Wealth Managers traditionally work in an exceptionally unpredictable and competitive environment. This complexity originates from the constantly changing regulations that they should comply with, and has inherited cost as they have to alter procedures and execute innovations. Further intricacy is included by market instability and historically low yields, making it hard to find the appropriate risk-return combination.
With the technological advancements taking place rapidly, the landscape is getting more dynamic. Besides traditional competitors, the industry is seeing disruptive actors, for example, Robo Advisors entering the market. Other than expanding rivalry, they are additionally changing the tenets of the game, and putting pressure on conventional players to reevaluate the way they do business. Since these actors are bringing more modern and proficient methods for getting things done, clients hope to have the capacity to play out any activity related to their funds anywhere, at any time and for the lowest possible fee. These increase strain on existing players, not exclusively to enhance their level and speed of service, but also to bring down their charges. What’s more; we should not overlook that the last crisis is still exceptionally present in customer’s psyches, so they additionally expect Wealth Managers to have solid risk mitigation processes.
Recognizing this difficulty, SAGE Group was founded in 1986 to help Wealth Managers serve their clients better. Emerged from the hard work of Jean-Luc Freymond, CEO – who joined SAGE in 1995 – and his aim to put clients before everything else, today, SAGE Group is a global financial technology company and banking software provider dedicated to Wealth Management industry. He has transformed what was initially a service company doing bespoke software developments in Switzerland into a software publisher specialized in finance.
Along with a comprised team of Banking and Fintech specialists who believe today’s smart technology can change the way High Net Worth Individuals (HNWI) interact with their Wealth Managers, SAGE helps Wealth Managers make their task simpler and serve their clients better.
SAGE’s clients rely on its smart technology to manage complex financial operations in the most cost-effective and efficient way. They implement SAGE’s solutions to be able to serve their clients better, leading to superior client retention and improved margins. SAGE offers out-of-the-box digitally-enhanced client relationship solutions that can be implemented fast. It helps improve front office productivity to bring more value-added services to the clients.
Managing Complex Financial Operations in the Most Cost-Effective and Efficient Way
Jean-Luc started developing bespoke ERP applications for many industries such as retail, subscription management and banking. This was an important phase because it allowed him and the team to broaden their perspective and come up with more creative ways of approaching the problems that they helped resolve. Jean-Luc, then, decided to transform the company into a true software publisher and focus on one single niche where he felt SAGE had the most added value.
However, getting clients to trust their strategic wealth management business with a new system from a small self-financed company with very few references was the biggest struggle ‘The Team SAGE’ had to face. But, the team was very fortunate to count Merrill Lynch as an early adopter of Prospero for their Global Wealth Management activities (later sold to Julius Baer). They helped the company to come up with the right value proposition but also to grow its user base.
Being Available to Clients Whenever, Wherever Required
For more than last three decades, SAGE has been treating its clients with the same level of attention and personalized service as Swiss Private Banks do with their customers. Offering a unique combination of Swiss Wealth Management expertise and local presence in the markets, SAGE prides itself on being available to clients whenever wherever required.
Unlike its competition that offers separate solutions that they connect to cover all requirements, SAGE offers a truly integrated solution that combines all the features needed to manage investment portfolios and funds administration.
As a result of its simplified system setup and a rules-based logic that offers great flexibility without having to code, helping managers to better meet the increasing expectations of their clients, SAGE takes much lesser time to market than its competition.
Prospero, Founding Block for Wealth Managers
Among its varied range of innovative solutions, SAGE Group’s Prospero system is the founding block that Wealth Managers require offering the level of service their clients expect. With Prospero, customers can achieve operational excellence by automating compliance verification and by executing and processing orders in true Straight Through Process. Prospero has a high level of automation while still allowing managers to tailor services for their clients. They can do so by offering multiple channels to interact with their clients such as traditional channels like head-office, branches, IVR and more modern channels like Chatbots, Web and Mobile Apps and Robo Advisory.
BlackSwan, Constantly Evolving and Back-tested Financial Platform
Due to its BlackSwan Portfolio Optimization and Risk Management System, SAGE lets managers build trust with their clients. Additionally, it supports alternative asset classes such as Private Equity, Structured Products and Derivatives so managers can offer more diversified products.
With its Blackswan System that uses advanced quantitative finance models, SAGE also helps institutions make better investment decisions, reduce risks and increase returns. Then it helps them by offering a digital self-service platform for their clients, allowing them to perform all types of operations 24×7 from the comfort of their home, also provides dashboards and automated workflows for client-facing staff to improve their service. Furthermore, it provides the solid back-end system needed to be able to offer innovative products and services 24×7.
Continuing Investing into Building Smart Products
To tackle the ever-growing competition in the Wealth Management industry, SAGE’s main strategy is to continue investing in building smart products that are better at helping clients run their business. The company has hired professionals with both wealth management and technical experience to develop and implement its innovative solutions to the industry’s pain points. Besides, SAGE wants to make the system affordable to as many institutions both regarding implementation and on-going operation. This has prompted SAGE to develop an intelligent system configurator that performs most of the system setup automatically using business logic rather than code or scripts as required by similar competing systems.
Jean-Luc believes the industry is facing historically low yields combined with higher regulation and compliance costs. Second, although we see new and disruptive fin-techs entering the market, there is little true innovation as far as financial products are concerned.
“Clients generally have less trust in financial institutions to preserve their wealth and beat indexes which can push clients to settle for cheap products such as ETFs with a good asset allocation and low fees as offered by Robo Advisors. So in our point of view institutions that want to preserve their margins, need to invest in their user experience, breadth and quality of service and democratize alternative asset classes,” Jean-Luc asserts.
Going ahead in the future, SAGE’s primary focus is to automate the back-office operations further. “We believe they can be fully automated with better communication between the actors. To speed up the process we are focusing on using Artificial Intelligence technology and we are currently exploring practical use of AI such as document processing, investment suitability, transactions exception detection and resolution, asset allocation and profiling, and tackling compliance and fraud issues. Then, as mentioned above, we want to make the system as affordable as possible. So, we will continue making the system simpler to operate and implement to make it affordable even to boutique institutions such as small fund managers or small family offices that are faced with the same complexity as large organizations but can’t afford a large team,” Jean-Luc concludes.
About the Key Executive
Mr. Jean-Luc Freymond serves as the Chief Executive Officer of SAGE Group. Jean-Luc used to be one of the significant architects of Prospero, SAGE’s suite of financial services software solution. Before joining SAGE, Jean-Luc worked for Swiss banking giant UBS and has more than 20 years of experience in systems development and the management of banking projects. He has implemented several projects of considerable scope and led several teams of developers and analysts. He has lectured on banking technology at the University of Lausanne and contributed to several industry expert panels and webinars.
He started his career at UBS in commodity finance. He is also a self-taught developer and during his studies, he was freelancing by doing bespoke development for businesses in Switzerland. That puts him right at the intersection of finance and technology. He received both his BA in Management and his Postgraduate Diploma in European Law from the University of Lausanne, and received his EO/MIT Entrepreneurial Masters Program from MIT.