As part of the MEA Finance Magazine's LEADERS IN BANKING TECHNOLOGY special feature, Thomas Schornstein, Head of Middle East Business and Member of the Executive Board of additiv, describes his journey in wealth management technology and why now is the perfect time for it to enhance business performance.
What excites you and keeps you motivated as a regional leader in banking technology?
After over 20 years in wealth management, it is exciting to be part of this fundamental shift in the client service model in the financial service industry. Although digital readiness from clients is increasing very rapidly and client behavioural patterns from online retail have found their way into the financial service industry, not every digital solution is a success. Traditional values as trust, privacy and service quality still play an important role. My fascination is how to bring these elements – state of art technology and expertise in banking together. For payment services and pure brokerage this has been largely achieved, but there is still the gap when it comes to wealth management. This is an area where I think I could create a lot of value.
Describe your journey in banking technology and how this has influenced the role you are in today?
My roots are in international wealth management for HNWI clients. After three years on the technology side and involvement in numerous client projects I have learned one important lesson, there is no “one size fits all” solution. The key success drivers of the actual business model must be analysed carefully before a digital journey can be defined. Any digitization project is only as good as its commercial success at the end of the day. If you do not have a viable sourcing channel for new clients today, it is a wrong assumption that a digital journey will solve this problem easily. On the other hand, if you are gifted with high number of existing clients already using some digital services, it is more likely that an additional digital offer will be accepted and will contribute significantly to your income.
What does your company bring to the banking and financial sector that helps it advance levels of service and remain profitable?
At additiv, all our products utilize Digital Finance Suite (DFS®), which is purely specialized for the digitization of the wealth and investment journey. DFS® is a single platform with the agility to adapt to changing needs and the intelligence to deliver personalization, at scale. It makes an ongoing digital roadmap operable.
Our DFS® platform is an intelligent system, dynamically responding to changes, interacting with clients and internal users according to their individual needs. With DFS®, banks have the intelligence to maximize customer engagement according to the individual business and technology strategies, increasing up-sales and cross-sales opportunities and boosting retention rates.
Our approach also ensures that adapting to future changes is easy and avoids the need for big and costly ‘start-from-scratch projects’. This frees up a bank’s own internal resources to create unique product offerings. And, because DFS® is available in the cloud or as a hybrid cloud setup through Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), banks can also benefit from the cost efficiencies associated with cloud deployment.
In the light of the past turbulent year, what are your plans for 2021?
One of the most important pillars of additiv’s global expansion strategy is the Middle East. We see a unique combination of banks and their clients with readiness for our services; a sign that true digitalization is now essential. Our products, platform and roadmap enable banks to adapt to this need and beyond.
Our aim is to have at least one system up and running with a sizeable market player in every important country in the Middle East as reference case, as we have within Europe and Asia. To support this, we plan to set up new offices here, on the back of client successes, expanding on our already established DIFC office in Dubai and locations throughout Europe and Asia.