Comarch, a global software house with expertise in finance, announced the results of a survey conducted among private bankers across the world. The results show that digitizing both the advisor and client environment in order to complement traditional wealth management services lies at the heart of the industry’s modus operandi for years to come.

The survey was carried out in spring 2016 among over 50 private banking institutions across European, Middle Eastern and ASEAN countries. Joining forces with Efma, a non-profit body promoting innovation in the world of finance, Comarch set out to examine how - and to what extent - bankers from diverse geographies are currently using, and plan to use, digital technologies.

The key findings, described in a report titled: "The evolution of private banking and wealth management resulting from digitization" include:

  • Going digital climbs all-time high on the list of bank priorities; trumps keeping up with regulations

According to 82% of the respondents, going digital outweighs all other present challenges to cope with. Client investment reporting and trading stand out as areas that might potentially be moved in its entirety to online channels. In both cases over 50% of the respondents would be willing to do so. These areas contrast distinctively with advisory – only 10% believes that digitizing it to the maximum extent possible is reasonable.

Quite strikingly, improving regulatory compliance, traditionally identified in many other studies as an absolute number one among the burning issues of the private banking realm, now ranks third and is preceded by streamlining business efficiency. 'This is the first time we’ve seen digitization to be considered so seriously – and put above MiFIDs or RDRs', says Grzegorz Prosowicz, Comarch's Head of Product Management for Capital Markets.

  • Digitization is fueled primarily by client demand; it’s what the banked – and just then the bankers – want

“Client demand” and “new generation of clients” indicated as the reasons to go digital garner respectively as many as 80 and 71% of all the responses. The client factor plays the dominant role in driving the digital change, much stronger than the institutional factor.

A rising number of banks show some interest in tools that may be considered quite unconventional in the private banking sphere: the big three is robo-advice, social media and internet of things. 'We had approximately 50% of positive opinions towards all these areas, which is quite a lot. Not so long ago, they were utterly abstract to the industry', highlights Comarch's Prosowicz

  • Although bankers assume their customers to reap the main benefits from digitization, the process will work to the advantage of both sides


While clients are the natural beneficiaries of the digital evolution – and it’s their needs, preferences and expectations that matter most – they are by no means the only ones. Bankers count on particular benefits as well. It’s more frequent interaction with clients, increase of business (both 58%) and lower cost to income ratio (56%) that the respondents consider their holy grails.

Based on the gathered results, Comarch's report extends a few recommendations for the industry:

  • As customer service expectations of the ‘new wealthy’ are formed based on the use of websites such as Amazon, banks need to be ‘amazonified’ to stay in the game

In other words, the banks are advised to consider utilizing demographic, contextual, and behavioral data to learn more about those they cater to – and to provide services that truly resonate with their audiences.

  • Within remote advisory, the most probable direction in which the client-advisor interaction will evolve, video communication appears as a particularly promising sphere to plunge into

Video communication might come in handy both in case of occasional, one-on-one remote meetings with an advisor and more regular sessions aimed at client education or training.

  • Relying on word of mouth from day one, private bankers should turn more to contemporary agoras –social media platforms, and consider creating own virtual communities to share valuable content

The bankers often struggle with social media seeing it a source of reputational risk - but being active in virtual communities does make sense in private banking as they can be used to track client opinions, interests and desires.

A full copy of the report including more detailed findings and analyses is available for download here.