Wealth management is a skill and one for which the high earners of the world will happily pay a premium. businesses that specialise in wealth management can help their clients grow their portfolio and guarantee returns – but changes to the industry are beginning to rock the boat.

Wealth management businesses can operate globally, thanks to dedicated experts within their field and close alliances and international consultancies regarding international policy. But there is an existential threat facing the sector, which has brought about two key challenges. Here are those challenges, and how a firm may seek to overcome them.

Tech-Led Competition

The principal driver behind modern challenges facing international wealth management is the recent explosion in consumer-facing fintech solutions. Retail trading platforms and alternative banking apps have enjoyed immense popularity in recent years, inspiring significant investment in the last year especially.

The growth in accessible investor platforms should be a boon for the wealth management industry, as more and more consumers engage with new forms of savings and investment – increasing the client pool and giving wealth management enterprises more chances to expand. However, emergent platforms are having the opposite effect on the market.

The accessibility of app-led fintech platforms enables individual users to retain more direct control of their finances than ever before. Users can buy and sell shares and currencies, transfer wealth and access investment pools in hitherto impossible ways, without the “middleman” of a wealth management broker to handle transactions on their behalf.

Undercutting of Fees

Not only do these alternative wealth management solutions offer unprecedented access to international markets, as well as fine control over the specifics of user portfolios, but they also present these options at a much cheaper cost to the user. Transaction fees and interest rates are highly competitive against the not-insignificant fees associated with retaining the professional services of an adviser or broker.

Of course, the overall ‘cost’ to users of platforms such as these is much higher. a lack of in-depth knowledge of international markets, and a tendency for users to ‘gamble’ as opposed to invest, lead the majority of retail investors to lose money as opposed to grow their wealth. But this truth is poorly communicated, as devolved control over wealth management is advertised as a positive as opposed to a negative.

How to Combat a Changing Market

Luckily, the retail investor demographic has a relatively narrow crossover into the client demographic sought by wealth managers. The real dangers come from the tech-led utility of certain platforms and institutions, that may pry shrewd high-value customers away from wealth management services and towards self-directed platforms and strategies.

The major USP of wealth management firms currently is that of the personal touch; apps and platforms can only learn so much about a user and their motivations, and they are motivated to extract money as opposed to grow portfolios. As such, a wealth management firm can reposition itself as a business uniquely placed to put customers first; to be there on the phone, and to talk through options directly.