a trusted name in this region. Recently, Al Hilal introduced an innovative digital on-boarding experience through its mobile app, Ahlan – a first-of-its-kind app in Islamic Banking offering simplicity and convenience like no other.

Having been awarded Best Digital Account Opening, Middle East at the recent Global Retail Banking Innovation Awards 2020 (GRB Awards) by The Digital Banker further solidifies its stature as a bank that leads the way.

“Ahlan, Al Hilal Bank’s mobile banking app has redefined the concept of digital account opening by enabling new-to-bank (NTB) customers to open new savings account instantaneously with the bank in just 3 simple steps.  Ahlan not only reduced Al Hilal’s cost of new-to-bank acquisition but also helped transform its sales channels,” commented Nirav Patel, Managing Director at The Digital Banker during the awards presentation.

“With Ahlan, UAE residents can open a bank account instantly from anywhere without having to visit the branch or provide their documents offline for verification.”

Ahlan: Simplified banking for a digital world

Ahlan was created with a vision to redefine new-to-bank customer on-boarding experience. With Ahlan, UAE residents can open a bank account instantly from anywhere without having to visit the branch or provide their documents offline for verification. Through 3 simple steps of 1) providing personal information, 2) documents scanning and 3) delivery, customers can instantly open a savings account and start their banking journey with Al Hilal.

The process has been designed from the ground up with simplicity and intuitiveness to ensure that customers across all segments can use the app with ease. The most advanced technology has been deployed to ensure that minimum information is required to be manually fed by the customer as the app has been made capable to capture maximum information from the scanned documents using tools like MRZ scanner and visualiser.

Functionalities like API integration is used to ensure regulatory guidelines are adhered to, and the customer is acquired as per the Bank’s policies and guidelines. During the delivery of the debit card, the customer’s Emirates ID (a chip-enabled card provided by the government to every UAE resident), is checked through a tablet device, which is linked to the Emirates ID authority for real-time verification. Only upon the successful verification does the account gets activated.

Through its sheer simplicity and unquestionable value to customers, Ahlan has been a tremendous success receiving an overwhelmingly positive response so far, with over 80% of NTB customers currently on-boarded through this channel. In addition, with over 22% of customers sourced through Ahlan being UAE nationals, this channel has been proven to contribute significantly to the Bank’s business objectives. Also, over 75% of all accounts acquired through Ahlan are funded within the first 30 days.

Indeed, the concept of digital onboarding has redefined the acquisition business model of Al Hilal Bank. Judging from its recent slew of achievements, its vision to enhance the Ahlan app to cater to customers across its entire lifecycle – from childhood to retirement – is very much within reach.

>> To read more about this story and other exclusive features about the digital banking landscape, download the latest issue of The Digital Banker Magazine HERE.

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Image: Sophie James / Shutterstock.com

 

Finastra’s core banking platform, an accelerator of growth and innovation

Finastra’s core banking platform, an accelerator of growth and innovation

It has been several months into the Coronavirus outbreak, and the world is still reeling from its impact. Different institutions and sectors are feeling the impact in multiple ways, and the financial markets are no different. Financial institutions have had to adopt new processes to deliver their customer services and it looks like these processes will remain even after the pandemic has passed.

The world of consumer banking is currently undergoing a massive shift. Driven by the explosion of new technology, market changes and the far-reaching impact of the pandemic, retail banks are forced to compete in an environment with thin margins and tough regulations. As such, banks need to have an extremely agile and flexible platform that enables them to fend off competition and accelerate growth. Finastra’s Fusion Essence 2020 responds to all these market challenges. Partnering with Microsoft Azure for cloud enablement and Power BI for data analytics, this comprehensive solution helps banking institutions optimise cost, mitigate risk and continually meet the changing needs of customers.

Just recently, Finastra was awarded Winner, Best Core Banking Software Suite at the recent Global Retail Banking Innovation Awards 2020 (GRB Awards) by The Digital Banker.

“Finastra unlocks the potential of people and businesses in finance, creating a platform for open innovation. Fusion Essence 2020 is a next- generation core banking platform that forms the foundation for Finastra’s digital suite of applications. With all key banking services built-in, including mobile and internet-first digital access, the solution helps banking customers drive growth, innovation and security, making it an invaluable solution in today’s highly competitive environment,” said Nirav Patel, Managing Director at The Digital Banker during the awards presentation.

