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Created on 27.9.2021 I By Dr. Harald Brock

Tech company turns local banks into entire marketplaces

Too local to fail? This is only true in the securities business if regional banks offer more independent advice and focus more on asset management. A marketplace that is not just blue or red should therefore be part of every regional bank!

Individual savings banks and Volksbanks have smaller budgets for digitalisation and compliance compared to global banks and FinTechs. The big pots lie dormant with the central organisations and associations. However, these usually only provide standard solutions for asset allocation or asset management, which form the lowest common denominator in the group, but do not necessarily improve local competitiveness sustainably and in all respects. They are strongly influenced by Deka or Union Investment, especially in the investment area - but such intra-group solutions are not always the first choice for informed end customers.

In addition, the institutions are also under stress with regard to compliance with regulations in the securities area. This point and the pressure to be innovative therefore often create fears in the small regional banks that are completely unfounded today. This is especially true for contemporary securities products that help the institutions to increase commission income, avoid negative interest rates and win over especially critical customers with the help of personal advice.

Countering pressure from two sides

Basel, MiFID II etc. - each is a piece of the regulatory puzzle that banks and savings banks have to put together in addition to their normal business. Many regional financial institutions are therefore withdrawing from advice-intensive investment advisory services since MiFID regulation came into force, or are recording less client-centric processes, as a flood of paper and signatures acts as a deterrent. In addition, trailer fees from the fund business have been on the back burner for years. Digitised asset management, ideally combined with a marketplace, can offer a forward-looking alternative.

Such a high-quality asset management, where the customer can choose from different asset allocations of renowned players such as DJE, BlackRock, StateStreet, etc., including the possibly existing own asset management of the house bank, is still in vain at many regional institutions. In construction financing, on the other hand, many institutions have been following this path for some time. The result there: customer satisfaction due to greater independence in personal advisory services. Another important aspect is that asset management is much easier to market than investment advice. Subsequent customer care is also more cost-effective.

Not only banks, but the entire economy is facing immense digitalisation and objectivity pressure. The regional institutions do not have to be afraid of new ways here. In fact, many of them are ideally positioned. The personal, grown and local relationship, which is especially more pronounced at the savings banks and Volksbanks than at other financial institutions, can again easily create a competitive advantage. Technology and regulatory platforms can effortlessly handle the demands placed on banks from outside and provide a marketplace that creates objectivity. At the same time, innovative players provide the regional banks with asset management data in the core banking systems of Finanz Informatik or Fiducia. For the end customer, it is not obvious that a strong platform or marketplace is being used in the background. In this way, regional institutions can once again compete with the growing number of independent asset managers and renowned private banks.

Compliance as a Code

Sophisticated personal advice and support is now supported by software, comprehensive automation including digital onboarding and customer dashboards in the design of the respective institution. For customers, a completely new service experience is created - state-of-the-art digital assistance tools seamlessly combine with personal and individualised advice from the bank. This requires consistent further thinking on the part of savings banks and Volksbanks. One is no longer just a local provider with red or blue colouring, but becomes the marketplace where one can ask for the most diverse high-quality financial investments - with the know-how and trust of the local advisor.

An absolute novelty is the comprehensive outsourcing of regulated tasks that such a marketplace brings with it. Continuous changes, amendments or extensions to the law otherwise entail lengthy conversion processes that are highly prone to error. One-stop approaches make these problems obsolete, as new regulations are centrally fed into the applications by the platform provider. Digital processes that are mapped via the platform strengthen compliance. In this way, they even offer stronger and faster support than often comes from the associations or in-house solutions.

Too local to fail

One-stop and marketplace approaches, such as those from the technology and regulatory service provider investify TECH, are convincing more and more small and medium-sized banks. They enable them to comprehensively digitalise their private banking or high-end private customer business, allowing them to conveniently carry out all sales and settlement processes from anywhere.

Special regulatory modules, which significantly minimise the regulatory burden in the bank, are of particular benefit. Thanks to the platform strategy, the local focus of savings banks and Volksbanks is no longer a disadvantage. The costs for the set-up remain low, as the required services can be selected from a modular system. The running costs for Software as a Service and outsourcing are based on the size and success of the respective institution. This means that the regulatory and thus also monetary requirements due to MiFID and similar regulations become much more manageable through a platform and thus also affordable for every bank.

Conclusion: Focus on customers

Today, banks only need the mindset to tackle digitalisation, as it does not build up complexity, but reduces it, allowing them to focus on sales, asset management and thus on the competitive strengths of a regional institution. Through the innovative handling of regulation, small and medium-sized banks in particular can benefit from more intensive supervision, as they too can now fall back on high-end solutions and link these with local strengths.

The client is coming back into focus with marketplaces for asset management. The opening IT architecture of the core banking system providers supports this process. The same applies to the needs of clients: They do not always want in-house services, but an objective bouquet of high-quality products via a marketplace, especially for asset management. What they also want is a contact person in the place they trust.

The article was first published in "Der Bank Blog" at https://www.der-bank-blog.de/tech-unternehmen-banken/retail-banking/37679785/.