If you’ve landed here, you’re a step ahead of most of your industry.
Most people have heard of digital investment platforms, but don’t truly understand what one could do for financial services, or how to get started.
But that’s all set to change over the course of the year.
Some of the biggest players have tried and failed to build and launch their own digital investment solutions, and others are partnering to create these solutions for their customers.
This means the smart money is starting to look for fintech firms with extensive experience and proven platforms to do it for them.
With this in mind, we’ve put together a guide featuring everything financial institutions might want to know about launching a digital investing platform.
What is a digital investment platform?
A digital investment platform is a digital solution that blends automated financial and business management functions with the human touch where needed, to allow customers to save and invest money in stocks, shares, investment funds and make more of their money.
Digital platforms can be set up to look like a financial brand’s own investment platform, complete with logo and identity integrated throughout.
But unlike building your own products, you don’t have to do any of the hard work of building, running or maintaining it.
You buy a proven digital investment solution already used and trusted by other firms and then customise it to make it your own.
The best digital investment platform providers go a step further than making the system look like it belongs to you. They also tailor it with bespoke functionality, features and settings, so you can match it to your service offering and workflow.
Why does my financial institution need a digital investment platform?
As the digital native generation (those born with the internet in place) ages, the demand for a traditional financial services provider to have a digital offering increases.
It’s almost an expectation now that you’ll have some sort of digital investment platform to support your clients.
Perhaps more importantly, digital investment solutions are driving down the cost of providing financial services through automation, AI and machine learning technologies, replacing human decision making with algorithm-based decision making.
After all, a robot doesn’t require a desk, lunch breaks or pension contribution to work!
In order to stay relevant and competitive, traditional financial institutions need to embrace this before they start losing clients to competitors who already have.
What can I expect a digital investment platform to do?
There are a variety of different pieces of functionality that can be built into a digital investment platform but some of the most common include:
Taking suitability assessments and fact-finding exercises onto the platform increases client engagement, reduces drop offs and saves you time. Your digital onboarding can either work as a stand alone direct to consumer offering or go hand in hand with you bringing the personal touch to the process. This allows you to spend your energies on building relationships with new clients rather than repetitive form filling.
Seeing progress against goals is very motivating for human beings, but effective communication of this can be lacking in a traditional financial services environment. An investment platform will allow your clients to view their progress against their savings or investment goals, either set by themselves or in collaboration with you.
Do you spend a tonne of time preparing client reports and forecasts, slogging away with PowerPoint or Excel to create charts they might hopefully understand? A digital investment platform does all of this for you, so that beautiful charts and simple explanations are available at their fingertips, any time they want to see them.
Gone are the days of mountains of form filling, your digital investment solution should allow your clients to transfer their funds to you at the touch of a button.
Imagine if you didn’t have to find the time to send critical client communications. A digital investment platform will offer you some degree of messaging automation so your clients receive the right message at the right time with no manual input needed from your advisors. Consistent communication also helps to build better relationships.
Whether you’re looking at client engagement, portfolio performance or individual advisor performance, an investment platform puts an end to any manual data gathering and presentation, allowing you to get the insights you need faster.
It’s not just clients that get great reporting with a modern investment platform, you do too. No more hunting for information across different systems or struggling to sync formatting, just a couple of clicks and your reporting is done.
Key considerations when deciding on a digital investment platform
There are a variety of different digital investment solutions out there ranging from the “out of the box” “take it as you find it” type where you can add your logo and not a lot else, to bespoke providers who can tailor almost any aspect of the platform to match your service and workflow requirements. What you go for will depend on a few factors:
If you have a lot of high net worth, young or less tech savvy clients, you’ll want to anticipate their needs for a system that’s really intuitive and beautifully designed, filled with the functionality they ask you for most often. Brand expectations:
Depending on how strict your organisation is on brand, you may need to make sure you look for a digital investment platform that is prepared to create something that’s an exact match to your guidelines, not just a bit of window dressing with colours and logos.
If your organisation is very tech fluent and open to changes in process, you might be able to get away with an investment platform that doesn’t exactly match your current workflow and service offering requirements, but if you’re not in this category, something that’s been tailored to suit will be better adopted, with more value delivered.
Generally, the more work you do in setup and the less changes you require from a digital investment platform provider, the cheaper the solution will be. However, be cautious and compare a variety of quotes as this isn’t necessarily going to be the case.
Vision for digital
If, like most people, you’re convinced that the digital customer experience is important and will only get more so over time, you’ll want to look for a digital investment solution that gives you scope to deliver an excellent experience in the present and will continue to improve the offering as you go along.
How do I get a digital investment platform?
- The starting point is to identify a number of providers you’d like to talk to by looking through their websites and narrowing it down to 5-6 you like the sound of.
- The next step is to request demonstrations from the sales teams at those providers and take detailed notes on what you like or don’t like about them.
- After you’ve got a feel for what’s out there, write a specification of what your organisation needs from a digital investment platform based on what you’ve seen is possible (see our preliminary questionnaire below to help you with this process) and keep a second list of things you’d like to have that you haven’t seen thus far. This second list can be shared with any digital investment platform provider offering bespoke services.
- Shortlist again to the three or four you liked the look of and ask for a quotation based on your specification.
- Have another longer and more detailed meeting with the providers who can meet your specification and whose pricing aligns with your budget. Make sure you have senior representatives of all stakeholder groups in the room.
- Make a final decision on who the right partner is for you!
What should I look for in a digital investment platform provider?
There are a few things that will be critical for choosing your digital investment platform provider regardless of your individual platform specification:
A good digital investment solutions provider will offer a degree of flexibility to meet the individual needs of your organisation, both now and in the future.
The right partner is critical, you need to be sure they see you as a valued partner, not just as another cog in gearing up to be a mass SaaS type provider.
You’ve got big visions for the future and you need to make sure your digital investment platform will come with you. This means finding a provider who’s on the same page as you with where the industry is going and what requirements in the future might look like.
How do I manage a digital investment platform?
Setup and management should be simple and guided by your provider. You won’t be asked to do any of the technical work to keep the platform operating smoothly but you will need to put in your own content and tweak aspects of the platform’s setting to suit your organisation.
You’ll also need to make sure new staff are trained on the platform as part of their induction and onboarding process.
How do I measure the ROI of a digital investment platform?
There are a number of ways you can measure your return on investment from a digital investment platform.
You might look for an increase in customer acquisition or retention figures since the platform was introduced, but this relies on the introduction of the platform being the only major change happening at the time.
If this isn’t true for your organisation, you might want to include specific questions around the perceived value of your digital investment solution during the sales process and in your customer satisfaction surveys.
You can also look for spontaneous mentions of the platform in positive customer reviews or talk to the staff at the front line about how they’re using the platform to acquire and retain clients.
Contact sales for more information.