“Finastra unlocks the potential of people and businesses in finance, creating a platform for open innovation.”

Next-generation core banking platform

Fusion Essence 2020 is a next-generation core banking platform that forms the foundation for Finastra’s digital suite of applications. All the key banking services such as party, accounts, deposits, loans and payments are built-in, with a rich set of web services that boost business functionality. This translates to high levels of STP because the solution is delivered with pre-configured processes aligned to banking best practices. The solution also includes optional components such as Islamic banking, teller, and analytics using Microsoft’s Power BI.

Fusion Essence is an advanced core banking system that is digital to the core, customer-centric, and cloud-enabled for next-generation banking, covering retail and commercial banking whether conventional or Islamic.

  • Available with pre-integrated digital engagement capabilities for mobile, internet and branch to drive a superior frictionless and tailored customer experience to support banks’ go-to-market campaigns.
  • Seamless 24×7 capability removing the operational risk and cost of more legacy solutions.
  • Multi-entity, multi-currency, multi-lingual, multi-time zone, one central source of operation thereby reducing support and running costs.
  • Has inbuilt standard banking processes and workflows to streamline operations, increase STP and reduce the cost of ownership.
  • Includes a workbench and product launching capability; reducing time to market for new products by over 50% and putting the bank in control; avoiding increased vendor costs.

This next-generation banking platform has been recognised as a leader amongst retail banking solutions. “The Forrester Wave™: Digital Banking Processing Platforms Q3 2020” report illustrates that Finastra is leading the way by combining next-generation technologies with extensive business capabilities. It has also been recognised by Gartner in its Global Retail Core Banking Magic Quadrant saying, “No other core banking vendor has market-leading digital channels integrated with the core.”

“Fusion Essence is an advanced core banking system that is digital to the core, customer-centric, and cloud enabled for next generation banking, covering retail and commercial banking whether conventional or Islamic.”

Success with Digital Banks and Neobanks in Asia

Finastra’s Fusion Essence Cloud is revolutionising banking across Asia. TONIK, the first licensed digital-only bank in Southeast Asia, has selected Fusion Essence Cloud to power its end-to-end core banking capabilities. The move supports TONIK as it launches its retail deposit and customer loans services, giving it agility and the ability to scale quickly – and further revolutionise banking in the Philippines.

The key proposition for digital banks is providing a customer experience that traditional banks struggle to offer. This requires modern, cloud-native technology that facilitates innovation whilst future-proofing investment. Fusion Essence Cloud enables TONIK to benefit from a low cost of entry into the market, ease and speed of deployment, and the ability to increase business volumes and diversify its product set cost-effectively.

Greg Krasnov, Founder & CEO at TONIK, said, “The banking sector in the Philippines is ripe for digital disruption. The country has high internet usage, the majority of Filipinos are unbanked and research shows half of the people who do have bank accounts would be interested in switching to a neobank.”

On the other hand, Yoma Bank in Myanmar upgraded its Fusion Essence solution to enable them to leverage open APIs and collaborate with third parties, enhancing customer experience with a 7% increase in bank’s gross profit in one year. The suite of new digital banking offerings enabled Yoma Bank to reach out to more customers, increase its market share and make Yoma Bank a truly nationwide bank.

Other Fusion Essence users have also expanded their branch network, increased profit by business quarter, doubled transaction processing speed across all channels and reduced time taken to complete end-of-day processing.

>> To read more about this story and other exclusive features about the digital banking landscape, download the latest issue of The Digital Banker Magazine HERE.

Wave Money Advancing Greater Financial Inclusion in Myanmar

Wave Money: Advancing Greater Financial Inclusion in Myanmar

Covering more than 91% of the country, Wave Money is the largest mobile financial services provider in Myanmar. It has pioneered mobile financial technology in Myanmar and has played a pivotal role in the country’s digital transformation. The financial institution’s digital wallet, WavePay, is a super app that meets the lifestyle needs of digital natives in rapidly urbanising Myanmar while helping advance greater financial inclusion among the unbanked population in the countryside.

WavePay offers a convenient, secure, simple and reliable way to remit and receive money, pay utility bills and loans, top up mobile services, shop online as well as pay at physical checkout counters.

