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Brave new world: how 6 wealth firms have embraced technology

In this increasingly digital age, we asked wealth managers what investments they have been making in their business.

James Penny, investment analyst, TAM Asset Management, London

'Forget silicon valley. TAM Asset Management’s approach to 2015 has been one of tech innovation. We continue to add advancements in consumer delivery through web and app technology leaving clients fully informed.

‘Much of this year has seen us enhancing our online interaction with clients, from trade information to comprehensive performance and fee analysis. We have continued developing an online solution that has led to clients being able to answer much of their own investment questions without us having to pen formal responses. The bonus is that face to face adviser reviews have become more productive.

‘Our new ultra-low touch auto enrolment investment solution has finally become a reality, enabling companies of any size to rapidly set up automated, bespoke investment portfolios for their pension schemes while giving each employee full access into our interactive online service. With the Industry now turning to robo advice, TAM’s latest technology architecture is almost the complete solution already.’

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James Penny, investment analyst, TAM Asset Management, London

'Forget silicon valley. TAM Asset Management’s approach to 2015 has been one of tech innovation. We continue to add advancements in consumer delivery through web and app technology leaving clients fully informed.

‘Much of this year has seen us enhancing our online interaction with clients, from trade information to comprehensive performance and fee analysis. We have continued developing an online solution that has led to clients being able to answer much of their own investment questions without us having to pen formal responses. The bonus is that face to face adviser reviews have become more productive.

‘Our new ultra-low touch auto enrolment investment solution has finally become a reality, enabling companies of any size to rapidly set up automated, bespoke investment portfolios for their pension schemes while giving each employee full access into our interactive online service. With the Industry now turning to robo advice, TAM’s latest technology architecture is almost the complete solution already.’

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Ian Woolley, investment analyst, Hawksmoor Investment Management, Exeter

‘Hawksmoor has built its own custom-made database system, fondly known as “The HIMBook”. Its uses are vast. For example, the HIMBook knows each client’s objective and current holdings, and so can check portfolios for suitability in terms of asset allocation, diversification, risk exposures, etc.

‘Routine tasks such as checking accounts have enough cash to cover upcoming payments, or that ISA accounts have all been subscribed, can be performed in a matter of seconds. This does not replace the need for an investment manager, but rather gives him/her better tools to identify problem areas quicker.

‘The HIMBook is used across the firm to automate regular tasks, monitor asset flows, calculate performance, display client details, or that of our buy list funds, and much more. It is important to not be overly-reliant on Excel: it’s great as a spreadsheet, but terrible as a database. The HIMBook ensures our systems are robust, scalable, and customisable to our evolving needs.’

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David Scott, investment manager, Andrews Gwynne, Leeds

‘In an increasingly IT-dependent and data-heavy world where clients expect to be able to connect with you using various forms of technology, up to date IT provision and processing power are essential for a successful and expanding firm. While mindful of this, and seeking to grow our business in this ever evolving digital era, we at Andrews Gwynne have undertaken a major rebranding exercise over the last year.

‘AG has established a rich heritage over the last 35 years with some very high profile clients. However, in order to continue to service our national client base with a highly bespoke service, investment in technology has been paramount.

'Over the past 12 months we have invested heavily in our new brand and built a completely new and unique website, which we believe sets us apart from the rest of the financial services industry. Via this new website, and the key to moving the business forward, is our new Clienthub, which provides clients with a real time overview of all of their finances in one place. This is an invaluable facility since it enables us to be able to demonstrate to the regulators that we know our clients, but that this can be done with minimal and much less intrusive paperwork, which can only be beneficial for all concerned.’

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Colin McInnes, managing partner, Quartet Investment Managers, London

‘We have implemented a new front-end client reporting suite including hard copy and online and are currently rolling this out to tablets and smartphones. This reporting software was fully customised to our requirements and integrates via a virtual private network allowing connectivity to multiple custodians, giving us greater control over reporting.

'The next stage in this development, which should happen towards the end of the year, is increasing the client engagement with the reporting allowing each client access to choose what they see and how they see it.

‘Secondly, we are in the process of moving our data storage from an in-house server to the cloud. With our portfolio management software and client relationship management already being cloud based, our office will be able to be run from anywhere with an internet connection.’

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Magnus Wheatley, managing director, Charles Stanley Direct, London

‘Our focus for Charles Stanley Direct has been in streamlining back-office processes throughout 2015 with a focus on improving the customer on-boarding experience. We now have a mantra of “starting with the client and working backwards” and all our efforts are driven by listening to the customer and improving their experience with us.

'The most recent has been the launch of our straight-through SIPP process in August and dramatically improving the per-page performance of our website through a significant upgrade of our brochureware. Our plans for the future include a completely new, mobile optimised front-end plus a mobile trading app for logged-in clients and we are looking at a significant upgrade to our registration process in conjunction with the mobile optimisation to create a smoother journey.

'Very shortly we will putting live enhanced security arrangements with location and device logging including client notification of unknown log-ins plus a complete re-design of our news pages, email marketing, fund pages and market data pages.

'We will also be launching our Apple Watch App as soon as WatchOS2 is released and integrating our marketing systems closely with the Group-wide WDX implementation to provide much clearer management information on our growing client base.’

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Gavin Haynes, managing director, Whitechurch Securities Wealth Managers, Bristol

'Over the past twelve months we have made a number of improvements in technology that enhance the wealth management services we provide to advisers and their clients. Earlier this year we relaunched our mobile friendly website for advisers and their clients. It is amazing how many companies website is not friendly to Mobile devices and tablets.

'In tandem with this we have upgraded our online valuations system which provides graphical breakdowns of portfolios and up to date values. Clients expect to receive informative daily updates on their portfolio.

'To make advisers lives easier we have also enhanced an application which allows them to generate an up to date client report online when recommending a Whitechurch portfolio. Behind the scenes, next week we will complete CREST membership which will automate settlements and make trading much more efficient for clients.'

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