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Hybrid wins at PIMFA FinTech Conference 2018

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Hybrid wins at PIMFA FinTech Conference 2018

PIMFA – the leading wealth management and financial advice association – held their annual FinTech Conference on Wednesday 12 September, hosted by BlackRock.

It began with a welcoming address from PIMFA CEO Liz Field who reinforced the importance of digital transformation in the evolution of the financial advice and wealth management profession.

Following this, Dr. Manuela Rabener, Chief Marketing Officer and Co-founder UK, Scalable Capital, took to the floor to discuss the opportunities for technology partnerships in the wealth management space and revealed that by 2021, approximately $1 trillion will be managed by Robo advice. She also highlighted the increasingly important role of social media for financial markets as a resource that can access huge amounts of data that can provide valuable consumer insights.

Dr Rabener concluded with a theme which would recur throughout the day – namely that, whilst investment managers will undoubtedly be affected by future advances in technology as an essential tool for helping to meet clients’ long-term needs, the Robo/Human hybrid “is a significant partnership for the future, both in terms of growth and risk management”.

Next was a topic which came top in a recent PIMFA membership poll –‘The Amazonisation of Wealth Management’ – the combining of digital channels and digital tools to build customer engagement . The panel, 11FS Global CEO David Brear and Peter van Kleef, Managing Director at Lakeview Capital, moderated by Amin Rajan, CEO Create-research, looked at other industries and their models, such as Amazon, as instructive inspiration for the wealth management and financial advice sector on revolutionising it to make it more accessible, convenient and empowering for consumers.

David Brear summed this up by stating that “a large-scale marriage of the digital delivery of human expertise in a superlatively one-to-one experience is a perfect example of what’s needed”.

Throughout the day, winners of the PIMFA Innovative Solutions Competition presented to the audience, beginning with a presentation from Envizage on their holistic advice engine which simulates ‘real-world’ risk, helping to answer the question “How likely am I to be able to do the things I want in the future?”, such as buying a house, affording to have children and planning for retirement.

Following that was Alexander Maresch (Global Head of Brand/Head of marketing, DWS Group), with a spirited presentation entitled “Go Digital or Go Home”, taking the audience through how social media, virtual reality and digital marketing can be used effectively to drive customer engagement and giving real-life case studies currently being used at DWS.

Following a networking break, Russ Kliman (Global Head, Strategic Programs & Innovation, SEI) discussed how a firm’s business strategy, rather than technology, should act as the driver for digital transformation across the entire value chain of what firms deliver every day. He further emphasised the importance of a digital mindset for firms in a world where digital drives brand awareness, disruptive technology is now mainstream, Artificial Intelligence-enabled tech now sits front and centre and data is the new precious commodity.

The next topic – Digital Transformation of Front to Back Office and Holistic Data Strategies – saw moderator Richard Maton (Partner, Aperio Strategy) introduce Mark John (Head of Product and Business Development for Pershing) and Stuart Rimell (Head of Desktop Development, IG) to discuss how buy-in from the C-Suite is essential to facilitate digital and technological transformation and that structural change of this type needs to be holistic in nature, requiring culture, business and technology to work together. Mark John also said that “in ten years’ time, 20% of the worlds’ energy use will be expended on data storage.

Vincent Molinari, CEO and Co-founder of Templum Markets, then joined us via video link to discuss the tokenization of the securities market from the US perspective and how Blockchain can transform the investor/adviser experience by providing transparency in areas such as execution, research and audit control. He cited examples such as the enabling of smaller investor to access the larger IPOs through the use of smart contracts and that fractionalised ownership of marquee real estate is now possible using this method. He also predicted that this activity would increase and that 2018 is the beginning of a bull market in security tokens.

The morning session ended with a fascinating ‘fireside chat’ between Greg Davies (Head of Behavioural Finance for Oxford Risk) and Max Mawby (Financial Behaviour, The Behavioural Insights Team) on the subject of the application of behavioural economics to deliver better financial behaviour in consumers.

Using the example of MiFID II rules requiring firms to contact their clients if their portfolio value drops by 10% or more, they highlighted that this may in fact create an opposite consumer reaction to the original intention of reassurance by causing some clients to panic. As a remedy, they suggested that trigger-point communications are sent earlier and at lower loss levels to deliver the desired outcome.

Greg voiced the feeling that ”The binary decision between Robo and Human is nonsense”, that “Robo is not Terminator, it’s Iron Man” and that we should use Robo to enhance Human, prompting the following comment from Conference Chair Lawrence Wintermeyer (Principal, Capstone); “How much human do you want with your financial advice?”

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RegTech 2020: Exploring financial crime and the emergence of RegTech in the USA

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RegTech 2020: Exploring financial crime and the emergence of RegTech in the USA 1

with host, Alex Ford, VP Product and Marketing, Encompass, and guests, Dr Henry Balani, Head of Delivery, Encompass; Pawneet Abramowski, Chief Compliance Officer

Today, financial institutions deal with increasingly complex transactions and regulations that are continually changing. For the financial services industry, the cost of regulatory obligations has dramatically increased in recent years and, as a result, there has been a strong demand for more efficient reporting and compliance systems to better control risks and reduce compliance costs.

