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Morgan Stanley launches robo-advisor to attract young investors

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Morgan Stanley has announced a new “robo-advisor” service to help young investors get started with small portfolios.

As Computer Business Review reports, the robo-advisor is tailored specifically towards younger investors who have “less complex needs.” It comes with a 0.35% advisory fee that’s designed to reflect its aims of helping new investors manage their first portfolios.

Built entirely inhouse by Morgan Stanley, the fully automated system is available online and comes with several customization options.

Automated investment

Robo-advising is set to become much more common over the next few years, making it easier for new investors to get started. Increasing amounts of wealth will be overseen by digital agents, with Business Insider predicting the figure will reach $4.6 trillion by 2022.

By launching its own service with a specific target audience, Morgan Stanley also positions itself to remain relevant as robo-advising becomes more prolific.

In the near-term, technological and human advisers are likely to coalesce to deliver more timely information to investors. An investor might retain traditional advice options for when they need to make major financial decisions or engage with large portfolios. Robo-advisers will allow investors to get real-time details using a smartphone, enabling more rapid responses to changes in their portfolio.

The introduction of digital assistance services could make investment more efficient and allow participants to create higher returns. This will eventually lead investors back to companies like Morgan Stanley, seeking advice on how to manage increasingly complex portfolios. Morgan Stanley’s new robo-advisor is designed to step towards this scenario, where the use of digital tech brings about new opportunities for investors and financial providers.

Socially-responsible portfolios

The service requires a $5,000 starting investment, which Morgan Stanley believes will be accessible to young people interested in seriously investing. Users can follow the service’s advice to invest in specially-designed portfolios, including options built around sustainability and emerging technology. The company hopes the seven themed portfolios will have enough appeal to attract investors by matching their interests.

Morgan Stanley intends the service to diversify its client base by allowing it to reach young customers sooner. People who start to accumulate wealth through the robo-advisor will be able to transfer to the company’s main advisory services.

The program will allow investors to start small, learning how to make decisions by engaging with socially responsible portfolios. As their needs become more complex, Morgan Stanley will be prepared to sell its more lucrative advice services. The strategy lets the company access a new demographic by using digital technology to upsell young clients to more expensive services.

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81% of banking executives would look to collaboration for digital transformation

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According to Finextra’s The Future of Payments 2019 report, it’s been “the year of digital transformation for legacy-era brick-and-mortar banking giants.”

And collaboration is overwhelming the favored path to get there.

At EBADay, hosted by Finextra in association with the EBA, it was reported that 81% of banking executives would seek to collaborate with partners to better, more successfully execute digital transformation. 

 

While collaboration was the clearly-favored choice, some respondents did choose options for digital transformation that either kept the process in-house, or completely outsource it:

  • 8% would build a new operating layer on their own
  • 6% would outsource processes
  • 5% would create a new bank “on the side”

When asked to describe digital transformation (DX), 55% said that it means fully changing an institution’s fabric. For others, DX means:

  • Offering more innovative products while reducing costs (20%)
  • Replacing and renewing the core banking operating system (13%) 
  • Offering digital channels such as mobile (12%)

Thanks to consumer demand, banks have been forced to step up and introduce new products and services that leverage current and emerging technologies — all in the name of giving customers better choice. 

As it stands, customers of the retail banks are able to deposit cheques, transfer funds, and apply for loans via their smartphones. 

“This collaborative attitude underscores how the rise of digital banking may not need to be an all-out competition between incumbents and startups,” explains Business Insider, “and may even tilt the scales in the direction of collaboration.”

And it looks like it’s already been happening: Lloyds found that 48% of financial services they polled said they have completed acquisition deals for fintech firms, or have taken a minority or majority stake in them. 

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Why private label banking apps and products are on the rise

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Private labeling has long been a pervasive strategy in retail, where products are made by third party manufacturers and sold under a retailer’s name. The cost to manufacture is often much lower than reselling another brand name, resulting in higher margins and increased revenue for sellers.

Retailers who implement this strategy also maintain wholesale control of the brand, including packaging and pricing, which generates product exclusivity as well as promotes customer recognition of and loyalty to the brand.

Possibly the biggest benefit of private labels, however, is that they eliminate the pains of having to design and build a new product — especially when entering a new market. By outsourcing the entire process and leaving those details to the experts, sellers can instead focus on what they excel at: branding and marketing the finished product.

Because the benefits of this strategy are so multifaceted, it’s no wonder private labeling is moving beyond consumer goods and gaining traction in service-based industries. Businesses looking to develop new offerings and product functionalities can now easily outsource entire technology stacks and tedious regulatory administration.

