What does digital transformation mean in a sector like asset management company (AMC)? In this post, we’ll look at how savings management providers have integrated one or more aspects of digital transformation into their business.
Digital transformation in the AMC: what is the landscape for opportunities?
These are just some of the questions that may arise when we talk about a topic as vast as digital transformation in an extremely complex sector such as finance, and savings management in particular.
Beyond these questions, it is clear that digital transformation is an issue that savings management companies, and the asset management sector in general must deal with now and in the immediate future. For this reason, it is perhaps more interesting to ask what digital transformation means in the context of asset management companies and what this phenomenon actually implies.
What does digital transformation mean?
To go deeper into this topic, it is necessary to clarify what digital transformation actually means.
Digital transformation is “the process of using digital technologies to create new — or modify existing — business processes, culture, and customer experiences to meet changing business and market requirements” (wikipedia.org).
On closer inspection, when we talk about digital transformation we are not only referring to the integration of digital technologies within a business: the phenomenon is much broader and deeper. With digital transformation, is not only technology that is affected; instead, the entire ecosystem is impacted.
After all, within any company, including savings management companies, digital transformation happens through at least six pillars, all of which are necessary to bring it perfectly to fruition.
In particular, they are:
- automation, which makes it possible to increase the speed and efficiency of work by reducing errors;
- computerization, which makes it possible for companies to manage the various phases of a production process with software that provides reliable results;
- dematerialization, which completely changes the way the customer and the company exchange documents and information, reducing time and materials used;
- virtualization, which allows you to control and perform certain actions through software without necessarily having to be present or on site;
- the cloud, which represents the best example of optimization provided by digital transformation, especially in terms of organization, classification, and storage of relevant information;
- the mobile approach, which allows you to have full control of your business without having to sacrifice your autonomy.
Internal and external digital transformation
Thus “unpacked”, digital transformation has different aspects that each contributes to changing the business in a specific way.
In addition, the list above is also useful for understanding something interesting when talking about asset management companies. And it’s this: digital transformation can go in two directions: internally, which concerns the organization of the company itself, and externally, which mainly concerns the relationship with the customer and the customer experience that is offered.
Obviously, these two transformations can coexist and, indeed, the best digital transformations manage to operate on both directions at once. It makes sense that, if you digitize the outputs of an asset management company, it makes sense to digitize internal procedures as well.
However, this may not always be the case. Instead, some companies may only implement some of these changes.
Let’s look at how the above-mentioned aspects of digital transformation can be integrated into the asset management activities, starting from some relevant case studies.
How digital transformation brings AMC in the cloud
An example of an “internal” transformation is the use of the cloud for certain activities.
According to Microsoft’s definition, the cloud is a global network of servers, in which each of them has its own specific function. In other words, it is a “vast network of remote servers located all over the world, connected to each other and operating as a single ecosystem”, which allows its users to store and manage information, run applications or distribute content or services without having to access a specific server, since a simple internet connection is sufficient.
In the context of asset management companies, cloud technology is very useful because it allows companies to significantly improve the efficiency of the company, both in terms of collecting and storing information and managing and retrieving it later.
All of this translates into considerable savings in time and resources, as well as a significant reduction in the time it takes to perform many internal processes. From this point of view, IdeA Fimit is the perfect example.
Cloud and savings management company: the case of IdeA Fimit
IdeA Fimit SGR S.p.a., now DeA Capital Real Estate SGR, is an Italian asset management company operating in the real estate fund management sector. The company is part of the De Agostini group and represents an interesting case study regarding the digital transformation of the AMC using the cloud.
The Milan-based company realized that, as the size and number of portfolios they managed increased, a significant part of its resources were spent to collect and consolidate the data contained in a myriad of Excel documents scattered throughout the company network in a single file. At one point, this collection operation took a team a whole week. The manual process was not only inefficient, but, because the consolidation activity required a series of copying and integration activities, there was a high possibility of errors and inaccuracies.
It was precisely in such a context that digital transformation and, in particular, cloud technology intervened to allow IdeA Fimit SGR to centralize data processing, keeping Excel only as a front-end. In this way, there is no longer a file for each background, but instead, there is a unique document from which it is easy to get an overview, which can be deepened with a simple click.