The complexity of regulation has made it more difficult for compliance and legal teams to manage risk. Also, the rise in large monetary fines, the impact of reputational damage, personal liability and even prison sentences have all played a factor. However, it remains essential that RegTech and AI is not seen as the only answer to addressing all financial crime risk, but rather a tool that, if used properly, can create more efficiency in the management of money laundering, bribery, corruption and fraud.

This month’s insightful and thought-provoking RegTech 20:20 podcast, from Encompass Corporation, delves into these topics from a US perspective, as guests, Dr Henry Balani, Head of Delivery, Encompass, and Pawneet Abramowski, Chief Compliance Officer. Pawneet has more than 17 years of combined experience in both public and private sectors with a focus on compliance and Henry has experience supporting innovative technology solutions that address issues of financial crime and money laundering. He advises technology firms as a Non-Executive/Board Director.

Encompass Corporation aims to demystify RegTech for listeners and understand what practitioners and experts are doing to overcome organisational challenges. This time,

Pawneet discusses how the US is at the forefront of the utilisation of technology, while also reflecting on the long history of money laundering and financial crime there, saying that “the birth of RegTech in the last 5-7 years has been really prominent in the United States”.

Henry, having had more than 25 years’ of financial services industry experience, speaks about how so many transactions worldwide are cleared in a US bank and how the US dollar is a powerful weapon, especially when money laundering comes into play.

When asked about her thoughts on technology assistance, Pawneet suggests that organisations are having to continuously evolve their programme and controls, telling the audience: “I think that’s where this desire for having technology assist in making things more efficient and operationally effective”.

Henry gives listeners an insight into regulatory penalties being a driver in changing behaviour, suggesting that this type of enforcement is a successful method.

 “…as we see the increasing use of these penalties, organisations are noticing the reputational damage as embarrassing. We have seen a lot of these companies coming to RegTech firms asking for solutions to help them identify these potential challenges and issues”

Later on in the podcast, he goes on to speak about the challenges for regulated banks in the US. Breaking down the latest data and survey figures, Henry insists that the US has huge workforces in this organisation of growth. “To be a compliance professional, you are certainly in huge demand.”

Technology advancement is increasing at a rapid rate in the US. Regulated firms have a challenge not only to stay ahead of criminals, but there is often a rush to introduce new technology and continue to improve the experience of customers. Regulated bodies in the US, especially banks, have long been reinventing and adapting their compliance programmes to meet both their legal and community obligations and, as Pawneet explains, “it feels like a constant regulatory revolving door as a compliance professional”.

More expert commentary, RegTech conversation and industry insight can be found in the full episode of RegTech 20:20. You can listen here  https://www.encompasscorporation.com/regtech2020-podcast/, and across all major podcast players

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86% of UK businesses face barriers developing digital skills in procurement

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86% of UK businesses face barriers developing digital skills in procurement 2

A shortage of digitally savvy talent, and a lack of training for technical and soft skills, hinder digital procurement initiative

Research from Ivalua, a leading provider of global spend management cloud solutions, has shown that a majority of UK businesses (86%) face significant barriers developing digital skills in procurement. The findings reveal that a shortage of digitally savvy talent (31%), a lack of training for technical and soft skills (28%) and a lack of understanding of the skills required (13%), are some of the main barriers preventing UK business from developing the digital skills they need. Additionally, over half (55%) of UK businesses say that digital skills in procurement are less advanced compared to other departments

The research, conducted by Vanson Bourne on behalf of Ivalua, surveyed 200 UK-based procurement, supply chain and finance professionals about the true nature of digital skills within procurement, and the challenges businesses looking to digitally transform will face. More than eight-in-ten (84%) UK businesses believe that the skill set required of procurement professionals has shifted from procurement-first to digital-first. The study also highlighted that most respondents believe that greater digitalisation (84%) and better digital skills (83%) in procurement would have enabled UK businesses to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak more effectively.

“Over the last decade, the role of procurement has transformed from one of cost-cutter to a vital ally that can help inform and enable a business’s strategy. The global COVID-19 pandemic accelerated this trend even further, reinforcing the importance of procurement as businesses adapt to the new normal,” commented Alex Saric, smart procurement expert at Ivalua. “However, for too long, procurement has been seen as a digital laggard, with technology adoption trailing behind other departments. In order to keep its seat at the table in strategic discussions, procurement must ensure it has people with the right skills in-house, as well as easy to use technologies, or risk being unable to offer significant strategic value.”

Challenges in hiring digital skills in procurement

As part of ongoing digital transformation efforts in procurement, the report found that UK businesses have started to introduce new technologies such as data analytics (55%), cloud-based platforms (53%), automation (35%) and AI/machine learning (30%) in the last 12 months.

But when it comes to deploying these technologies, UK businesses are finding it difficult to complement them with the digital skills required. The study found that 88% find it challenging to hire the right digital skills to work with technologies such as AI, cloud-based platforms or data analytics, while 76% say they are concerned that existing procurement teams will struggle to work with new technologies. Developing digital skills is vital for businesses, as 91% of respondents say that improving digital skills can make procurement more strategic, while 94% say it will help them gain a competitive advantage.