It is also the digital wallet of choice among government, non-government organisations, humanitarian agencies and cause-oriented groups in Myanmar.

Recognising this exceptional feat, Wave Money has been awarded Winner, Best Digital Wallet of the Year and Winner, Best Mobile Payments Service at the recent Global Retail Banking Innovation Awards 2020 (GRB Awards) by The Digital Banker.

“WavePay is a digital wallet that meets the lifestyle needs of digital natives in Myanmar. During this COVID-19 pandemic, through its “WavePay It Forward” campaign, Wave Money was able to help government, NGOs and humanitarian agencies securely mobilise and disburse emergency funds to vulnerable sectors. In 2020, Wave Money moved an equivalent of 11.5% of Myanmar’s GDP just on remittances, a true testament of the impact and the scale of its operations,” said Nirav Patel, Managing Director at The Digital Banker during the awards ceremony.

“With a vision to greater financial inclusion, Wave Money has brought the benefits of financial services to millions of Myanmar citizens who were previously unbanked and underserved.”

Helping vulnerable sectors through the “WavePay It Forward” campaign

Technology has helped transform many businesses and organisations. For Wave Money, technology can be a force for good. As part of its community outreach, it initiated the “WavePay It Forward” campaign, with the aim to help vulnerable sectors during the COVID-19 pandemic. Governmental organisations, humanitarian agencies and corporate entities have teamed up with Wave Money and leveraged WavePay to effectively deliver cash assistance for social security payments, loans for farmers, emergency funds for garment workers, and cash relief for street vendors. Wave Money has waived all service fees related to the disbursements of these funds.

“Digitally-delivered financial assistance is an efficient crisis response. It saves time and resources for development organisations and government. Wave Money’s support for a number of COVID-19 humanitarian programmes and our own ‘WavePay It Forward’ fund-raising is in line with our mission to create a fairer future for Myanmar through financial inclusion. More importantly, it is in line with what every one of us believes — that technology is a force for good. “ said Brad Jones, CEO of Wave Money. Myanmar’s Social Security Board, the Myanmar Agricultural Development Bank (MADB), the Myan Ku Fund project of the European Union, multi-sector fund-raising campaign “I Do Nation”, and Free Cash Program for the Needy (FCPN) project are among those that used WavePay free-of-charge. In parallel, Wave Money has also run a public donation platform through WavePay to raise funds for Myanmar’s National Level Central Committee on Prevention, Control and Treatment of COVID-19. Also, Wave Money successfully launched the campaign #StayStrongMyanmar which consolidates all active programmes and community support for sectors adversely affected by COVID-19 and their digital platform, as the trusted channel for COVID-19 relief government and NGOs fund disbursements, was responsible for channelling direct subsidies to 300,000 beneficiaries. In total, the 2020 transactions channelled through the donation and disbursement channels to those severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic reached 32 billion kyat (US$ 24 million).

“In 2020 alone, Wave Money moved a total of 12 trillion Myanmar kyat (US$ 8.7 Billion) in remittances which is equivalent to about 11.5% of Myanmar’s gross domestic product (GDP).”

Using WavePay, millions were able to transfer money and make daily payments and financial transactions in the comfort and safety of their own homes. Wave Money has processed more than US$ 24 Million in disbursements and emergency relief to at-risk sectors since the first wave of COVID-19 hit Myanmar.

Greater financial inclusion benefits millions of Myanmar citizens

With a vision to greater financial inclusion, Wave Money has brought the benefits of financial services to millions of Myanmar citizens who were previously unbanked and underserved. For example, in 2015, less than 20% of the population had access to formal financial services. Since then, this number has grown by leaps and bounds.

In 2020 alone, Wave Money moved a total of 12 trillion Myanmar kyat (US$ 8.7 Billion) in remittances which is equivalent to about 11.5% of Myanmar’s gross domestic product (GDP).

During the same period, total disbursements from government, humanitarian and non-government sectors also grew to more than 32 Billion Myanmar kyat (US$ 24 Million).

From mobilising and disbursing funds for COVID-19 relief to sustaining lives and livelihoods through trustworthy money transfer and electronic payment, indeed, Wave Money is a testament to the far-reaching social impact of fintech.

