Tech revolution must not come at cost of simplicity


Phil Newbold says it is vital wealth managers do not lose sight of customer service

Technology is becoming ever more integral to private banking, but client service remains key, according to Phil Newbold, Kleinwort Hambros Commercial Chief Strategy Officer.

Speaking as part of the WealthBriefing’s panel discussion, Technology and operations trends in the wealth management industry, Kleinwort Hambros’ commercial chief strategy officer said, “You can implement the most secure system but if it is a nightmare to log in, it is pointless. You must balance ease of use with security.”

And while technology is central, banks should not lose sight of customer service, he added, “Technology is a key driver for our business, but we should also use innovation to do simple things well. If we deliver customer service, that will keep clients happy.”

The recent merger of Kleinwort Benson and SGPB Hambros had, Phil said, highlighted potential cost savings that technology makes possible, although he argued that focus would continue to be on customer service, which would in turn drive revenue.

Asked whether he favoured a ‘best-of-breed’ multi-platform or single-system approach, Phil said the two were not mutually exclusive. While using just one platform may save on costs, it can be a less dynamic model and it can prove difficult to assimilate future add-ons, leading to narrower solutions. 

“In an ideal world you would be looking at one system to deliver cutting-edge technology and cutting-edge experience. But we are looking to use best-of-breed capability and integrate various providers with one existing offering,” he said

Phil argued that the ability to communicate is one of the most important benefits of technology today, but predicted that anything that streamlined the on-boarding process would be invaluable in the future.

However, despite all these advances, he cautioned that as a 200-year-old bank, Kleinwort Hambros still had a number of clients who are “comfortable with what they are used to.”

“There is a nervousness around change and it is imperative any technology introduced helps to build trust, so we can change that mindset and help people understand the benefits so nobody is left behind,” he added.

Phil was joined on the panel by representatives from Seven Investment Managament, SS&C Advent, and banking industry expert, Dennis Harhalakis. Wendy Spires, Global Head of Research at the WealthBriefing chaired.