BOSTON—After a long period of consistent profitability, the wealth and asset management sector is facing rising costs, shrinking margins, and intensifying consumer demands. Firms are looking for ways to accelerate their digital transformations, bring more of what their clients want to the table, and bolster assets under management—all in the most cost-efficient way. According to a new report by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and global end-to-end wealth platform provider, FNZ, a new breed of end-to-end third-party operating models deployed by wealth and asset managers could deliver significant cost savings, create new and innovative business models, and generate new revenue streams.
The report, titled Scalable Tech and Operations in Wealth and Asset Management, is based on unique insights derived from illustrative case data and research from more than 33 major asset managers and 20 major wealth managers across Europe and North America. It also draws on additional data sets from Asia Pacific and the Middle East and Africa. The report highlights both evolving regulatory requirements and how growing investor demand for personalization is making it crucial for wealth and asset managers to pursue digital and operating model transformations.
“Wealth and asset managers are faced with a myriad of challenges, and it’s clear that partnering with end-to-end third-party operating models can yield benefits and create competitive advantage if done right, despite running counter to certain long-established practices,” says Akin Soysal, a BCG managing director and partner and coauthor of the report.
“Customer demands for personalized wealth solutions are steadily rising along the value chain, requiring wealth and asset managers to make further investments,” says Din Mustaffa, group chief strategy officer at FNZ. “It’s important to note that while most of these changes will require technology as an enabler, operating models will also need to be adjusted to navigate the shifting landscape in a cost-effective manner.”
While AUM Decreased, Cost-to-Income Ratios Increased
According to the report, the first step toward efficient and cost-effective transformation by wealth and asset managers is understanding the current industry drivers—forces that are exacerbated by high market uncertainty, elevated interest rates, and slower assets under management (AuM).
Despite largely favorable market conditions over the past few years, industry cost-to-income ratios (CIRs) have risen. While larger asset managers witnessed a gradual increase between 2018 and 2021—with a rise to 74% in 2022—smaller asset managers with less than $300 billion in AuM saw a more pronounced increase to 78%. CIRs for larger wealth managers have been stable at 71%, while smaller wealth players, with AuM below $150 billion, on average suffered a steep increase to surpass 82% in 2022. Technology spending has been a key driver of increased CIRs. The average share of technology in total operating expenses reached over 15% across both wealth and asset managers in 2022, up from 13% five years earlier. Over the same time frame, IT spending has particularly been on the rise in application development (+25%) and hosting (+19%), mirroring the expansion of new requirements as well as large investments in cloud migration.
For the first time since the 2008–2009 financial crisis, global AuM declined in 2022 (by roughly 15%). With wealth and asset managers facing continuous margin compression driven by the increasing share of passive investments, rising competition from digital players and the consolidation of large incumbents with significant scale advantages, return on assets fell by 3% per year from 2018 through 2021. While advisory fees have remained relatively stable, product fees have been hit by fierce competition and increased cost transparency, with declines of 11% for active funds and 35% for passive funds since 2017. Finally, asset-servicing margins for clients with more than $2 million have decreased by 16% since 2017.
At the same time, client demands are steadily rising along the value chain, requiring wealth and asset managers to make further investments in areas such as hybrid-advisory, direct-indexing, and managed-portfolio services. Clients are increasingly demanding full transparency of their investments to ensure alignment with their personal values and goals (e.g., sustainability).
Third-Party Platform Solutions Are Filling In-House Technology Gaps
Continuous margin pressure, ever-evolving regulatory and cyber-security requirements, as well as growing investor demand for personalization, make it imperative for wealth and asset managers to pursue digital and operating-model transformations. Firms are turning to third-party technology providers to help them achieve their goals. The share of third-party technology spend has risen by more than 10% since 2018 across both run-the-bank and change-the-bank initiatives at wealth and asset management firms. Industry players are leveraging third-party operating models in various ways:
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FNZ is the global platform provider in the wealth management sector, partnering with over 800 of the world’s leading financial institutions and over 8,000 wealth management firms.
With around 6,000 employees in 30+ global locations, FNZ’s mission is to use cutting edge technology to open-up wealth, helping everyone, everywhere to invest in their future.
FNZ removes friction from the wealth management world by integrating a modern adviser and end investor experience with sophisticated investment administration and business operations. By combining technology, infrastructure, and investment operations into a single state-of-the-art platform, FNZ frees its partners to create hyper-personalized and innovative products and services that are seamlessly aligned with the needs of their end-clients.
To date, FNZ administers more than $1.5 trillion in client assets and has enabled over 20 million people, from all wealth segments, to invest in an effective, simple, and transparent way, making wealth management accessible to everyone.
For more information, please visit www.FNZ.com and follow us on LinkedIn (@FNZ Group).