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Julius Baer On How Tech Changes Role Of Wealth Advisors

Tom Burroughes, Group Editor , 7 October 2019


As part of an interview series, this news service talks to the Swiss bank about its view on how technology affects how advisors work.

This publication is looking at how new technologies change the role of wealth managers and whether these innovations have been over-hyped or misunderstood. As part of this series, we interviewed Nic Dreckmann, who is the chief operating office at Julius Baer, the Swiss private banking group. As it is Switzerland’s third-largest bank, with a significant presence in continental Europe, the UK and Asia, it brings considerable weight to this topic. 

In your view, and from the view of your organisation, how do you see technology changing the role of wealth management advisors? Can you give some specific, real-life examples?
There is no doubt that advisors will be augmented through technology. Previously, RMs supervised all client portfolios manually. Today, we have sophisticated solutions that check portfolios overnight to ensure they are still in line with client requirements and/or if there are interesting investment opportunities to be had. 

So far, the effect has been very positive. Our advisors spend less time with analytics and more time with clients. Furthermore, our advisors are supported with various process-embedded checks - be it in the context of suitability, eligibility or cross-border - helping to fulfil regulatory requirements.

Of all the changes wrought by tech, in your opinion, what has been the most significant change in how advisors work? Conversely, what do think has been the most over-hyped change from technology? 
The automated health checks of client portfolios, as well as regulatory automation has changed the way advisors work and how many clients an advisor can service. 

The second part is a bit more difficult to answer. Over hyped has a time nexus. AI might be over hyped in the short-term but underestimated in the long-term. The same applies for blockchain technology. 

When a person is thinking of working for a new firm, changing jobs or going for promotion, do you think they increasingly want to know what sort of tools they have at their disposal so that they can hit targets and be more effective? Are the tech tools that firms provide now an important part of the overall jobs package and HR conversation?
Indeed, the tools a firm provides are becoming more and more important in the decision-making process. Having a solid internal infrastructure is important and its absence might weight negatively, as passionate advisors looking for the best solutions for their clients are becoming more and more tech-savvy and demanding - less in terms of system architecture or design but with regards to capabilities offered. Ultimately, these systems will not only help us to become the trusted augmented advisor to our clients – but enable us to train our existing employees too. 

What level of training should advisors expect to go in for today when using technology as part of their job? How much should they do on their own initiative and what should firms provide? 
It is vital that advisors are trained in the proper processes and systems to provide better client service and efficiency. Training should be blended between classroom, self-study and online tutorial - in some instances, brought to life with gamification.  

Given the rising relevance of technologies such as AI and blockchain, there is also a need to educate advisors on these key technologies and provide basic training. 

At Julius Baer, we run lunchtime sessions - mainly run by colleagues who have subject matter expertise - to provide further insight into these areas. If an advisor would like to go into further detail, we look into development training judged on a case-by-case basis. 

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