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RBC takes wealth management into the cloud

The bank is working with Avaloq to digitize the Asia private-banking business, front to back.



Terence Chow, RBC Wealth Management

RBC Wealth Management is working with technology vendor Avaloq to move its operations into the cloud.

Terence Chow, head of the bank’s wealth-management business in Asia, says it has used Avaloq’s core-banking system since 2012. Now it is deepening the relationship to digitize the lifecycle of wealth products.

RBC Wealth Management’s Asia business includes offices in Hong Kong and Singapore covering nine regional markets as well as home-base Canada, the United States, and the British Isles to service Asia’s global families.

“We specialize in serving families in Asia that are globally situated or are considering an increasingly global footprint, whether through education, investment or immigration,” Chow said. “We are adding digital capabilities to enrich these relationships.”

Three challenges

Avaloq offers cloud-based software-as-service that will serve as the new I.T. backbone for RBC WM’s business in Asia. It will allow the firm to readily partner with fintechs or other businesses.

The transition required RBC WM and Avaloq to tackle several challenges.

First was ensuring the privacy and security of confidential data as it moves off the bank’s own servers.

Second was vendor cost and service levels. A traditional system is usually upgraded on a regular basis, with annual releases that banking customers must then pay for. SaaS offerings are not so structured.

Third was what efficiencies and advantages could be gained by shifting to cloud. “How does this impact our ability in Asia to communicate with the bank in other time zones?” Chow explained. “What’s ‘end-of-day’ processing?”

The bank was keen to upgrade its tech stack in order to automate the business as much as possible. Since the COVID pandemic, private banks have had to change the way their relationship managers communicate with wealthy clients, from paper and phone to social media chat and video conferences; from desktop to mobile.

“Clients use our mobile app for their own administrative updates, for gaining insights, looking at their portfolio and discussing strategy with RMs,” Chow said.

From RMs to back office

The shift to cloud and data sharing means RMs can present clients a more holistic view of their business with RBC, across the family – such as keeping tabs on supporting children studying overseas.

“Digitization is a means to an end,” Chow said. “As family needs become more complex, we want to ensure our relationship managers are in tune.”

Moving to cloud is not just about client-facing activities: it’s also to automate the back and middle office.

One benefit is the ability to shift Asia client activity to the books and recordkeeping of the parent bank in Canada, thus doing away with some reconciliation tasks in Asia. It also means an easier way to share data within the firm, in order to develop better client propositions.

Looking ahead, Chow says the upgraded tech stack will let RBC work more easily with other providers.

“We want to keep an eye out for fintechs with tools that enhance our conversation with clients, and that make it easy for clients to engage with our relationship managers.”

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