Just because technology is available doesn't mean a given industry is making good use of it. The Swiss startup WealthArc wants to capitalize on new forms of technology and reinvent its market.
It’s easy for well-established industries, like finance, to become set in their ways. Over the decades, what once was an improvement or positive development can morph into an obligation or a burden, with a “payoff” that’s of little benefit. In these circumstances, disruption is the remedy for freeing the industry from its shackles – but disruption is easy to talk about and hard to achieve.
For Chris Gogol, founder and CEO of the FinTech startup WealthArc, “We had no option but to innovate. We’re believers in the power of artificial intelligence and cloud computing, and wanted to create a platform for wealth managers to harness these innovations in automation, integrated data and digital processes.”
Bridging the gap
In Gogol’s case, he noticed a gap between the technology available and what wealth management firms and private banks were offering to clients.
As Gogol saw it, finance seemed to be facing a two-pronged issue. First, many financial firms weren’t making use of the most cutting-edge technology available.
“There are a lot of banks, and a lot of IT companies, that are running a lot of outdated technology or even manual paper-driven processes,” he said. “We all just need to keep up – and technology is the driver.”
Second, consumers, who are now used to smartphones, intelligent thermostats and voice-controlled home assistants, now have high expectations when it comes to technology. In most cases, their financial services providers aren’t meeting those expectations.
“The end consumers want intuitive, easy-to-use technology,” Gogol said. “When it comes to high net-worth individuals, demand is actually growing. That isn’t something they are finding with their financial advisors now.”
“There is no doubt that wealth management firms and their advisors are now at a turning point, and have a great opportunity to reinvent themselves in order to both deliver an exceptional digital experience for the digital natives as well as to define a new generation of high touch services,” said David Akellian, Managing Director and Global Head of Wealth Management at Thomson Reuters. “The industry challenge and the opportunity, is helping ensure that wealth firms and their advisers are better equipped with the AI, advanced analytics, insight and technology necessary to meet their clients rapidly evolving investment and service needs.”
Starting a revolution
To address those two issues, Gogol founded WealthArc in 2015.The software-as-a-service, all-in-one platform helps independent financial advisors cut out manual documentation, unify processes and quickly analyze relevant information, and then share that information with clients, who have access to a simple, streamlined portal that provides clear insight into what’s important.
“There is a lot of IT software, but it is for large enterprises,” Gogol said. “In Switzerland, the United States, the UK, there are a lot of small to medium-sized investment houses. We created a full service, all-in-one solution that is fully automatic. Our clients don’t have to worry about costly IT infrastructure, hidden costs and expensive support calls.”
A significant part of WealthArc’s value proposition is a unique application programming interface (API) engine that overcomes any data consolidation challenges and integrates various high net-worth private banks. The Swiss start-up already consolidates over US$10 billion assets daily from custodians in Europe, Asia and North America.
Preparing for the future
WealthArc was one of the founding residents of the Thomson Reuters Labs Incubator in Zug, the heart of the Swiss “crypto-valley.” Participation in the program gives start-ups access to mentorship, data and business expertise.
During its year at the Incubator, WealthArc has worked closely with Thomson Reuters Wealth Management Team. The collaboration lead to integration WealthArc’s portfolio management module with Thomson Reuters Eikon.
Robert Cavers, Partnerships Development Manager, Continental Europe, Market Development, has worked with WealthArc since it joined the Incubator.
“They have been probably the wealth management platform in Switzerland, and there are a lot of them,” he said. “The dynamism of their CEO is really something to see. Typically, startups struggle with balancing the concept and getting off the ground and lining up clients, but they have managed that very smoothly. I can tell it’s going to go places as a company.”