Managing Asia’s wealth boom

Asset and wealth managers seek to close the gap between high tech and high touch for clients. Many are relatively young, and their high assets are recent.


The digital revolution has come to the Asian financial services sector. While many industries in Asia leaped into an online future, financial services have lagged—until recently.

Korn Ferry has found, in a new study, that Asia’s asset and wealth managers are getting pulled in multiple directions as they look for digital solutions to better serve their clients, from sovereign funds and institutions to individual investors. Consumer banks are launching mobile banking to facilitate mutual fund purchases. Wealth and asset management firms are looking at digital delivery of information and investor education to bolster conversations between advisors and clients.

“Digital inroads are being made across the sector,” said Serina Wong, global sector leader, Wealth Management, and Asia Pacific sector leader, Asset Management, for Korn Ferry. “It is altering asset management and wealth management—key sectors with well-established players.”

As these elite clients grow more comfortable with online platforms and digital tools, private banks and wealth advisors are striving to strike the right balance in serving the region’s booming wealth. Many of these high-net-worth individuals are relatively young, and their wealth, too, is recent. Serving their needs likely will include extensive, personal attention as well as digitally delivered education and information on their many investment options.

Further, as technology advances into Asian financial services, the question becomes how new digital tools can augment the human-delivered services that enhance risk management, facilitate market discussions, and deliver information and education to investors. The consensus in Asia is that digital strategies will vary. There also are challenges inherent in applying technology; for example, the rules and regulations that limit the purchase of funds via online channels differ from country to country. “What we’re seeing among clients is the emergence of an ‘omni-channel’ approach,” Wong said. “Firms are seeking the right mix of high touch and high tech.”

As financial services in Asia become more digital, another challenge for asset and wealth management firms is how to attract tech-savvy talent who can seize the opportunities presented by digital transformation, while also identifying those within asset management firms who have the tech aptitude to be part of new digital initiatives. Firms that gain an edge will be those that become proactive in their talent acquisition strategies in order to obtain the expertise needed to thrive in the digital revolution.

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