>> To read more about this story and other exclusive features about the digital banking landscape, download the latest issue of The Digital Banker Magazine HERE.

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Image: MICKIE.K / Shutterstock.com

HSBC Malaysia Eliminating Friction in Foreign Currency Transfers

HSBC Malaysia: Eliminating Friction in Foreign Currency Transfers

HSBC is one of the largest and most recognisable banking institutions in the world, with operations in 64 countries and territories and millions of customers across its businesses. Leveraging on the strength of its global footprint, HSBC Malaysia is pushing the boundaries of innovation to deliver maximum customer convenience. Its 24/7 Foreign Currency Transfers with real-time foreign currency conversion, allows customers to link HSBC accounts in multiple countries and transact within a single online banking experience. By transcending the limits of geographical borders and location, the team had been able to provide seamless online channel capabilities, helping HSBC Malaysia reach out to local and international customers at a scale never been achieved before.

Having been bestowed the award, Winner, Best Frictionless Customer Relationship Management at the recent Global Retail Banking Innovation Awards 2020 (GRB Awards) by The Digital Banker only proves that HSBC Malaysia is relentless when it comes to providing the best experience for its customers.

“The 24/7 foreign currency conversion service helps customers save more as they can buy and sell currencies at favourable rates, anytime.”

“HSBC Malaysia’s passion to meet the increasing demands of its customers is truly admirable. Through GVGT, the team had been able to remove customer’s restriction on a fixed transaction schedule by empowering customers to conduct a global transfer from anywhere in the world, 24/7. This initiative is a significant step towards achieving the Bank’s goal if making banking cost-effective and personalised for its customers,” said Nirav Patel, Managing Director at The Digital Banker during the awards ceremony.

Faster transfers. Seamless experience.

HSBC Malaysia’s 24/7 Foreign Currency Transfers with Real-Time Foreign Currency Conversion leverages on the strength of HSBC’s established experience and ubiquitous presence in all corners of the world. The 24/7 foreign currency conversion service helps customers save more as they can buy and sell currencies at favourable rates, anytime.

With Global View Global Transfer (GVGT), customers with HSBC accounts in multiple countries or territories can easily link their accounts and transfer funds between these accounts. As a result, it enables customers to have a single view of all their Global HSBC accounts. Once customers have linked their accounts together, they would be able to conduct instant Global Transfer, seamlessly. They can also set up future or recurring transfers to manage future transactions.

“With GVGT, customers with HSBC accounts in multiple countries or territories can link their accounts and transfer funds between these accounts.”

On top of this great initiative, HSBC Malaysia has also launched Global Transfer Friends and Family (GTFF) where customers can make instant transfers to friends and family with HSBC accounts. Some of the most notable features of GTFF include:

  • Ability to perform instant transfers to 22 sites
  • Exclusively available to Premier and Advance customers
  • Instant transfer to overseas HSBC third party personal accounts and;
  • Waiver of fees waived for Premier customers
  • Global Transfer fee is also waived for Advance customers effective 7 Dec 2020
  • HSBC Malaysia customers will be able to receive instant fund transfer from other GTFF enabled sites (Hong Kong, Singapore, Vietnam

The successful rollout and implementation of HSBC Malaysia’s full suite of cutting-edge Global Transfer capabilities make it a top contender for customer experience leadership. The real-time foreign currency conversion with the ability to hyper-personalise foreign exchange rates down to customer-level is a clever manoeuvre to reward the Bank’s most loyal customers. From a business point, the upside is equally impressive with foreign exchange contribution increasing by 28% compared to the previous year (2019). There has also been a notable increase in Global accounts opening across key markets such as Australia, Canada, China, France, Greece, Hong Kong, India, UK and USA.

>> To read more about this story and other exclusive features about the digital banking landscape, download the latest issue of The Digital Banker Magazine HERE.

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Image: Abdul malik bin madrasah / Shutterstock.com

Standard Chartered Malaysia Offering smart wealth solutions to build sustainable trust

Standard Chartered Malaysia: Offering smart wealth solutions to build sustainable trust

For a number of years now, Standard Chartered Wealth Management in Malaysia has been investing in areas that matter deeply to its customers. Understanding that every client is unique, it aims to make quality advisory accessible to its clients. Its value proposition is based around what StanChart calls the SMART Wealth Management framework. The SMART framework focuses on areas which include Solutions, Market insights, Advisory, Relationship management and Technology to help StanChart gain a good understanding of what its clients want and how to help them achieve their financial goals.

