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Is fintech a friend or foe, asks PAM Operations Dinner speaker
11/10/2018 , Alexandra Newlove,

While fintech has helped wealth managers streamline processes and cut costs in some instances, it has introduced its own series of problems, an expert says.

Bill Packman, partner wealth & asset management consulting at KPMG, spoke to the chief operating officers (COOs) who attended PAM Insight’s Annual Operations Dinner at The Goring Hotel in London on Tuesday evening.

Mr Packman, who formerly served as the COO and risk & compliance officer at robo-adviser Nutmeg, said the past 18 months had been a “rollercoaster” for operational heads, as they dealt with an uncertain political climate, and an onslaught of new regulation such as MIFID II and GDPR.

He posed the question of whether fintech had helped or hindered the average COO’s role during this time, and said while some fintech tools helped cut costs and improved user experience, they brought with them heavy expectations for those charged with implementation.

“There’s an expectation from the clients that you can do everything, and do it overnight. There’s an expectation from the rest of your executive that now surely we can compete with the cost profile of the guy down the road, and these costs are becoming more and more transparent,” Mr Packman said.

“As a COO everyone looks at you to maintain the operational resilience of the business regardless of what new initiatives or arrangements have been introduced. Your company has suddenly signed up 10,000 clients you didn’t have last month, or has signed a supplier which is supposed to halve costs.”

Mr Packman said sorting through the melee of which new technologies were useful, and which were more trouble then they were worth, was a core issue for COOs. He encouraged operational leaders to share with and learn from their peers.

“Ask [your peers] how is that working for you? Has it squeezed any costs out? What is the risk profile it’s brought with it? How’s the customer experience. At the end of the day, you have to work as a network.”

The PAM Annual Operations Dinner was held at the Goring Hotel on Tuesday 9 October 2018. It was attended by 25 wealth management chief operating officers (or the like) and was kindly sponsored by JHC. The evening was chaired by PAM Insight editorial director Tristan Blythe.

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