Changing trends in wealth management
Radomir Mastalerz began his career as an EY analyst and software developer in financial risk management in 2008. He’s held several positions in the financial services industry, including Deloitte and UBS London. However, for the past decade, as the executive at WealthArc, Mastalerz has been leading the digitisation of family offices in Switzerland, helping many of them switch from traditional spreadsheets to digital systems for the first time.
The need for digitisation
The 2008 financial crisis marked the mainstreaming of alternative assets into traditional wealth portfolios. Fast forward to more recent times, with many comparisons drawn between the 2008 and 2022 economic downturns, insulating wealth from macroeconomic conditions means further flight into alternatives for family offices.
According to a Goldman Sachs Report, family offices’ asset allocation tends to have outsized exposure to alternative investments. The report further explains that, on average, wealthy families’ portfolios have a 45% combined allocation to private equity, real estate, private credit, and hedge funds.
While the diversification strategy is effective, keeping track of everything with legacy systems is difficult. As Mastalerz points out, “At the beginning of our journey, many family offices believed Excel was fully sufficient for their needs. Today, investments are even more diversified, with a growing share of alternative assets.”
Common challenges most family offices face
For most family offices, the pain of managing diversified investment portfolios lies in gathering and consolidating data. For example, dealing with several financial services institutions means logging in and out of different systems. Similarly, managing real estate in different jurisdictions can present its own set of challenges.
“WealthArc learned that each family office is different, with different goals and investment strategies,” says Mastalerz, “Nevertheless, most of them share the same operational challenge – managing investment data and ensuring it’s accurate.”
Attempting to consolidate all the data using Excel or generic software systems is often not feasible. Creating reports takes a considerable amount of effort, number crunching and time. Given the many data sources involved, ensuring accuracy and efficiency requires modern software solutions.
Best practices for adopting new software
Mastalerz maintains that digitalisation is a process that will never end, adding that “there is always more to be done to automate work further and digitalise a family office.” However, it’s better to stick to best practices for implementing a successful tech rollout.
Firstly, offices must identify needs and set clear objectives before starting a new selection process for a software provider. Clear objectives not only help manage expectations internally, but it’s a great way to measure if a software provider is compatible.
Secondly, offices must allocate internal resources. That includes appointing key personnel within the office to manage the selection process and RFPs. Based on the replies from vendors, the office shortlists most prospective vendors and does deep-dive meetings to make a final decision.
Once a contract with a new software provider is signed, the onboarding plan is prepared. That might include data migrations, integration with existing systems and custom development. Additionally, the software vendor should conduct training sessions to ensure that the family office is well-versed in all the platform features.
Looking ahead and advice to family offices
Evolutions are ongoing for family office wealth management software as AI becomes more prevalent and family offices continue to digitise, with the potential to create far more accessible data access and analysis.
“WealthArc is working on a “chat with your data” concept, where you would be able to ask any question in natural language regarding your investments and their performance,” says Mastalerz.
From his professional perspective, he reckons AI tools will support decision-making in investment selection and risk management. He further elaborates that it will automate the work of tax advisors, lawyers, or analysts. That is because finding and synthesising information is becoming much easier with the help of large language models.
“AI is a sophisticated tool that allows us to solve various problems, not a goal itself,” says Mastalerz in terms of advice to family offices, “First, think about what problem you would like to solve, and then assess if AI is the best tool to solve it.”
WealthArc provides a holistic view of assets across all asset classes and automates wealth management. It consists of two solutions: Wealth Data Management, allowing consolidation of assets from over 125 data sources, and WealthApp: a modular open platform offering consolidated reporting, portfolio analytics, order management, direct trade execution, CRM, and more.