Mastering a fine balance in 2017: costs, complexity and customer centricity

Another year has begun. What an eventful year 2016 has been, sending shock waves down the socioeconomic landscape across several countries.

Mastering a fine balance in 2017: costs, complexity and customer centricity

Another year has begun. What an eventful year 2016 has been, sending shock waves down the socioeconomic landscape across several countries.

The private banking industry, globally, seems to be going through a renaissance. There continue to be big shifts to adjust to. Regulation and compliance demands are continually growing, putting banks’ profitability under the spotlight and driving industry consolidation.

Unorthodox strategies are coming into play and competition is appearing from non-traditional quarters. The private banking industry is still on its way to reinventing business models. While ensuring client centricity and critical value, achieving cost efficiencies is crucial. Technology is becoming a strategic cornerstone and many private banking players are undergoing digital overhauls.

The rulebook for wealth management is rapidly changing also due to massive shifts in customer behaviour. Wealthy clients’ investment appetites and needs are fast evolving. For private banks, this provides opportunities as well as challenges. It is also more important than ever before for private banks to give their advisors the right tools to enhance their potential and productivity.

It has been a big year focused on political events such as Brexit and the US presidential elections, the ramifications of which will be felt for several years to come. The year 2017 will be crucial in terms of getting more clarity on the realities of policies and decisions. Private banks need to gauge what lies ahead and how best they can protect the interests of their clients.  

For private banks and wealth managers, 2016 has further highlighted the importance of compliance and conduct risk, with scandals such as the 1MDB threatening to tarnish the reputation of even the most regulated wealth hubs such as Singapore. It is essential for private banks to devise a roadmap for the future to ensure lasting success and lessen ongoing reputational damages.

The outlook for 2017 is optimistic on the whole and wealth managers seem prepared for the brave new world we are entering. The New Year should, ideally, see lowering cost-income ratios, increasing profit margins, clear operational strategies and more innovative partnerships to propel new ideas and technologies in areas such as security, KYC and compliance.