Asiaciti Trust: How to Harness Digital Innovation to Improve Fiduciary Services

We all know the world is changing. The transformation is happening right in front of our eyes.

For fiduciary services providers that feel comfortable with the status quo, transient as it may be, the relentless pace of digital innovation is troublesome. Disruption stalks incumbents in countless other industries, after all. How long can fiduciary services hold out?

In fact, disruption has already come to the fiduciary services space. It’s up to incumbents to harness it to their own advantage as they work to improve the services they already provide and add new solutions to keep pace with change.

In a recent interview, Asiaciti Trust executive Ross Belhomme shared some thoughts about the state of technological innovation in fiduciary services. Drawing upon his experience as Asiaciti Trust’s Singapore-based managing director and deputy chairman of the Digital Assets SIG Steering Committee of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP), he offered some advice for fellow fiduciary service providers navigating the changes.

AI-Assisted Risk Management Provides Peace of Mind (and Actual Security)

Risk management keeps many fiduciaries up at night, understandably so. The digital threat environment has never been more challenging. And in an ever more uncertain world, market risk is a massive threat as well.

Fortunately, AI is changing the risk management sector for the better. Fiduciaries that choose not to leverage AI-assisted risk management protocols risk their clients’ peace of mind, not to mention the actual security of their accounts and assets.

Ross Belhomme

Ross Belhomme

Asiaciti Trust’s Belhomme merely offers a caution here.

“Our industry has perhaps been too focused on risk management for the providers themselves, rather than centering the drive on improving the service and experience to the client,”

he noted. The time has come for fiduciary service providers to expand the horizon of control, so to speak, and extend those same capabilities to clients as well.

Robust Client Service Interfaces Improve Client-Advisor Communication and Cooperation

The asynchronous back-and-forth conversation, or what Belhomme calls “the email ping-pong game,” is familiar to every advisor (and most clients too).

Fortunately, technology can render it obsolete, if and when fiduciary service providers make the investment in better client service. The key, says Belhomme, is a client interface that enables client self-service and allows both the client and advisor to interact independently. A robust client service interface should also allow anytime, anywhere data access in a secure, walled-off digital vault. That’s a boon for digital security as well, as we’ll see.

White-Labeled Wealth Management Solutions Provide Personalized Service (and Client Self-Service) at Scale

A key promise of technology-enabled client service is its potential to make clients feel as if they’re the only one in the world. Advisors have long striven to do just this, but Belhomme acknowledges that they haven’t always succeeded. “Client service and client experience levels in our industry [do] have room for improvement,” he admitted.

Perhaps for this reason, it’s increasingly common for fiduciary services providers to offer white-label products as part of a broader wealth and asset management package. This has benefits for fiduciaries and clients alike: the former by lending credibility and a sense of scale to their operations, and the latter by reassuring clients accustomed to personalized and responsive service that the firm is up to the task of addressing their needs.

New Digital Asset Classes Present New Challenges (And New Opportunities)

Technology has created entirely new asset classes that didn’t exist a decade ago, like cryptocurrencies and NFTs. Asiaciti Trust’s Belhomme advises fiduciary service providers to speak with their clients about these asset classes. Even if they’re not appropriate for many clients, it’s important for advisors to stay current on trends that affect their industries.

Digital assets do present compliance and regulatory challenges that advisors need to anticipate (and, where the regulatory framework remains confusing or under-developed, advocate for). For example, Belhomme notes that clients’ close family members and advisors generally can’t access crypto and NFTs as a matter of course. As a practical matter, they need the clients’ private keys, and some jurisdictions (including the United States) only allow certain fiduciaries to access client accounts after death. Belhomme foresees the need for “digitally competent trustees [or] digital executor[s]” entrusted to guide families through postmortem digital asset transfers.

Digital Innovation Is Happening, Are You Making the Most of It?

Digital innovation is happening right now, whether fiduciary services providers like it or not. The coming years will, unfortunately, see many providers fail because they prefer the old way of doing things. Those that adopt new modes of client service and risk management stand a better chance of surviving and thriving.

As Asiaciti Trust’s Ross Belhomme noted, the world is an increasingly complex and interconnected place. However, the way forward is clear for fiduciary services providers willing to embrace technological change. That way involves using technology to better manage compliance workloads, create customized and even personalized client service solutions, anticipate new client needs in the digital asset space, and leverage artificial intelligence to reduce digital threats and market risk.

Are you ready to take this path? Your organisation’s future could depend on it.

Featured image: Ross Belhomme, Executive Board Member, Asiaciti Trust

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