Interview with Marc Hauser, Head of F10 Switzerland, in the THE SWISS WEALTHTECH LANDSCAPE REPORT 2021 on why F10 has an exciting role in aligning the wealth and FinTech sectors in Switzerland.
F10 aims to be the space where innovation meets industry. “What that means in practice is that we want to provide the space for emerging FinTechs, RegTech, InsurTech & DeepTech to meet big business for mutual benefit in a progressive and cohesive ways,” says Marc Hauser, Head of F10.
F10 offers two programmes to startups. The first, designed for early stage, is a five-month incubation programme where founders can confirm market need for their solution and get it to an investment-ready stage. The second is for later-stage startups able to solve problems in areas banks and corporate partners have already voiced an interest.
The goal is to create collaborations (POCs,pilots, and full rollouts). In addition, F10 also supports the fundraising efforts of startups.“The concept is around mutual benefit for startups and corporates by collaborating on ideas and needs and then working to meet the two in the middle. To do this, we have developed a playbook where we first gather their needs, source matching startups and then support the collaboration,” says Hauser. “We also facilitate workshops where we look at how to define and set out things like KPIs, identity common goals and how to access the ecosystem and leverage it to best use. It is all about contacts and meeting the right people and again, we aim to facilitate this for both the corporate and the startups,” says Hauser.
Hauser explains that wealth managers are all worried about finding new customers and keeping them.
“They know there is a massive opportunity to digitize and innovate; they know that they need to provide a better customer experience through automation to make the whole experience more fluid at the front end and more cost-effective and efficient at the back end. What they don’t always have is the technology to do that well,” he says.
He points to rapid digital acceleration in the face of Covid-19 and the need to provide a robust hybrid offering to exceed client expectations and promote engagement. “Wealth managers are now questioning to what extent and frequency face to face is needed- they need to make sure their digital tools can support this newly emergent hybrid model. ”This is especially difficult within the wealth sector. Clients expect high levels of service and to have access to their advisor. Therefore, the advisor needs to be readily available and have easy and quick access to digital tools to support clients in terms of function and access to information and data.
Hauser cites KYC/Onboarding as one area currently subject to a lot of focus and where wealth managers need help. “It is one of the biggest pain points and therefore turn-offs for customers, reliant, as it was, on manual data input often requiring multiple inputs of the same piece of data. It took up a lot of time and energy from both the wealth manager and the client,” he says.
Wealth managers are all worried about finding new customers and keeping them. “They know there is a massive opportunity to digitize and innovate; they know that they need to provide a better customer experience through automation to make the whole experience more fluid at the front end and more cost-effective and efficient at the back end. What they don’t always have is the technology to do that well.
A second trend is the requirement for personalized and tailored advice based on an individual client’s needs and values. “For example, with ESG we have moved very much from an exclusion-based model to one where the wealth manager must meet the customer ahead of time with suggestions and advice that fit. They thus need to be able to access data and information about the client and be able to match that with investment solutions that are tailored to the client’s causes and interest as well as fitting in with other traditional parameters like risk and goals. ”The same is true of newer investment types such as blockchain and other digitized assets. Clients want advice over a channel of their choosing and at a time of their choosing. Advisors have to respond to that – thus, they need the cutting-edge solutions that FinTechs can provide. “The overall trend is one where things are becoming decentralized. Instead, we are looking at an API-enabled ecosystem where the interrelations between various elements are more complex but also made more relatable and visible,” he says.
Collaboration between banks and startups through organizations like F10 is essential to speed-up innovation, widen the perspective and learn faster. “Wealth managers know that they need to work with FinTech, they know that a change in culture to embrace collaboration for transformative effect is required,” he says.“The best approach to make innovation happen is to start with the client need. This accelerates the collaboration and provides the required urgency to move ahead. Based on these clear goals and KPIs helps to ensure progress towards the common goal. Our experience at F10 in this area makes more of those early projects successful,” he says.
Hauser says that this change in culture towards innovation and collaboration is getting more momentum and that he sees an accelerating effect triggered by the Covid situation. “It will enable wealth managers to keep up with ever-changing client expectations and respond to them.” An agile mindset and the ability to fail quickly, learn from that and get back up again is key. This can be contrasted with the traditional model where something needed to be complete before it was tested and then it was back to square one when user adoption was not coming.
“Having a more experimental model means that things are quicker to market. The advent of FinTech’s with solutions that can be altered and changed to fit the needs of a big corporate is really helpful in this context. It is a change of culture where perfection is not expected. Instead, it is experimental in a fast-moving and changing market. Our aim is to provide the space for that to happen,” he says.