Calm apps and biometrics: the tech wealth managers can't live without

Freddy Colquhoun

Investment director, JM Finn, London

I moved out of London a few years ago and am now faced with a relatively long commute each day. Although smartphones and tablets may be an obvious answer to my 'could-not-do-without' technology today, for me, I prefer not to tune into the latest Netflix thriller.

My move was partly prompted by wanting to escape the intensity of living in a city and I have taken up yoga and meditation to help instil mindfulness into my daily life.

Given all the distractions in our lives today, trying to be 'present' is difficult. Therefore, I could not do without the Calm app. I use the app during my commute, allowing me to meditate for about 20/30 minutes each day.

I find that it really helps to clear my mind and set me up for a positive start to the day. There is still plenty of time to check emails, look at the overnight news and (sometimes) reply to that barrage of WhatsApp messages.

Ian Cadby

CEO, Tiller Investments, London

The introduction and widespread use of smartphones, putting impressive processing power and cameras in the palm of your hand, has unlocked new opportunities for fintech companies.

One of the biggest problems facing wealth managers is how to take on new clients quickly, securely and with minimum effort.

Traditionally, this process always involved lots of paperwork, certified copies of ID documents and sometimes weeks of delays before accounts could be opened.

However, a few companies, including ours, can now securely take on new clients in minutes via a smartphone app that uses the phone’s camera and advanced biometric matching software to verify the client’s identity against their documents.

It allows us to perform all the necessary checks and approve, where possible, immediate investments. None of this would have been possible without the incredible advancements in smartphone technology over the last 10 years.

Joel Dungate

Investment analyst, Redmayne Bentley, Orpington

Twitter began in embryonic form in the mid-noughties, but really started to make a big impact about a decade ago, before listing on the NYSE in 2013.

I frequent Twitter for the sole purpose of following those political and economic commentators I find most interesting.

I attended an investor conference recently in which one of the speakers lamented the poor quality analysis offered by newspapers. Instead, he said, all the most intelligent economic commentary can be found on Twitter (although I am sure the opposite is true as well).

What this enormously successful platform has done is allow ordinary people such as myself direct access to the thoughts of experts as events unfold. No longer do we need to wait for the editorials of tomorrow. In our fast-moving world, this instant access can be very valuable and insightful.

Jim Wood-Smith

CIO, private clients and head of research, Hawksmoor, Exeter

The whole point of the majority of common technology is that we can live without it. Television, streaming, smart phones, social media are all discretionary lifestyle choices.

The providers are exceptionally skilful at making us believe their products are prerequisites to daily survival: our attention allows them to sell advertising space and time, targeted at selling us more things that we do not actually need.

We are doubtful that this business model is sustainable over the longer term. We prefer to invest in technology that actually makes a difference – bringing clean drinking water to those without it, suppling power to parts of the world too hot or cold to allow comfortable human existence, reducing carbon, promoting renewable energy, reducing plastic and other pollution.

Personally, I spend too much time driving and my one luxury is the DAB in the car.’ 

James Fleming,

Chief executive at Sandaire, London

Over the past ten years technology has brought a significant change in lifestyle for most individuals. To mention a few, there have been the advances in social networking, Wi-Fi and the internet of things, wearable technology, e-commerce, artificial intelligence and augmented reality, all of which have been ground-breaking in their own way.

However, none come to mind more than the invention and development of the smartphone. In 2008 Apple debuted the Apple App Store, as well as the first flash memory drive, which are now ubiquitous on smartphones, tablets and better laptops.

In more recent years there has been the significant invention of smartphone thumbprint and bio-metric face or voice recognition technology. 

Having arrived on phones (in 2011 on Motorola, and in 2017 on iPhones) this is now heavily used in banking apps, phone email/calendar viewing and in 2-factor authentication.

This also enabled phone payment features which are common now but non-existent ten years ago. The challenge for the investment industry in general and for those investment managers who focus on a relationship managed service in particular, is how to embrace these innovations and incorporate them into their business models.

Matthew Hull

Chartered financial analyst and portfolio manager, TAMAC,  Salisbury

I’d have to say that one of the most significant technological shifts across the past decade or so has been the rise of the social internet. It has evolved from simple online profiles and messaging to its current status as a central part of people’s lives.

Sharing photos, online streaming, advertising, networking and even presidential announcements are all available across different platforms. Ask 10 different people what they use social media for and you’ll likely get 10 different answers, it’s this flexibility which makes it so unique.

We invest in various companies involved in the social internet through our Global Internet Sector Fund, companies such as Facebook, which has been able to grow mobile advertising revenue at 45% for 2018.

Love it or loath it, the social internet has changed the personal and business landscape so drastically, you certainly can’t ignore it.

Iain Barnes

Head of portfolio management at Netwealth, London

Undoubtedly the biggest influence on me from tech development over the past 10 years has been the introduction of cloud-based computing. 

It’s hardly the glitziest answer but without the cloud it would be impossible to deliver the scale, cost-efficiency and speed of development required for our firm!

Rather than deal with the long, costly cycle of planning, building, renting, and repurposing servers for our intended usage, firms like Netwealth can provision cloud services within minutes, instantly scale capacity as-and-when needed and only pay for what we use.

Added to that are the security benefits: building on the shoulders of giants allows firms like ours to benefit from the high standards of data security and system robustness of services such as Microsoft Azure or Amazon Web Services.

Keeping one’s head in the cloud means that efficiency, flexibility and innovation have improved immeasurably, translating directly into lower charges, wider choice and improved services for clients – the ultimate win-win scenario.

John Leiper

Head of portfolio management, Tavistock Wealth, London

If it wasn't for GPS on my smartphone I would be lost. There isn't a day that goes by that doesn't involve me checking my location or typing-in an address to help me navigate and generally plan ahead.

Mostly I use Google Maps whilst walking around London. However, the technology is at its best in the car, particularly when driving long distances.

Car journeys are now faster and typically argument free. Other developments include mobile phone apps that incorporate location sharing and tracking services.

I don't personally use these, and whilst there are potential privacy issues, the benefits are clear. So... having GPS on my smart phone means I am very rarely lost and usually on-time which is a good thing.'