With more than a dozen apps in the international financial services and as the current holder of the 2019 International Investment Award for Fintech Innovation, it is no surprise to see deVere Group continue to champion the use of financial technology now and for the future.
But how has the company coped during the covid-19 global pandemic? And has this investment and focus on fintech given the company an edge as world of financial advice has changed throughout 2020?
International Investment's Gary Robinson posed the questions to deVere Group founder and CEO Nigel Green to find out more.
The financial services sector is currently undergoing, I believe, possibly the most profound transformation in history."
GR: Speaking generally, how has fintech changed financial services in the last 5-10 years?
NG: Financial services sector is currently undergoing, I believe, possibly the most profound transformation in history. This is being driven by fintech, which is reshaping the sector in fundamental ways.
Most traditional financial services firms were monumentally caught off guard by the 2007-2008 crash.
As they went into survival mode and re-grouped, fintech providers started to move in and are filling the void left between what traditional financial services companies are offering and what customers are now expecting, especially in terms of customer experience.
Fintech is already the ‘new normal' as we increasingly insist on immediate, on-the-go, 24/7 access to, use and management of our money. We demand personalised, on-demand services and lower costs.
GR: Why has deVere invested so heavily in this area? And what sets the company apart from the competition?
NG: DeVere is one of the very few financial advisory organisations that has been actively pushing into fintech and is now widely regarded as one of the leaders in the sector.
We invested heavily - and continue to do so - because we recognised early on that fintech is the future of our industry and to meet existing and future client demand.
GR: You have a number of apps. Why so many? And how have they been embraced by users?
NG: Over the last three years, the company has developed and rolled out a suite of ground-breaking fintech apps.
These include deVere Vault, a global e-money currency app and multi-currency prepaid card; deVere Crypto, a cryptocurrency app to store, transfer and exchange major cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin; deVere Core, an app that allows clients to monitor their investments in real-time on-the-go, keeping them informed with news and events that impact investor returns; and deVere Catalyst, a low-cost investment and savings app that offers best-in-class globally diversified funds.
More recently, we launched Ident Me. This pioneering app provides a secure identity verification system - as an alternative to traditional customer onboarding - and a notary services function when required, which is a first for the international financial services and fintech sector.
All our cutting-edge apps are designed solely with our clients in mind and they have fully embraced them as they help them achieve their financial ambitions.
GR: You set out your stall early on by embracing technology. How has that impacted on business?
NG: By embracing fintech early on we have kept well ahead of all major competitors in our sector. It clearly demonstrates that we're a forward-thinking, pro-active organisation with the resources to back-up our ambitions.
It shows clients we continually invest in products that they demand to help them reach their long-term financial goals.
It also helps to attract and retain the industry's top talent.
GR: By using tech and other innovations deVere is more than an international adviser firm these days. Does increased technology mean advice is a diminishing more specialised art?
NG: We remain one of the world's largest independent financial advisory organisations, but now we're also globally acknowledged as a main leader in the fintech sector too.
We believe that clients want a combination of personal advice and innovative digital solutions to help them achieve financial security and financial freedom.
GR: How has covid-19 impacted on deVere's business so far and how has technology helped?
NG: We moved quickly and effectively at the start of the pandemic, which has been essential in allowing us to continue to provide the highest quality of service to our clients around the world. Technology has enabled us to do this without disruption.
A major global workplace revolution has taken place this year. Our teams are now more flexible in that some prefer to work remotely, fully or as part of a hybrid team, whereby there's a mix of onsite and home work.
GR: How do you see technology impacting further on financial advice and financial services into 2021 and beyond?
NG: The world is becoming increasingly tech-driven and, as such, tech will continue to play a more dominant role in financial advice and financial services more generally over the next few years.
There's no going back to the old ways of doing things. Fintech is the future of our industry.
GR: In a post-covid world are we finally ready for AI and robo advice to really take off?
NG: There will certainly a place for it, but there will always be a demand for bespoke financial advice, especially for high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth individuals.
GR: And, finally, I think I remember you once said that you wished that you could clone yourself. Given the possibilities with AI, Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality, could we expect to see a virtual computerised ‘super adviser' with, say, a virtual Nigel Green dishing out advice into the future and beyond?
NG: Anything is possible! We think big at deVere and back it up with action and results.
This interview is also published here in a special report devoted to the story of fintech: its history and also what the future holds.
The special report, sponsored by deVere Group, takes an in-depth look at how the financial and tech industries came to work together to change almost every aspect of finance, and in every corner of the world. Click here to read the special report in full.