COVID-19 and the ‘the art of the possible’

COVID-19 and the ‘the art of the possible’

COVID-19 has shown us ‘the art of the possible’, and that when needed, tech implementation can be quick and effective.

Technology is crucial to organisational growth and competitiveness. Even before the current COVID-19 crisis investment managers had widely forecast 2020 as the year where the industry will invest even more heavily in technology. Indeed recent and continuing events have proved technology as an enabler and at the forefront of operational success, resilience and consumer experience.

At the IA, our recent webinar on ‘strategies to minimise business disruption when implementing new digital solutions’ highlighted the need to continually identify market opportunity together with a proven business case. Innovation is critical to improving efficiency and dealing with new challenges but the reality is this is actually becoming more difficult as greater research is required to deliver the same productivity of 50 years ago. 

As an industry we have used ‘complexity’ as a barrier to tech adoption. But often the largest hurdle is attitude not finance or even information security! So what can we do? How can we improve tech adoption? 

What COVID-19 has shown us is ‘the art of the possible’ and that when NEEDED, tech implementation can be quick and effective. The relationship between FinTech and traditional financial institutions over the last few years has morphed from competition to collaboration, but has struggled with a lack of agility and ability to partner or co-create solutions effectively, as well as importantly the cultural fit. We have an opportunity now to drive a culture of digitisation and adoption creating a truly innovative environment. 

And that is why this week I am delighted the IA is unveiling Engine, the new name for our FinTech offering that is continuing to move from strength to strength. Engine is fitting of our ambition to drive broader adoption of new technologies across investment management, and will continue to act as a catalyst for industry innovation, bringing together buy-side focused tech solutions addressing current and future business needs.

Organically, we have seen other catalytic factors, such as an increase in trading volumes, developments in regulation, and significant amendments in working practices that technology can and has solved. Whether it is leveraging data and AI, or the use of deep-learning technologies and the cloud, technology is crucially important as we look to future-proof our sector. 

Change is always disruptive and questions ‘the way it has always been done’. But surely change is preferred to an inability to meet evolving consumer needs? What is needed now is clear; a strong and defined business requirement, focused and supportive executive sponsorship, and an understanding of expectations for a collaborative and fair approach. By driving the tech agenda, the investment management industry will be able to not only survive, but indeed thrive during these uncertain times.  

  • Gillian Painter, Head of Membership & Velocity The Investment Association

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