This laudable strategy did not go unnoticed and just recently, Standard Chartered Wealth Malaysia has been conferred the award Winner, Best Mass Affluent Banking Offering at the Global Retail Banking Innovation Awards 2020 (GRB Awards) by The Digital Banker.

“The SMART Wealth Management framework by Standard Chartered Bank is truly world-class. Through this framework, clients benefit from personalised and comprehensive advisory services delivered by a team of expert. In addition, they also enjoy transactional convenience offered via digital and remote transactional capabilities. By leveraging on technology, the bank has been able to deploy a robust digital investment platform, making StanChart Wealth Malaysia a trusted advisor to its clients nurturing a sustainable relationship with its clients,” said Nirav Patel, Managing Director at The Digital Banker during the awards virtual gala.

The SMART Framework

At the heart of StanChart’s SMART framework is the bank’s expertise in offering personalised investment advisory services to its clients across the footprint. As the industry shifts towards a more personalised approach to advisory services, the Bank’s relationship managers are being supported by a panel of internal wealth management specialists able to provide bespoke solutions that are further optimised by technology.

The Bank’s investment philosophy starts with the idea that diversity of perspectives, views and decision-makers are crucial when it comes to countering many of the decision-making biases all investors face. StanChart gathers as many views as possible from leading investment banks, independent research houses, central banks, asset managers and international organisations such as the IMF, World Bank and Bank of International Settlements before arriving at a particular conclusion or recommendation.

“At the heart of StanChart’s SMART framework is the bank’s expertise in offering personalised investment advisory services to its clients across the footprint.”

The team uses deep research and data analytics to perform adequate market and product due diligence. This is supplemented by products that are responsive to the peculiar needs of the market. For example, StanChart’s Asset Transfer programme is a solution that lets clients pool their investments under one roof, enabling them to get a 360⁰ view of their holdings. This product caters to the need for account aggregation services where one-stop shop for wealth management is in high demand.

StanChart’s SMART framework is further fortified by the bank’s strength in its technological capabilities.

StanChart, of late, has been investing heavily in digital capabilities offering its clients seamless access to their investments and other holdings with the bank.

One such example is StanChart’s SmartGoals, a digital investment platform that allows clients to take up investment products for as low as RM400, without the need to physically visit a bank branch. This first-of-its-kind platform is available through both the SC Mobile smartphone app and Standard Chartered online banking website.

Instead of trading investment products, the idea behind SmartGoals is to get people to think about their financial goals and then help them craft a path towards achieving them. As the platform is intelligent enough to understand the client’s risk tolerance and return preferences, it can offer a diversified portfolio of mutual funds tailored to those preferences.

For clients who favour access to more DIY options and prefer to trade within their own portfolios, StanChart has also recently launched its SmartDirect platform which offers one-touch access to more than 200 mutual funds available in as many as 5 different currencies. The bank is also committed to fulfilling the foreign currency needs of its clients and to that end has also recently launched LiveFX, a client-facing FX trading platform.

Lastly, in addition to its transactional capabilities, SC Wealth Malaysia has been one of the first banks in Malaysia to leverage on video conferencing capabilities within the government-imposed lockdown period, allowing them to reach out to clients without the need for physical interaction.

This, combined with its breadth of digital capabilities, has allowed  SC Wealth Malaysia to reach out to clients and continue servicing them throughout the turbulent times arising from the global Covid-19 pandemic.

“The idea behind SmartGoals is to get people to think about their financial goals and then help them craft a path towards achieving them.”

Personal, effortless, and safe

By truly understanding clients’ needs – even in times of crisis – StanChart has been able to respond with initiatives that make wealth management easier for its clients. The SMART Wealth Management framework has benefited clients through:

  • Personalised and comprehensive advice -clients get personalised services from their Relationship Managers who are supported by a team of wealth specialists that help clients create short and long-term financial strategies suitable for their needs or preferences.
  • Technology – cutting-edge platforms such as SmartGoals, SmartDirect, and LiveFX enable clients to seamlessly act on StanChart’s expert investment advisory capabilities.
  • Safety and convenience – both digital and remote transactional capabilities have enabled clients to access wealth management offerings from anywhere, anytime at the comfort of their own homes especially during the COVID-19 restricted movement period.