Advantages and strengths of the IdeA Fimit case
The advantages of such a transformation are greater efficiency and increased reliability. To this, we must add improved workflow. For example, each activity requires a username and password. This guarantees an almost perfect tracking of all the operations that are performed, making it easier to trace the origin of any error.
Another advantage not to be overlooked is the simplification of the transition from a macro analysis to a micro analysis and vice versa. Through the drill-down, it is possible to go from the portfolio to the view of individual items and then return to the general document in just a few steps.
Despite these benefits, some members of IdeA Fimit pointed out in a recent interview how the full realization of digital transformation has had a critical impact, which helps us understand the context in which this change is often realized (zerounoweb.it).
The first critical factor is related to the initial effort that is required at all levels: digital transformation revolutionizes processes, flows, and general dynamics. Consequently, it takes time and resources to build a digitally renewed production system and make it work at full capacity.
The second critical factor concerns the company culture. The new working model was, in fact, “threatening” to some employees who feared “downsizing”. This aspect is often underestimated but it is fundamental: to implement a perfect digital transformation it is also necessary to create the right digital mindset for employees, one which does not hinder the path towards digitization.
This not only translates into the development of new skills, but also into a greater awareness of the advantages and opportunities that digitization offers to all employees in terms of business and an improvement in the way they work.
The Ambienta example: transformation through dematerialization
Another mode of digital transformation for AMC is one that provides for the progressive dematerialization of procedures.
The term dematerialization refers to the complex and articulated process by which paper records are converted into digital records in such a way that they retain their legal and evidential value and all the elements that pertain to the archival context of reference.
A change of this kind was undertaken by Ambienta SGR, one of the most important private equity funds in Europe, which recently acquired Namiral, an Italian company that is specialized in dematerialization solutions. In this way, Ambienta has achieved a series of significant advantages for its business.
First of all, it has achieved significant savings in terms of resources used for the creation, archiving, and management of documents. In fact, for Ambienta, it was no longer necessary to have physical spaces for storing documents. At the same time, it was possible to optimize sending and receiving of documents, which now take place directly using digital media.
Another benefit that Ambienta obtained from dematerialization is the ability to make the business more ecologically sustainable. The conversion to digital documents reduces the use of paper and ink that can result in a large amount of waste that is often difficult to dispose of or to recycle. It can be said, therefore, that digital transformation also favors the green evolution of your business, which is especially essential today, when sustainability is a factor that consumers in every sector value.
The case of Ambienta also highlights another aspect of the digital transformation in the context of managed savings, which often requires third party support in carrying out their activities. After all, Ambienta bought Namiral precisely to acquire its specific know-how, thus making considerable savings, since it would have been much more difficult and expensive for the company to develop the same skills internally and in total autonomy. Obviously, an acquisition is not the only solution. You can decide, for example, to form strategic partnerships with companies, like Doxee, who can support you in even the most delicate moments of digital transformation.
Digital transformation and communication: Doxee
From this point of view, Doxee is a perfect partner to support savings management companies in their “external” digital transformation, since it has innovative solutions to improve a fundamental aspect of this sector, namely communication. On the other hand, if it is true that inclusiveness is destined to become one of the most important trends for the asset management market in the near future, it is inevitable that companies will change the way it reaches its customers.
In this sense, Doxee offers effective technology to make its messages more engaging. An example of this is Doxee Pvideo®, which allows its customers to easily create and distribute personalized videos, which are able to address the recipient directly. In turn, each recipient can decide which parts of the video to see thanks to the User-Directed-Storytelling feature. In this way, the customer is no longer a passive subject who simply consumes the information he receives. Instead, the customer becomes an active part of the message, which he forms according to his preferences and needs.
After all, digital transformation for AMC also means this: making basic financial knowledge more accessible so that more people are in the right conditions to understand and choose how to manage their savings.
This, among other things, ensures that asset management companies have a valuable opportunity to become more relevant to the entire sector, helping to increase the average level of financial literacy.