• Transform magazine
  • October 25, 2021


Opinion: Can digital disruption help reinvent professional services?


With digital transformation ripping through most industries, professional services brands are no longer exempt. The trigger is a new breed of client who, having made their millions in tech, are asking themselves why their professional advisers – lawyers, accountants, bankers and wealth managers – are stuck in ‘analogue’ mode.

Digital disruption is being felt beyond retailing, high street banking and taxi hailing. It is now impacting the professional classes.

McKinsey forecasts that robots will replace 800m jobs by 2030, while EY’s analysis of digital disruption in the wealth management sector highlights that many high net worth entrepreneurs would gladly swap having a wealth relationship manager in exchange for enhanced digital platforms.

Meanwhile, a recent competition run by legal Artificial Intelligence platform LawGeex, in consultation with law professors from Stanford University, Duke University School of Law and the University of Southern California pitted 20 experienced human lawyers against an AI system trained to evaluate legal contracts. They all read a series of non-disclosure agreements with deliberate loopholes included. The results showed the humans achieved an accuracy rate of 85% and the AI 95%. The humans took an average of 92 minutes to complete the task, the AI 26 seconds.

Our own work in wealth management indicates that private banks that have thrived on traditional skills and brand heritage in the past, are constrained by dated business models and legacy technologies.

Agile fintechs and Silicon Valley giants are already cherrypicking high value services reshaping the wider wealth management playing field. The same is true in investment banking and legal services, where the low cost of accurate AI due diligence is just the tip of the iceberg.

How can branding help in the digital transformation? Good branding is about defining and articulating purpose – the reason an organisation exists. Every vision and mission must align with this, so, in a real-time connected world, if your purpose is not defined and articulated with clarity, how can you expect to achieve your strategic goals?

A disciplined branding methodology engages and motivates leadership teams in a rigorous process that is highly valuable during periods of transformational change.

And, since today’s disruptors are applying creativity and user experience design to bring their challenger brands to life, incumbents must also up their game and deliver world-class digital services to meet current and future demands.

Crédit Agricole Private Banking Services' (CAPBS) recently repositioned its brand in a bid to reframe its digital offering as an independent provider of core banking technology and business process outsourcing (BPO) services. CAPBS is a subsidiary of Indosuez Wealth Management, the global wealth management business of Crédit Agricole Group. The leadership team identified that all private banks and wealth managers face similar digital transformation challenges.

The aim, therefore, was to offer the company’s best-of-breed, end-to-end private banking platform, S2i, as a fully managed service, either as software as a service (SaaS) or as a BPO solution. In so doing they could liberate their clients to focus on customising differentiating products and personalising front-end user experiences.

However, in order to be recognised as a transformation partner for global wealth managers, the business had to first undertake its own transformation.

Taking a cue from its parent, Indosuez Wealth Management, which had undergone its own brand transformation in 2015, CAPBS redefined its value proposition, renamed the business and positioned the new brand as an independent partner for wealth managers needing digital transformation.

Following in-depth research with all stakeholders, ‘partners for tomorrow’s wealth managers’ became the foundation for a new service offering. This was designed around its core services to address the needs of digital transformation.

This led to the creation of the new name, Azqore, which was announced in July 2018, with ‘Az’ referring to the end-to-end service offering and ‘qore’ referencing the S2i core banking platform.

The unprecedented disruption that is beginning to impact professional services should be seen as a spur to action and an opportunity for reinvention.

By recognising the key disruptive factors and repositioning professional services businesses with the right technologies, professional advisory firms – like private banks – can focus on what they do best: guiding and advising their clients through changing times.

Peter Matthews is the founder and CEO of brand consultancy Nucleus