Credit Suisse gets agile for iPad-based private banking app

Private banks are forced to adopt technology to fend off new banks and technology companies taking traditional banks' market share

Credit Suisse has launched an iPad private banking app in its Singapore-based business. 

It will be extended to other devices, including the Apple iPhone, web browsers, and devices operating on Google Android in the future.

“Digital technology is rapidly changing the way people use financial services,” said Hans-Ulrich Meister head of private banking and wealth management at the bank. 

“They are increasingly using digital channels to contact their banks, execute trades and purchase financial products. As a leading global wealth manager, we are making significant investments in digital technology to capture this opportunity and deepen the relationship with our current and next generation of private banking clients.”

Credit Suisse Private Banking app will include features to enable customers to see overviews of the performance of investments, see research and news, collaborate with other private banking clients and even trade, among other things.

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Technology disrupts traditional banking

Technology companies are moving into banking, offering payment and information enrichment services. These companies have modern technology and agile development techniques engrained in their cultures. And as new banks and IT suppliers attempt to eat into the market share of retail banks, private banks are also being forced to adopt new technology and development methods to fend them off.

Francois Monnet, COO of private banking Asia Pacific at Credit Suisse said: “Developing the digital private banking platform in less than a year, the team embraced a completely new delivery model, inspired by successful technology companies, adopting a much more agile approach to developing banking technology solutions. 

"We constantly prioritised and refined the product development process listening to feedback from our clients and colleagues, then launching new functionality releases in short cycles, often delivering working software every two weeks. This incremental approach allows us to constantly test and improve the features and continually enhance the capabilities and functionalities going forward.”

Wealth managers an endangered species

According to a report Capgemini published in 2014, 82% of high net worth individuals in Asia Pacific expect their wealth management relationship to be conducted entirely or mostly through digital channels; and 83% are more likely to leave wealth management firms that cannot offer an integrated digital and direct channel experience.

But one banking source said wealth management is a shrinking industry, in part as a result of technology that makes it easier to manage money. “At the moment there is still a market for wealthy busy people who don't have the time or motivation to manage their own money and want the personal touch. However, the younger generation is more tech-savvy and open to wealth management services that don't need face-to-face discussions. So I expect it will be a shrinking market and become very niche in the foreseeable future.”

He said the cost of providing a personal service, with wealth managers in expensive offices, along with the risks around giving advice are not a good combination. “As returns have been harder to achieve in recent years and markets have been volatile, a client can end up paying a lot in costs and also losing money on their investments. Not a good conversation when a client shows up for a portfolio review and is presented with a bill as well as a loss on investments.”

“Wealth management/private banking will increasingly become an IT game with less personal contact. With the recent rise of the internet, it is much easier for anyone to find out about potential investments whereas 20 years ago you really only had newspapers, monthly magazines or your bank/stockbroker. Their monopoly on access to market information has gone, so I don't expect they will last too long.”

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