Key Insights from the 2018 BBH Symposium

Technology is driving a complete digital transformation. To win, we need to see the world not as it is, but as it will be. How will emerging technologies like Robotics Process Automation (RPA) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) drive competitive edge for asset managers?

On April 26, 2018, BBH’s fifth annual US Symposium brought together asset management and technology experts to discuss how technology is creating opportunities, helping firms improve operational processes, and growing revenue.

Here are the top 10 insights from our speakers.

1. The best is yet to come

“We’re just scratching the surface of what’s possible.”

Diane Teed, Managing Director, Chief Administrative Officer – Service Delivery, BBH

Searching for new problems to solve with technologies like RPA, AI and machine learning won't produce transformational results immediately. Instead, start with existing business problems and bring together combinations of deep industry experts, technologists, and outside perspectives to approach them in new ways. You'll achieve breakthrough results more quickly and expand the universe of possibilities.

Diane Teed (1)
Keith Haberlin

2. Think differently

 “Conventional wisdom is being turned on its head in the asset management industry.”

Keith Haberlin, Managing Director, Global Head of Securities Lending, BBH

Have fees become more important than performance when selecting fund products? Growth in passive investing need not equate to losses for the active manager; active managers just need to think differently. To compete in this environment, investing in technology is critical to streamline and scale both distribution and operations.

3. User experience is the core of effective technology use

“We can’t forget that it’s about the UI and the creative, and understanding the needs of people that can ultimately make a real difference.”

Joshua Zwick, Partner, Oliver Wyman

While robotics and AI can change the way we do business, don’t lose sight of the need for humanity and creativity. Use technology to redefine the client experience with a focus on brand, web presence, and client-facing applications. Every touch point and client interaction matters, whether that connection point is with a relationship manager or a web page contact form.

Joshua Zwick
Chris Remondi

4. Optimization is key in every corner 

“We’ve always said our clients want transparency and control from us. But now they also need optimization, even in mundane operational aspects of their business."

Chris Remondi, Partner, Head of Strategy, Innovation and Global Markets, BBH

How do you solve for pain points in a fast, light manner? Spend time with companies both in and outside the asset management industry to see how they find opportunities for optimization. And remember that innovation needs to come from the bottom up. Teams working the systems day in and day out can be the first to identify the simple solutions that will leave maximum impact.     

5. It starts with the right people

“You can’t have a conversation about any of this technology if you don’t have someone from operations and customer service in the room."

Katie Chase, Head of Strategy, Planning and Innovation Integration, Fidelity Center for Applied Technology

The true power of technology comes from the intersection of human experience and technological efficiencies. Differing roles should contribute to the diversity of thought leadership within a firm. These experts must work together to ask the right questions and think about real world applications to achieve success.
Katie Chase
Sheri Gilchrist

6. Plan for the 80-year-old millennial   

“We have a responsibility to help evolve our capabilities so that we’re meeting the needs of today’s young client and where they’ll be tomorrow.”

Sheri Gilchrist, Global Chief Marketing Officer, PGIM Investments

Today’s millennials are the C-suite and clients of tomorrow. They have intrinsic technological knowledge based on the environment they grew up in. In planning for the future, it’s important to think not just about the issues at hand, but also what the world may look like five, ten, twenty years from now, and beyond. A transformation could represent an overnight change, but we need to focus on the continuous evolution of being faster, better, and more client focused.

7. Don’t wait for disruption, be the change  

“There’s no one better in this space to transform the business than all of us.”

Michael Woodall, Chief of Operations, Putnam Investments

Asset managers can’t let success prevent their firm from exploring new possibilities. They should find the catalyst that will move their team to want to transform the business. They have the tools at their fingertips. Tech companies need asset managers because the manager knows best what they’re doing and how to make it happen. The real move forward will come from within the industry.  

Michael Woodall
Ranjay Gulati

8. Excel at what you’re good at; be bold enough to be bad at what you’re not

“If you want to be a great company in a dynamic turbulent market, you have to have the courage to be bad at something.”

Professor Ranjay Gulati, Harvard Business School 

Successful companies are not great at everything. They pick their differentiators and excel at those, creating something unique that resonates with clients. Trying to be great at everything will spread resources too thin or inflate cost. Don’t try to be everything to everybody. Asset managers can find success when they excel at their strengths and don’t waste efforts on the rest.  

9. Create the right partnership  

"Thinking beyond tomorrow to bridge to the next chapter in the asset management industry requires the right partnership between people and emerging technology. Technology is the answer, but people need to ask the right questions."

Bill Rosensweig, Partner, Head of Relationship Excellence, BBH

Digital transformation is about the right partnership between humans and technology. AI and RPA can work faster, but they can’t fix a broken process. People need to ask the right questions to create the most efficient processes before a machine can make lasting business impacts.

Bil Rosensweig
Ian Brodie

10. Scalability reigns supreme

“Success means freeing up our experts for more value-added work.”

Ian Brodie, Vice President, Business Transformation Office, Manulife

How do we double in size without doubling the people? Automate everything, so there are no reconciliations, and everyone has real-time access to data. Hire data scientists to provide data analytics so the front office can act more efficiently.

2018 US Symposium Highlights

May 14, 2018