In a rapidly changing financial landscape, banks need to be ready to adapt. ABN AMRO is actively addressing the evolving needs of private banking clients by focusing on digital transformation and personalised service.

One example is the demand for ESG impact investments, which is rising. ABN AMRO’s managing director of digital wealth products, Marlou Jenniskens, and IT lead Shabi Shafei believe that this will continue to be a crucial factor.

Similarly, they also explain how working with Temenos and other technology partners is essential to accomplishing digital transformation objectives.

This new generation of wealth customers brings distinct expectations, favouring personalised and holistic financial planning, easy access to a wide range of products, and seamless digital experiences.

ABN AMRO: adapting to client demands

One of the first key points raised by Jenniskens is the “great wealth transfer,” in which trillions of dollars are transferred from the Baby Boomer generation to their heirs, is driving a significant shift in wealth management.

Managing the wealth products tribe, Jenniskens is responsible for maintaining the platform and developing investments, financial planning, and pensions products. With 15 years of experience, she focuses on the next generation of customers.

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Jenniskens says that the upcoming generation will not automatically bank with their parents, but rather have their own requirements.

As a result, she believes that these consumers benefit much from their individualised approach.

Speaking to PBI, she adds: ‘‘It needs to start with a holistic approach, holistic advice and personalised insights tailored to clients’ need. They need to be affordable and digitally available. So, preferably at your fingertips through your mobile. And still whenever customers have a question or they want to speak to somebody, that they can have easy access to an adviser as well. So therefore, the digital transformation for us is really key.’’

ABN AMRO is actively adapting its products and offerings to meet the evolving needs of its customers through a dual approach. Internally, the bank is focused on a comprehensive digital transformation journey aimed at enhancing customer experiences by making their journeys more seamless and convenient.

A key aspect of this transformation is ensuring that all products are digitally accessible via mobile platforms, thereby improving accessibility and ease of use.

Additionally, ABN AMRO is democratising access to financial products that were previously available only to a selective number of clients, like impact products but also private market products and structured products, thus broadening their availability.

Externally, the bank is forging partnerships with a variety of companies to further diversify and enhance its offerings.

This approach not only helps in catering to a wider customer base but also aligns with the growing demand for products with strong ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) impacts, reflecting the bank’s commitment to responsible banking practices.

To further attract younger clients, ABN AMRO is exploring partnerships and acquisitions. A notable example is the acquisition of Bux, a user-friendly investment platform popular among younger investors.

This strategic move aims to integrate Bux as a subsidiary, allowing ABN AMRO to engage with younger clients early and guide them through their financial journeys.

Jenniskens explains that Bux offers a user-friendly app that allows customers to invest independently through an execution-only platform, appealing particularly to younger investors, with an average user age of around 30, compared to the higher average age of ABN AMRO’s typical clientele.

Overcoming challenges with technology

ABN AMRO faces several challenges to achieve their growth ambitions, including the need to rapidly adapt to changing customer demands and evolving regulatory landscapes.

Shafei has substantial experience in the wealth management business, as well as a strong foundation in IT at ABN AMRO.

As an IT Lead, she manages multiple DevOps teams in charge of creating and maintaining key applications critical to wealth management services.

She points out that, while implementing changes can be challenging and time-consuming, it is possible to do so with technology and how ABN AMRO must also navigate the complexities of maintaining and integrating its legacy systems.

Shafei adds: ‘‘One challenge that I think a lot of incumbents have is still cost efficiency. We need to remain cost efficient; we want to transform a lot in the digital fields. But we also need to do is in a cost-conscious way. And so, efficiency is still a very important topic, and it will remain important.’’

She also expresses how balancing innovation and legacy management are crucial for banks to remain agile, responsive to customer needs and regulatory requirements, and accelerate the market for new products and services.

Collaboration with tech solutions

ABN AMRO collaborates with technology providers like Temenos to modernise its IT infrastructure.

The Dutch bank is leveraging IT solutions and collaborations to become a future-proof, personal bank in the digital age.

To achieve this, the bank is transitioning from a complex, monolithic architecture to a lean, modular, and composable one with a rich API landscape. This shift is essential for enhancing cost efficiency, sustainability, and regulatory compliance.

Temenos can play a critical role in this transformation by providing modular, composable SaaS solutions that align with ABN AMRO’s goals.

This new architecture enables faster adaptation to regulatory changes and improved customer service.

Additionally, ABN AMRO has invested heavily in standardising its infrastructure, which now includes both off-premises and on-premises cloud solutions.

