A global organization with presence in over 20 countries, including India, Fidelity International has been providing world class investment solutions and retirement expertise for institutions, individuals and their advisors - to help global clients make a comfortable future for themselves and generations to come.

In conversation with Babu Thiagarajan, Country General Manager and Head of Technology, Fidelity International India

Financial technology is the intersection between financial services and new technologies with the goal of improving existing products and services. How has Fidelity International leveraged the potential of financial technology to serve a bigger objective of customer satisfaction?

Fidelity has always been at the forefront of leveraging new and emerging technologies in a way that benefits our customers without compromising the trust they place in us. Increasingly our clients want and expect to invest digitally, and we provide a wide range of innovative digital solutions to help them achieve their financial goals in a simple and cost-effective way. For instance, for end investors and their advisors, we have developed digital solutions across the whole of the customer lifecycle, from prospect acquisition to understanding client needs; proposing solutions; explaining our products, implementation of the solution for the client and enabling the client and their advisor to monitor their investments.

We have been able to deliver such engaging experiences for our customers by leveraging both contemporary and emerging technologies such AI/ ML, Big Data etc., throughout our investment management process.

Our access to Financial Technology capabilities has also strengthened by working with Eight Roads, FIL’s proprietary investment arm. Eight Roads’ new Fintech Strategic Investments (FSI) team has been able to introduce us to companies reaching out to customers in new markets; this helps deepen our capabilities and automate our processes. For example, the FSI team recently invested USD 4.5 million in Indian start-up, Kuvera, a tech-based wealth management platform. This helps us to share mutual expertise and help on product and technology development.

How is Fidelity helping client build a better future through your investment solutions and retirement expertise?

At Fidelity International, helping clients to save for retirement and other long-term investing objectives has been at the core of our business for nearly 50 years. Fidelity’s market and customer research has shown that around the world, investors often struggle to understand, plan, and best align the wide range of available investment options to their own specific financial needs, lacking the confidence to act.

To address this, Fidelity has developed a modern, digital-first Wealth Management service, called Fidelity Wealth Expert, the first such service launched in Germany in October 2018. This offers regulated advice and discretionary investment management services at a fraction of the cost of traditional Wealth Management services. The service has been built in a flexible, modular fashion, enabling Fidelity to launch platforms in several different countries as well as working with selected industry partners to power services for their clients.

Wealth Expert provides digital advice and ongoing discretionary investment management services to customers who recognize the value and benefit of using professionals to construct and manage their investment portfolio on an ongoing basis in line with their objectives. Having set their own investment goal, and completed an online fact find, including their personal financial circumstances and attitude to risk, customers receive a personal recommendation to invest into a risk-graded model portfolio provided by the Fidelity’s Multi-Asset team.

"At Fidelity International, helping clients to save for retirement and other long-term investing objectives has been at the core."

Fidelity must be a treasure chest of successful implementation stories. Please narrate one that is close to the organization’s heart.

Implementing Fidelity Wealth Expert is one such recent success. However, there are quite a few that we are very proud of. To quote a few areas:

Implementing a range of AI and advanced data analytics techniques that identify unique insights to generate better alpha for our customers.

Automating current manual processes using a broad spectrum of technologies - user journey analytics, last-mile automation using RPA, customer service workload prediction, sentiment analytics, etc. to increase responsiveness to our customers.

We have gone one step further than pure-play technology companies, and start-ups when it comes to engineering solutions capable of production deployment multiple times a day. We have engineered and implemented 100 percent cloud native solutions built on continuous deployment philosophy to production without any down time following the model of microservices & DevSecOps.

Where is Fidelity headed in the years to come?

Recognizing that our customers’ needs will continue to shift, we will continue investing in creating new streams of value for our customers. Our new Systematic Investment Solutions that leverage emerging technologies and themes like Sustainable Investing [built around ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) topics] will continue to grow and evolve.

An important part of our strategy is to continue to invest in exceptional talent. Our vibrant, open, collaborative culture enables our employees to continuously elevate their existing capabilities and in parallel invest in creating new capabilities to deliver outstanding outcomes for our customers. To avoid being insular and to stay in step, or even ahead of emerging capabilities, we have also invested in building strong connects into the external ecosystems. For instance, we have established a formal research partnership with premier institutions like IIT -Delhi, and incubation engagements with specialist startups and incubators.

With this ambition, our goal is to continue being a trusted brand for our customers and being an inclusive employer of choice that attracts and retains high performance high impact talent.

Please note the article was originally published in CIO Insider in August 2019.

The opinions expressed are author's own. Fidelity International is not responsible for the author's opinions.