As tech giants like Apple, Amazon, and Google deepen their financial services plays, banking and personal finance tools have become a prime opportunity for fintechs and smaller firms to leverage private labeling to compete, and for established players to unlock new revenue streams.

Here’s a look inside how private labeling is transforming the banking industry— and which products are on the rise.

What is white label banking?

White label banking is another term for private label banking or banking-as-a-service (BaaS), in which banks open up their application program interfaces (APIs) to let third parties build their own financial products with existing infrastructure. White label banking accelerates the builder’s go-to-market strategy by removing regulatory, legal, and technical obstacles.

White label banking services

White label banking services enable fintechs and third parties to showcase a sleek, company-branded frontend, while leveraging an established bank’s license, regulatory compliance, and technology on the backend to offer core banking features that rival major institutions’.

Common white label banking services include:

  • Savings and checking accounts
  • Current accounts
  • Debit and credit cards
  • Simplified bill payments
  • Online payment transfer systems
  • Personal loans
  • Mortgages
  • Insurance
  • Bank statements with transaction details
  • Balance notifications

White label banking apps

Some examples of mobile banking apps built with white label features include:

  • ADIB
  • Albaraka Mobil
  • Azlo
  • Börse Stuttgart App
  • Chime
  • Compte CO2
  • Digit
  • Dozens
  • Knotist business banking
  • MoneyLion
  • Nationwide Mobile
  • Qapital
  • Qonto
  • Score Kompass
  • Simple
  • Spendesk
  • Stash
  • Tomorrow
  • Trade Republic
  • Van Lanschot
  • Vitesse Mobile
  • Xero Accounting & Invoices

Future of white label banking services

Across industries, digital technologies are democratizing information to spur more competition and innovation. Because of this, the trend towards “open access” will only become more pervasive. In the banking industry, particularly, the open banking movement has been unfurling from its epicenter in the UK and stretching across the globe for the past few years.

White label banking and BaaS technology are no longer brand new technologies in the industry, but firms that get involved now will still be ahead of the curve by the time regulation becomes mainstream. The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority has already enrolled the nine biggest banks and building societies in its Open Banking Directory, and others are coming soon. After that, it won’t be long before other countries follow suit with their own regulations.

Per Accenture estimates, €61 billion ($70 billion) or 7% of total banking revenue in Europe will be associated with open banking-enabled activities by 2020. Incumbent banks around the world that invest in open banking platforms now – before it’s mandated – will be rewarded with new revenue streams, an early boost in demand, partnerships with tech-savvy fintechs, and an overall competitive advantage against newcomers in the space.

To stay ahead of trends like white label banking, Business Insider Intelligence is launching a Banking coverage area in September. Tailored for top decision-makers in the financial services industry, this vertical covers digital transformation across the industry, including open banking and BaaS, consumer and business banking, mobile and online banking, digital account opening, and neobanks.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider and is reprinted with permission. To read the original article, visit this link.

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Measures to put the digital transformation of banks back on track

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Banks were doing well with digital transformation in the early stages, but the deployment of digital banking transformation is slowing down as things move from IT departments to other parts of the organization, according to a new survey.

The survey from the Digital Banking Report indicates the second wave of digital banking, where technologies are being rolled out across departments, is not keeping pace with the first phase where technologies are selected and on-boarded.

As the report notes, cultural factors are the culprit impeding digital transformation and the solution is to use cross-functional teams to breakdown legacy silo perspectives.

Digital technologies to change the customer experience

While technologies such as artificial intelligence and automation are being applied across organizations, the next phases are likely to include greater use of cloud, analytics and blockchain to assist with data gathering and assessment. In addition, both the Internet of Things and augmented reality are being called out as technologies that will change customer experience.

Getting this right is important, since almost all of the banks surveyed said they were increasing the range of different digital technologies.

Four pillars for DX success

While cultural factors and indecisive leadership are presenting obstacles to digital transformation, there are measures that banks can put in place to help keep their digital strategies on track. For banks to be successful with digital transformation, the Boston Consulting Group recommends they focus on four priorities (what they term as pillars), including:

  1. Reinvent the consumer journey, using the example of how banks can become more like Amazon.
  2. Leverage the power of data. This includes looking at how data analytics can enable banks and credit unions to best understand consumers, plus to identify business opportunities and lower costs.
  3. Redefine the operating model. This involves striking the right balance between human interaction and digital and self-service functionality for consumers.
  4. Build a digital driven organization. Here digital needs to be seen as the new norm. To do this banks need to recruit the right talent, discover agile ways of working and construct an organizational culture that is willing and able to take risks.

Some banks have been successful with digital transformation. As an example, analysts at Forester single out BBVA, the Spanish bank, for balancing functionality and enjoyable user experience whilst maintaining the necessary security checks.

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