2018 is set to be an interesting year for financial services. In making our predictions for the coming year three themes stand out: regulation, transformation and conversation. 

We discuss these key themes and what they mean for your 2018 strategy. 

1. Regulation

MiFID II and GDPR - A new global benchmark?

The arrival of two far reaching pieces of EU legislation – GDPR and MiFID II - means 2018 will be a disruptive year for financial services, with the potential to radically alter the investment landscape. All eyes will be on how the industry adapts to the reforms.

Our prediction:

“MiFID II and GDPR will bring radical change, but firms will adapt and once the dust has settled, the foundations are laid for new practices. In the shake-out we expect a new global benchmark to emerge and it will be interesting to watch where and when it emerges.” 
Andrew Walsh, CEO - Iress

RegTech - a problem solved?

Increasing regulatory obligations means the cost of compliance is typically escalating by more than 10% a year for firms. RegTech (regulation technology) is answering a massive need to control costs and introduce efficiencies, little wonder that its application in financial services is accelerating as firms look to technology to solve the challenges of regulatory compliance. 

Our prediction:

“As levels of regulation rise and the global focus on data and reporting increases, we’ll see further innovation in the RegTech space and software being increasingly deployed to enable automated tracking of financial advice outcomes and documentation. RegTech will play a significant role in the financial services industry’s future and is an exciting area to watch.” 
Andrew Walsh, CEO - Iress

2. Transformation

Distraction risks ahead

Technology has been a major focus for advisers in recent years. It’s not necessarily about disruptive technologies but solutions that enable them to deliver efficient and quality advice. We’re also seeing a shift in focus from delivering efficiency to driving better outcomes and value for clients.

Our prediction:

“The pace of technological change is set to accelerate over the next decade and there will be massive distraction risks. The advisers who succeed in this new complex environment will be the ones who understand the impact of major trends such as data, digital and mobile advice. But above all, it will be the advisers who avoid the distraction of exciting new tech tools and focus on aligning technology closely to their business models.”
Andrew Walsh, CEO -  Iress

Big data will be big business

Data has become a vital currency in our digital world. In 2017 the big data industry overtook oil as the world’s most valuable traded commodity. Predictions that more than 40 Zettabytes (or 40 trillion gigabytes) of digital data will be generated by 2020 indicate it’s not slowing down any time soon. As personal data becomes harder to earn, it becomes a key asset for competitive advantage.

Our prediction:

“The focus on advice and client data management will continue in 2018. With more data being more accessible and algorithms becoming increasingly sophisticated, solutions that produce insights and decisions from data patterns will be increasingly commonplace. This will propel machine learning to new heights and deliver real AI.”
Aaron Knowles, Group Executive, Product - Iress

Will this be Blockchain and Bitcoin’s year?

With significant potential to remove friction from processes, Blockchain could be transformational in saving time and costs across the financial services industry. As blockchain reaches a level of maturity and crypto currencies unlock greater efficiencies, 2018 could be a pivotal year for this fintech.

Our prediction:

“We’ll see greater application of Blockchain in areas like securities exchanges where it will be used to optimise the trade settlement process, reconcilliation and compliance processes, creating better user experiences and efficiency. More players will leverage integrations with financial trading products into digital currency exchanges and, with crypto currencies accepted as a viable asset class, smart contracts will be the next to take off.”
Andrew Todd, CTO - Iress

3. Conversation

Bots, AI and machine learning

We’ve only seen the start in terms of the potential for automated, algorithm-based robo-advice. Bots and artificial intelligence could change all that, together presenting a number of opportunities to add innovation and value to advice propositions. With nearly 4 in 5 consumers (78%) saying they would welcome bot-advice for traditional investing, conversation-based architecture has a big role to play in future advice technology.

Our prediction:

“In 2018 conversational interfaces such as voice and chatbots will become more established as another channel for financial services; complementing traditional screen-based interfaces. The key will be in ensuring the experience, quality and resulting content is consistent across all channels, especially where guidance regarding financial products and advice is involved.” 
Aaron Knowles, Global Executive, Product - Iress

The rise of hybrid planning

As clients seek more options and flexibility, advisers have been busily adapting and evolving their offering to service this changing demand. Supporting a good user experience and consistent advice across multiple channels means the right architecture becomes essential. Advisers will not want to be using disparate tools or multiple stand-alone applications but seamless technology that supports effective and efficient client engagement. 

Our prediction:

“We see a growing trend for advisers to use the best technology available for their business, while preserving the traditional face to face engagement with clients that they value and trust. When it comes to digital advice, a hybrid model will dominate. We don’t see a world where we only have digital advice, it will be a combination of people and technology.
Andrew Walsh, CEO - Iress

The Outlook for 2018

New regulation and advances in technology means 2018 will be a transformative year for financial services. The challenge will be to not get distracted by it. Have a clear vision on where you want to go in 2018 (and beyond), then use the right technology to get you there.

Predictions 2018: Regulation. Transformation. Conversation