At the 8th Annual Digital Integration in Wealth Management Conference in London, keynote speaker, Iain Cowell of Franklin Templeton, spoke on the hurdles that private banking faces. He highlighted that a lot of firms are going through the same issues.

Cowell, International Head of Digital Wealth Partnerships at Franklin Templeton, a top 10 global asset manager, started with a quote from Christopher McDougall in his book; Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen: “Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up, it knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn’t matter whether you’re the lion or a gazelle-when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.”

Cowell stated: “We are all looking at the same problems in wealth management, in different ways. It’s exciting to come together to find ways to solve for the client – we all have to be running.”

In addition, as a firm that is 50% owned by its original family, the Johnsons, he said: “We have to focus on building a firm of the future, but we have to deliver for our current clients as well.”

This would not be the first time balance is discussed, but the outlook was positive in finding and maintaining it.

Products and meaningfulness

In terms of products, Cowell explained: “We are constantly looking for new ways to deliver traditional products and to enrich how customers engage with them.”

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However, he clarified that Franklin Templeton is “not a tech firm and do not pretend to be – technology supports the asset management services and enables us to deliver at scale”

The key is to gather data and information and then delivering it in different and important ways for clients.

Technological advancements, such as AI and blockchain, are being undertaken by Franklin Templeton but they are no longer things of the future; “this is all happening today”.

Furthermore, Cowell said that it does not matter what the product is if the client does not care.

He set out: “The product has to mean something to customers and clients. We all have different needs, but the common denominator is meaningfulness.

“If you feel engaged with your money, you feel more empowered. We all need to find a way to get people more engaged, more empowered, and feeling more positive emotions in their financial lives.”

Generational gap

The private banking sector is constantly talking about the different needs of different generations. However, while generations may be different, people within those generations are different as well. It would be a mistake to presume all Gen X clients think the same.

Cowell added: “It is important to think about generations changing attitudes and perspectives. Different generations have experienced very different sets of circumstances. Baby boomers are reflected by more regular income and savings whereas millennials are more likely to have significantly more debt.

“Baby boomers represent $36trn in the industry whereas Gen X and Millennials are under half that. Baby boomers have really shaped the industry. Younger generations want to know how it works and to get involved and we need to find that balance.”

Cowell concluded: “What does the investment solution of the future look like? It will bring together expertise and social identity. It will mean something to savers and investors.”