>> To read more about this story and other exclusive features about the digital banking landscape, download the latest issue of The Digital Banker Magazine HERE.

Taipei Fubon Bank Optimising Wealth Management Through Data Analytics

Taipei Fubon Bank: Optimising Wealth Management Through Data Analytics

The dramatic growth of the fintech sector has been on full display over the past couple of years. Industry estimates put the global fintech market to grow at a CAGR of around 20% between 2020 and 2025. This dramatic improvement in fintech innovations has been embraced by Taipei Fubon Bank, making it an important pillar in its growth strategy. Currently, Bank has 4.60 million regular account holders and more than 400,000 wealth management customers with access to over 700 financial consultants. To effectively manage its different wealth management segments, Taipei Fubon Bank turned data analytics to streamline the data search process and optimise its decision making to a level where it can bring the greatest impact.

It is only fitting that Taipei Fubon Bank has been awarded Winner, Best Data Analytics Initiative at the recent Global Retail Banking Innovation Awards 2020 (GRB Awards) by The Digital Banker.

“Taipei Fubon Bank continues to promote and apply cutting edge technologies to product management, client journey monitoring, client relationship management, and the tracking of client spending patterns. Its accomplishments in data analytics are truly one of a kind. Digital innovation is clearly embedded in Fubon’s corporate DNA,” said Nirav Patel, Managing Director at The Digital Banker during the awards presentation.

Strengthening performance and customer stickiness

Fubon ventured to create a dynamic online sales support system and management dashboard called “Dynamic Minority Report – Sales Dashboard”, that provides tools needed to manage financial consultants and optimise the wealth management client base. It compiles massive amounts of Bank data into an interactive data visualisation interface that gives managers at all levels the information they need through a company computer – and even a mobile phone – to quickly set strategies and manage their businesses, anytime, anywhere.

Working with the help of customer relationship, product and channel department resources, the team came up with a system that provides interactive indicators to eliminate blind spots in managing performance. A mobile phone version of the performance monitoring system has been developed for managers to stay on top of branch activity. Ultimately, the weekly and monthly business review meetings of the past have been streamlined into daily or real-time checks of information on client journeys in different dimensions.

The Dynamic Minority Report – Sales Dashboard system also enabled users to set different levels of authorisation, so that managers at varying levels of the organisation can get access to specific ranges of information they need to manage and adjust their strategies accordingly. This 360° interactive model for sharing information contributed to Taipei Fubon Bank’s growth in assets under management, loans under management, total revenue and the number of high-net-worth clients in the first half of 2020 despite the challenges brought about by COVID-19.

“The dramatic improvement in fintech innovations has been embraced by Taipei Fubon Bank, making it an important pillar in its growth strategy.”

Sterling results

The results are nothing less than stellar. The real-time monitoring capability of the online sales support dashboard made it possible to observe changes in how financial consultants manage their client relationships and strengthen performance and customer stickiness. After the system was introduced in the early part of 2020, the Bank experienced significant growth in 1H 2020 in the following areas (YOY):

  • Assets Under Management: Up 8.9 per cent
  • Loans Under Management: Up 7.6 per cent
  • Total Revenue: Up 2.9 per cent
  • Number of High Net Worth Clients: Up 5.8 per cent

As results and performance can be observed in real-time through the dashboard, if any data point trends lower, the online sales support system reacts immediately, triggering an actionable response. In addition, the information in different dimensions can be called up at any time, dramatically reducing the time needed to check information and generate statements, resulting in much more robust decision-making capabilities.

“As results and performance can be observed in real-time through the dashboard, if any data point trends lower, the online sales support system reacts immediately, triggering an actionable response.”

This phenomenal outcome only strengthens the fact that the role of data is changing in the era of big data and digitisation. Once used in a supporting role to review or check operating results, data has now become an integral part of the decision-making process. Taipei Fubon Bank’s Dynamic Minority Report – Sales Dashboard helped generate valuable real-time data in Taiwan’s financial services sector and empowered managers to develop data-driven wealth management business models.

>> To read more about this story and other exclusive features about the digital banking landscape, download the latest issue of The Digital Banker Magazine HERE.