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Wealth Management & Private Banking

How is AI shaping wealth management in China?

Bobby Bok

17 Aug 2018

The digitization of wealth management in China is evolving fast with a greater use of artificial intelligence in financial planning. In our Q&A, Bobby Bok, Head of Wealth Management Solutions, North Asia, examines fintech progress.


  1. The digitization of wealth management in China has seen large commercial banks test the use of artificial intelligence in financial planning.
  2. As high net worth individuals (HNWIs) in China reach retirement age, the next generation prefer the use of digital platforms.
  3. One-stop intelligent platforms linking HNWIs to client relationship managers will be an important step for wealth management in China.

Wealth management in China has, in recent years, become increasingly digital.

Bobby Bok, Head of Wealth Management Solutions, North Asia, answers questions on the rise of artificial intelligence in financial planning, the advent of robo advisors, and meeting the needs of China’s next generation of high net worth individuals.

Q. Are institutions facing more challenges than opportunities at this early stage of development?

Bobby Bok: I think the challenges and opportunities are co-existent.

Globally, wealth management operations are already largely digitized, so while China may encounter some challenges in this transition, it must keep forging ahead or risk being left behind.

Furthermore, digitization has much more become the norm for investors in Asia Pacific than anywhere else in the world.

Therefore, client relationship managers in all markets need to be able to provide high net worth individuals (HNWI) with real-time information, more attractive and interactive investment tools, and at the same time, highly customized advice and services.

In Asia, China leads in terms of the size of its wealth management market, information technology and its fintech growth capabilities.

It therefore has the potential to be the optimal market to lead fintech innovation and implementation in the region.

As a result, China may take even less time than the West to further develop its wealth management market, and may even catch up to —or surpass — Europe and the United States.

Now, more and more investors are anxious to see how long China will take to break through this disruption.

Q. As wealth management institutions increasingly use artifical intelligence in financial planning, how will digital technology assist in this transition?

Bobby Bok: AI assists institutions by performing laborious and repetitive tasks, such as screening and monitoring various investment tools, thus enabling a more efficient allocation of workers, allowing for more innovative environments and increased overall profits.

This increased efficiency allows institutions to focus on providing individualized customer experiences and solutions in addition to the increased product innovation and differentiation brought about by more efficient digital tools.

AI further allows businesses to better analyze and evaluate consumer trends, building a more through customer profile, as well as to perform more in-depth risk assessments.

These new technical solutions will also allow for more transparent, efficient and smarter decision-making for both businesses and high net worth customers.

As we see presently and also going forward, the influence of digital technology on wealth management institutions will be progressively reflected in their business operations and internal management.

This approach is increasingly being utilized in China, with large commercial banks currently testing the implementation of AI in their financial planning, which highlights the future importance of digital technology in the transformation of business practices and its necessity in shaping the new customer experience.

Q. With the advent of robo advisors, what relationship exists between AI and humans at present? Will this change in the future?

Bobby Bok: The implementation of AI technology into the wealth management industry has brought about unprecedented and potentially disruptive change.

The application of AI to big data has certainly transformed the way investment decisions are made, but the overall experience is still far from ideal, as AI cannot or at least has not replaced human interaction.

In Asia, we are in a period of wealth transfer. Many HNWIs in China are “first generation founders” who are more accustomed to a traditional mode of customer service, placing much emphasis on personal human interaction and communication.

However, many of these individuals are reaching retirement age, giving way to a host of new consumers who display much more openness to digital technology.

In fact, this “second generation” prefers the use of digital platforms and information technology as the emphasis has now shifted towards efficiency and high-quality informative services.

Ultimately, for wealth management in China, the relationship between AI and humans will depend on the institution’s business model and overall customer base.

Indeed, signs of China’s implementation of digital technologies can be seen, with Chinese banks increasing their investment in scientific and technological innovation, supporting the application of financial technology, linking wealth management with machine learning and serving more high net worth customers through the application of robo advisors.

These innovations ultimately result in better financial forecasting, investment decisions, risk assessment and intelligent customer service.

Q. With the use of AI, how can wealth management institutions take advantage of new opportunities and improve their services?

Bobby Bok: Sophisticated, one-stop intelligent platforms are already in use in Europe and the United States, linking high net worth individuals to client relationship managers.

With the Chinese markets booming, I believe that this emerging industry will have a bright future in China.

Furthermore, institutions in Asia are increasing their services directed towards the upper-middle class, as they are optimistic for the potential financial growth and power of this sector.

AI helps institutions attract this customer base, providing them with smarter financial solutions. This is no doubt a sector that will be of utmost importance to Chinese institutions going forward as well.

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