“In a rapidly evolving business environment, digital skills are essential for procurement teams to analyse and mitigate risk, identify new opportunities and collaborate with suppliers. However, procurement teams are struggling to both attract digital talent and upskill existing teams, which puts them at risk of falling behind competitors, losing market share, and struggling to identify risk and opportunities ahead of time,” comments Saric.

“To address the digital skills gap in procurement, UK businesses need to ensure they are focusing on adopting tools that are easy to use and improve access to actionable insights. By making procurement smarter, businesses are giving teams the tools and skills needed to thrive in the new normal, allowing the business to react and proactively address the shifting sands of a post-COVID world.”

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The importance of app-based commerce to hospitality in the new normal

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The importance of app-based commerce to hospitality in the new normal 3

By Jeremy Nicholds CEO, Judopay

As society adapts to the rapidly changing “new normal” of working and socialising, many businesses are working tirelessly to ensure that they have all the necessary safety precautions in place to keep trading. One such sector is hospitality, but the way it typically operates now looks very different to what we were used to seeing prior to the pandemic.

Many pubs, restaurants and other hospitality establishments have now been open for a few months since lockdown, providing much relief and enjoyment to many consumers, as well as getting many employees back into work. However, a core component for businesses to maintain trading in these times is to ensure the crucial safety of staff and customers.

Payments are playing an important role in this and we’re seeing payment technology being implemented in new and unique ways to help make the hospitality sector as safe as possible. One such technology is app-based commerce, which allows businesses to interact with customers in ways that minimises physical contact whilst crucially still enabling engagement.

With table service now mandatory and Test and Trace measures continuing, we’re likely to see this technology being increasingly adopted in the months and years ahead. So, let’s take a look at what its use means for the hospitality industry and beyond and how it lines up with the government’s latest advice for businesses within the sector.

Understanding government guidance

Guidance issued from the UK government expands upon advice already offered by the Prime Minister to the hospitality sector, at the point of reopening back in July. It has been stated that all indoor hospitality is limited to table-service, interaction between staff and customers should be minimised as much as possible, masks are being enforced for indoor hospitality staff and the rule around groups of 6 continues.

At the same time, businesses now have a clear duty to support NHS Test and Trace by collecting names and contact details from customers so they can be reached if a customer/worker tests positive. This is a recent mandatory move having previously been guidance.

What’s more, it’s recognised that payments are a practical tool to help companies adhere to these guidelines. Throughout the pandemic it has emphasised that contactless payments are useful for reducing human interaction and touch points – such as PIN pads.

Early on, we saw the payment industry increase the authentication limit for contactless spending limit from £30 to £45 to help reduce cash purchases, cash machines and PIN pad usage. The Government are strongly encouraging the use of contactless payments in the hospitality sector, however, there’s a big part of the solution that they may have overlooked that can help hospitality businesses meet these guidelines with even greater ease – app-based commerce.

Why use apps?

Jeremy Nicholds

Jeremy Nicholds

Apps provide a whole host of benefits and are the perfect tool for not only minimising contact, but also ensuring customers are contactable at a later date, if needs be.

While contactless payments eliminate the need for customers to pay using cash, or touch PIN pads, apps can remove physical human interaction at the point of sale altogether. This is because they enable customers to pay ahead or at the table, meaning they don’t need to leave their seats or regularly interact with staff.  And done well they can even be a boost for business, enabling more convenient transactions and higher levels of repeat purchase.

When it comes to ensuring that customers are contactable, apps and e-wallets have a real advantage over traditional card-based transactions and anonymous cash payments. They allow companies to retain details about who has attended an establishment at a given time, enabling them to know whether a customer was present while a person known to be carrying the virus was in the vicinity.  The communication advantages of apps also allow establishments to manage their footfall and customer flow.

The role of app-based commerce in the new normal

Apps will become more and more important for all types of businesses, as consumers shift their behaviour towards digital.  They represent a new ‘real estate’ for retail and other businesses to manage – to present their brand in the right way, to engage customers and drive transactions.

Recently, we’ve seen Apple support this move towards app-based commerce with the launch of App Clips, further bolstering its use as we emerge from lockdown and encouraging safer and hygienic ways to pay.

App Clips are a great way for consumers to quickly access and experience what an app has to offer. They are fast and lightweight so a user can open them quickly and start and finish an experience from an app in seconds. And when they’re done, the business can offer the opportunity to download the full app from the App Store.

We are also seeing a number of hospitality businesses warming towards the use of app-based commerce and doing a great job of implementing it. The technology has already become central to the safe trading operations of big names in the industry such as Caffè Nero and The Young’s Pub, which are great examples of how to make apps work for your business.

As the industry steadily navigates its way through a new normal of operating, we expect that app-based commerce will skyrocket. In fact, we’ve already seen a great number of businesses throughout different industries expressing interest in the payment method, suggesting that it will play a pivotal role in moving forward. It certainly is a great way for businesses to keep staff and customers safe.

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