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COVID-19: Critical tools for wealth managers

Joseph Mrak
Joseph Mrak
Global Head of Wealth Management, Refinitiv

Wealth managers under pressure from COVID-19 and market volatility must provide clients with fast, accurate decisions, untainted by fear or uncertainty. How are #DigiWealth tools helping them see the bigger picture and also achieve operational stability?

  1. Wealth managers are dealing with unprecedented levels of market volatility, as shown by the record trading volumes on Refinitiv’s BETA platform.
  2. Reliable data is crucial for wealth managers to gauge investor perceptions, measure market cognition, and make informed decisions swiftly for their clients.
  3. Wealth managers also need to ensure they have the digital tools to maintain and build client relationships, while remote working has become the new normal.

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As global markets reel from the combined effects of fear surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and the oil price slump, among other factors, volatility has reached record levels – and the ripple effects are impacting markets, investors, and wealth managers alike.

Statistics from Refinitiv’s BETA platform — our comprehensive brokerage processing solution — point (unsurprisingly) to record trading volumes in recent weeks and months.

February and March have seen record breaking BETA volumes with the platform recording several new transaction processing records and the average number of transactions per day in March topping the BETA daily all-time record prior to February.

If we compare the March 2020 BETA volumes to the same period last year, we see an almost 300 percent increase in trading volume, representing nearly $1 trillion more in value, for a total of $1.65 trillion transacted through the BETA platform in March.

The graph below shows the total daily transaction volumes on the BETA platform going back to 2001, with a notable increase in daily volumes since the start of 2020 as the impacts of COVID-19 spread globally.

Volatility at such unprecedented levels brings risk, fear, uncertainty and often panic, but there is one area that wealth managers can rely on in turbulent times: trusted data.

The critical value of data and insights

During periods of intense volatility, the crucial role of reliable and complete data cannot be overemphasized.

When markets are moving swiftly, wealth managers need to be able to gauge investor perceptions, measure market cognition, and make informed decisions with speed and accuracy.

In Refinitiv’s Transformation of Wealth Management report, 61 percent of respondents viewed analytics and creating insights from data as “very important” and 39 percent as “important” for their firms in order to serve clients more holistically, which is now more critical than ever.

Transformation of Wealth Management Report. COVID-19: Critical tools for wealth managers

This is where trusted data, enhanced by critical insights, becomes invaluable.

It allows the formation of a truly holistic view, and can help managers to make informed decisions that are not based on fear or influenced by uncertainty.

For example, Refinitiv’s MarketPsych Indices offer easy-to-interpret, real-time analytics across news and social media, allowing wealth managers to spot patterns and trends immediately, rather than in hindsight.

Refinitiv MarketPsych.COVID-19: Critical tools for wealth managers

By combining rich and diverse content with a deep understanding of how the mood, perceptions, and concerns of market participants influence prices, our indices are able to deliver meaningful insights that in turn drive more profitable decisions.

Advice for wealth managers

In addition to robust and reliable data, wealth managers navigating periods of heightened uncertainty and volatility should ensure that they have efficient systems and processes in place.

Operational stability and efficiency are essential if firms are to keep pace when transaction volumes are high.

Client-facing advisors in particular need access to the technology and tools that will allow them to view and manage portfolios holistically; access relevant data and insights; execute bulk trades where necessary; and make investment decisions quickly and efficiently.

Transformation of Wealth Management Report. COVID-19: Critical tools for wealth managers

Digital tools, capabilities and engagement are of particular relevance in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, where remote working has become the new normal.

These digital tools enable managers to maintain client relationships despite an inability to hold face-to-face meetings, and will become an ever-more-valuable resource to ensure that clients benefit from personal attention and uninterrupted service.

Maximizing opportunities for clients

That being said, the Transformation of Wealth Management Report found that the industry is still in the early stages of digital transformation.

Transformation of Wealth Management Report. COVID-19: Critical tools for wealth managers

Some 46 percent of respondents were only partially satisfied or not at all satisfied with their current digital offerings, which indicates a large proportion of wealth managers may not have the digital capabilities needed to fully support clients.

The powerful combination of these key elements: reliable data and insights; efficient back office operations; and digitally-powered front office engagement tools will allow wealth managers to remain effective.

They will also continue to make sound decisions to mitigate risk and maximize opportunity for clients, despite the unprecedented volatility characterizing markets across the globe.

Register for the webinar: Navigating Wealth Trends in Times of Uncertainty

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