Contributing Firms:
Investor Experience
What are the next major steps to be taken to further develop and streamline the investment journey for investors?

Gerry Brady, Independent Non-Executive Director & Consultant: In this era of social media and online, real-time streaming, the investor experience in the ‘offshore’/international funds industry is somewhat lacking, to say the least. The onboarding experience for many investors is still painful, time-consuming and cumbersome and still set in the last century, rather than leveraging the digital tools currently at our disposal. Our industry is still too much paper based and the provision of online portals, providing real-time access to investment portfolios, is still very limited.

Some will argue that we have stringent regulation - AML, GDPR, etc., and this represents a significant constraint on the digital development of our investment funds industry. However these constraints do not seem to have impeded the growing influence of the online banks, such as Revolut, and the online brokerage/investment firms, such as Degiro.
Meliosa O Caoimh
Meliosa O Caoimh

The ‘offshore’/international funds industry requires a major overhaul and perhaps a radical, starting-from-scratch approach, rather than tinkering with outdated, cumbersome legacy systems, represents the only real solution at this stage to achieving a meaningful and significant advance in the investor experience in our industry. Light years away......

Meliosa O’Caoimh, Country Head, Ireland, Northern Trust: We believe investors, especially the next generation, are seeking a more digitized experience. There remains a need for more digitization of processes across our industry to reduce manual processing, increase online engagement and smooth onboarding experiences for investors – and provide them with better investment journeys.

This need is particularly acute across alternative investments, and private capital funds specifically, which have significantly increased in popularity among investors recently. Here, know-your-customer (KYC) and anti-money laundering (AML) verifications remain predominantly manual and paper-intensive. This manual interaction with the investor slows investment and adds to operational risk.

These trends, coupled with the investor and manager demands for enhanced data experiences, are fueling investment in digitizing our ecosystem to support the evolving needs of the consumer.

At Northern Trust, we are helping our clients reduce manual processes both through automation and the use of digitization to optimize workflows. These developments – alongside investor and manager demand for enhanced data experiences – are driving investment in digitized systems and processes.
Lisa Kealy
Lisa Kealy

For example, Northern Trust is supporting clients with our partnership with Fenergo to digitize onboarding and due diligence for AML/KYC and associated compliance requirements. Our collaboration with Appian enhances the net asset value workflow communications between private capital fund managers and Northern Trust’s teams. By deploying a digital investor onboarding portal we can dramatically reduce the manual processing, as investors complete onboarding securely online.

Lisa Kealy, Partner, EY: Over the last 5 years, we have seen increasing uses of digital platforms used across Europe to improve the investor experience for example online savings plans in Germany which are directed into exchange traded funds.

The EU Retail Investment Strategy has recently been launched, which places the consumers’ interests at the centre of retail investing. Its aim is to empower retail investors to make investment decisions that are aligned with their needs and preferences, ensuring that they are treated fairly and duly protected.

We expect this to improve the retail investors experience in Europe, due to increased transparency and consumer protection, enhanced digitalisation of the investment process and greater access to sustainable investment products.

To further improve the investment process for EU investors, we think steps could be taken to promote financial literacy and education, and to improve the accessibility of investment products to investors.