In the final of two features, we’re taking an exclusive look at the key issues affecting the UK financial services industry with two of the sector’s key players – Robert Nye, Head of South West & Wales, Cazenove Capital and Andrew Davies, Head of Regions, Partner, LGT Wealth Management LLP...
• How is the financial services industry evolving in terms of the skills and people being sought?
Andrew Davies, LGT Wealth Management LLP “At the heart of our business are client relationships and therefore we continue to seek out people with excellent client skills, empathy and desire to help people. The fast pace of the world and communication means it is increasingly important that our people can assimilate large amounts of information from all the noise and identify the real narrative that is affecting investment decisions and client outlooks, as well as identifying fake news. This increasing noise means communication skills are even more important as everyone has shorter attention spans and therefore communicating complex information in a concise manner is essential.”
Robert Nye, Cazenove Capital “There has been increasing demand for data analytics and related skills for many years now – this is increasingly spanning out across all parts of the industry. Even in areas which have been traditionally dominated by relationship skills it is now expected that technology is used to enhance service delivery. In terms of people there is a strong focus on increasing the diversity of the talent base in all aspects – an imperative which I am proud that Cazenove Capital takes action to support.”
• There have been some dramatic changes to working life in recent years. How has WFH etc impacted your business?
Robert Nye, Cazenove Capital “The impact of WFH has been markedly different depending on subsector and role within financial services. With my own area of wealth management, a ‘high-touch’ service business, we have always been ‘hybrid’ as would always meet clients wherever suited them best, be that at our offices, their place of work, or their home. In fact I believe clients place increasing value on ‘face to face’ time as it is ever less common. Another significant impact has been increased focus on making sure the operational technology stack has been able to cope with working from anywhere which has driven time efficiency. Clients are appreciating face to face more as it has become more unusual.”
Andrew Davies, LGT Wealth Management LLP “As a client-facing business, we are used to working remotely with clients which meant our technology almost seamlessly allowed us to move to a WFH model, with some adjustment to managing risks in the operations. Demand for hybrid working is definitely not going to go away but there is a return to what is a more mature and probably healthy attitude to a majority based in the office working environment, allowing flexibility for those who want it, but also allowing for training and culture development by working with colleagues. Over time I think the short-term benefits of WFH will be balanced by the career enhancing benefits of team working and learning from peers on the job. Technology will improve to enhance this remote ability meaning hybrid working will stay and develop.”
• What are your views on AI, both for good and for bad?
Andrew Davies, LGT Wealth Management LLP “This is a difficult one to disseminate the real from the noise at the moment. It is clear the technology is likely to lead to an even bigger dislocation than the emergence of the internet but from an investment perspective looking where the wealth will be created from it is not clear yet.”
“There is a lot to be fearful of from the technology, but it is something that is unlikely to be stopped so we should embrace the positive aspects. For an advice business there are huge opportunities in machine learning as computers can read so much more and, for example, spot patterns much better than any human, so therefore analysis of investments and compliance matters in investment recommendations will be enhanced. However, I’m unsure how an AI entity would cope with the emotional aspects of discussing inheritance plans across a diverse family or dealing with financial matters in the event of a sudden health crisis in any near-term future.”
Robert Nye, Cazenove Capital “It is difficult to opine on how the impact of AI will be ‘good’ or ‘bad’ as I expect that to be a matter of perspective – what is undeniable that there is a great deal of change already starting as a result. I have long been a fan of the Bill Gates adage that “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten,” but I wonder if AI will accelerate this timeline. Within financial services – an industry defined by seemingly natural AI domains of data analysis and effective communication – I am hopeful that the productivity gains should enable more customised and better-priced services for end users.”
• What tips would you give entrepreneurs in terms of growing their business, especially in the current climate?
Robert Nye, Cazenove Capital “We exist in an era of a great deal of change – now more than ever entrepreneurs need to be prepared to adjust and adapt as they grow. The art is combining flexible delivery with consistent principals and messaging which are critical to effective financial services.”
Andrew Davies, LGT Wealth Management LLP “It is an increasingly faced paced world with growing political risks. A potentially recessionary environment means the day-to-day activity of dealing with keeping a business running well is difficult enough, however from my position its essential to keep a focus on the long-term plans as well. You don’t want to make short-term decisions that take the long-term plan too far off course.
“I’ve been in the fortunate position within LGT Wealth Management to take responsibility for growing the regional business. Our private ownership by the Princely Family of Liechtenstein means we can take a long-term approach, continuing to invest in new talent across the regions and in growing our business.”
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