Shafei shares: “With Temenos, were able to bring one of our portfolio management applications towards the Cloud. And that is something that can help us with a lot of challenges that we face. We are able to go and get quicker time to market, deploy faster, have the scalability that we need, and provide better experience also for engineers.”

These advancements illustrate how ABN AMRO is using technology and strategic partnerships to address challenges and meet its evolving goals.

Product director in wealth at Temenos, Alex Duret, also highlighted significant shifts and upcoming innovations in the industry.

While interest in digital assets remains high, there is a growing shift in focus to generative AI (GenAI), according to Duret. Which, he says is now seen as a game changer across various sectors, including wealth management.

Duret’s role covers everything from digital channels and front office systems, which advisers and portfolio managers heavily use, to the back-office securities value chain.

He emphasises that Temenos actively experiments with GenAI to enhance the productivity of bank users, particularly advisers and relationship managers.

This technology is expected to become foundational, alongside essential elements like cloud and SaaS. While dealing directly with clients remains challenging due to the need for controlled AI outputs, the initial focus is on supporting advisers.

A key platform in Temenos wealth management solution, offers a dedicated app and web interface for private banking, providing a comprehensive experience that includes portfolio management, strategy linkage, compliance, and trading.

To enhance functionality, Temenos partners with companies like Wealth Dynamix for CRM and Edge Lab for market risk calculations. Looking ahead, GenAI plays a significant role in Temenos’ offerings.

One notable feature in development is Smart Search, which enables front-office staff to access data without IT support.

Generative AI is set to play a crucial role in ABN AMRO’s strategy, offering potential in areas ranging from secure banking to enhancing digital customer interactions.

Shafei explains:”Gen AI is indeed going to be a crucial part of the new strategy as well, because we see a lot of value in a lot of different areas when it comes to Gen AI;Ranging from Secure Banking towards a frictionless digital channel.”

As well, leveraging data and analytics is key to providing superior wealth management services.

ABN AMRO is focused on building a robust data infrastructure that supports efficient decision-making and personalised client interactions.

‘‘We have a lot of structured and unstructured data as well in the bank, and we are really trying to ensure that we can use that data in a safe and secure way to have better learning but also better and more efficient decision making,’’ says Shafei.

Nonetheless, on the business side, the key objective for ABN AMRO is to provide customers with actionable insights derived from their own data, empowering them to make informed decisions and take appropriate actions.

Jenniskens emphasises “A proper data structure is very important. It is a crucial part of our strategy. To provide relevant advice to your customers, a holistic customer view is the starting point, including, for example, a total overview of a customer’s assets, liabilities, and insight in their goals. What does it look like, if you would like to retire at a certain age or if you would like to make this kind of investment for your children? You need a proper data infrastructure to enable such insights and conversations.”

To complement this, Jenniskens reveals the bank is further implementing its data strategy, focusing on data domains, and appointing dedicated data product owners to take its data management capabilities to the next level.

Fostering revolution

ABN AMRO fosters a culture of innovation and agility through several strategic approaches.

One key method is innovation within the business, particularly in the tribe that supports wealth management and affluent customers.

Jenniskens highlights: ”We always take the customer feedback into account, so we never launch anything without testing it properly with customers.”

This involves customer panels and small-scale “friends and family” offerings to validate innovations against customer demands.

‘‘We work in an agile way. We experiment, we test and then we launch once we have that feedback,’’ she concludes.

Here, the bank ensures continuous availability for experimentation, always integrating customer feedback before launching new products.

Completing this, ABN AMRO has a dedicated Corporate Innovation group that focuses on longer-term financial services trends and future ecosystem developments. This group collaborates with various partners at the forefront of improvement, including startups with modern technologies.

Likewise, the bank’s innovation strategy includes partnerships and acquisitions, such as the acquisition of BUX, which helps maintain a focus on enhancing customer experiences through advanced, innovative solutions.

By combining these internal and external innovation efforts, ABN AMRO ensures it remains alert and forward-thinking, constantly adapting to new developments in the sector and other areas to better serve its customers.

As ABN AMRO navigates the shifting landscape of wealth management, its commitment to digital transformation, personalised client service, and sustainable investment options positions it to meet the needs of the next generation of wealth customers.

By leveraging technology and fostering a culture of innovation, ABN AMRO is well-equipped to adapt to the evolving demands of private banking clients and maintain its competitive edge in the financial industry.