Supplements » FundTech Autumn 2018

EDITORIAL: Keeping it real

Nicholas_PrattFootball managers are in the “results business”. Then again, who isn’t? Certainly not asset managers, who are judged on the size of their returns rather than how well they wear a bow tie – most of the time, at least.

The same can be said of asset managers’ experiments with new technology. Firms are being applauded for finally embracing technology – appointing chief digital officers, launching AI funds, opening fintech accelerators or piloting blockchain proof of concepts.

But the time will soon come where these projects will have to show some results – the AI funds will need to outperform normal-intelligence funds, the incubated fintechs will need to blossom into full-grown services and the proof of concepts will need to become fully operational.

The pressure is evident in other areas of the market. Fintechs that targeted the incumbent private wealth managers are withdrawing from the market – it turns out high-net-worth investors have as much appetite for robo-advisers as the rest of us do for call centres.

The funds industry is sometimes criticised for being too cynical towards new technology and not learning the value of failure – an essential ingredient in Silicon Valley, apparently. However, a preference for real and tangible results and not just high concepts has its place.

Nicholas Pratt is technology & operations editor at Funds Europe

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