Will the Digital Future of Wealth Management in Malaysia Cater to All?

Will the Digital Future of Wealth Management in Malaysia Cater to All?

by October 24, 2023

The wealth management landscape has significantly transformed in Malaysia and worldwide. The advent of digital technology and changing investor behaviours have opened up new opportunities for wealth managers. 

This panel discussion, titled “Reshaping the Future of Digital Wealth in Malaysia,” brings together industry experts to illuminate this evolving landscape. 

Moderated by Roshan Kanesan, the panel at the Fintech Frontiers Conference featured insights from Mohd Azlan Masood, Chief Operating Officer of Amanah Saham Nasional Berhad (ASNB); Scarlett Chai, Country Manager of Luno Malaysia; Ian W. Lloyd, Chief Digital Officer of Kenanga Investment Bank Berhad; and Wong Wai Ken, Country Manager of StashAway Malaysia, winner of Fintech Frontiers Awards 2023 Top Wealthtech Startup award.

The digital wealth journey

Wong Wai Ken, the Country Manager of StashAway Malaysia, started the discussion by reflecting on the journey of digital wealth management since the inception of StashAway in 2018.

He highlighted the challenges of venturing into the fintech space, emphasising that the difficulty is an inherent part of the journey. 

“StashAway has established a significant presence in the Malaysian market, currently overseeing assets exceeding one billion dollars on behalf of more than 100,000 clients,”

said Wai Ken.

He noted that while the ways clients invest and build wealth have evolved, the fundamental desire for their investments to grow remains constant.

Scarlett Chai, Country Manager of Luno Malaysia, added that clients want to know if their money is safe and can trust the platform.

She stressed that communication plays a vital role in building trust and that the challenge lies in understanding complex concepts like algorithmic trading and Artificial Intelligence (AI). Trust is a continuous effort that digital platforms need to work on, especially in the ever-changing world of finance.

AI in wealth management

Ian W. Lloyd, Chief Digital Officer at Kenanga Investment Bank Berhad, shared insights into integrating AI into their digital wealth management platform, Kenanga Digital Investing (KDI).

He explained how algorithmic trading and portfolio management have become essential tools to provide retail customers access to professionally managed portfolios at a lower cost of entry. 

Kenanga’s approach relies on data and automation, minimising human intervention while ensuring clients’ safety and risk profiles.

Ian emphasised the importance of AI in creating curated investment solutions and hinted at ongoing developments in algorithm portfolios.

The panel also addressed the challenge of communicating the benefits of AI to clients. Ken highlighted the need to focus on delivering results and building trust, as clients ultimately want to know if the product works, regardless of the technology behind it.

Crypto and digital wealth

Reshaping the Future of Digital Wealth in Malaysia

Scarlett Chai (middle)

Scarlett shed light on Luno’s role in the crypto space in Malaysia, with over 800,000 users by the end of 2022. 

She emphasised Luno’s mission to make crypto accessible to everyone while maintaining compliance with regulatory requirements. 

Scarlett outlined some of Luno’s product offerings, such as a multibuy for diversification and a referral program to encourage user adoption. She also announced the addition of Polygon (MATIC) to Luno’s crypto offerings.

Balancing tradition and innovation

While ASNB, one of the largest fund managers in Malaysia, has a rich history spanning over 40 years, its commitment to embracing digital platforms to elevate customer experiences has never wavered.

Mohd Azlan Masood, Chief Operating Officer of ASNB, discussed the organisation’s longstanding history and its enduring relevance, likening it to the sentiment of probably being the dinosaur inside this room.

Mohd Azlan highlighted the importance of balancing digital channels with traditional ones to cater to a diverse demographic.

“ASNB aims to ensure that customers are channel-agnostic and can access its services across various platforms,”

he said.

Integrating digital and traditional channels

The discussion turned to the challenges of balancing digital and traditional channels, a common theme across the panellists’ organisations. 

Wai Ken emphasised that both channels have roles, and keeping all stakeholders happy is crucial, from customers to agents and regulators. 

Ian echoed this sentiment, noting that agents and advisers still provide valuable advice and support to clients, making them an essential part of the equation.

Navigating the New Frontier

The digital landscape poses unique challenges, and one of the foremost considerations is identifying and effectively targeting the right market.

Scarlett articulated that the digital wealth management industry cannot simply focus on a young demographic but must also cater to digitally adept individuals. 

One of the pivotal aspects of this journey is digital marketing. Scarlett acknowledged that acquiring customers can be costly, especially considering the market’s competitive nature. Luno Malaysia has been proactive in customer acquisition efforts over the years.

The human element in wealth management is another critical aspect that cannot be overlooked. Scarlett highlighted the importance of providing a human touchpoint in the digital-first approach. 

While digital tools are invaluable, it is equally essential to provide customers with reassurance and support when needed.

Luno Malaysia has adopted an educational-first approach, ensuring customers can access comprehensive and easily digestible resources through their Help Center articles and video content. This approach enables both novice and experienced investors to access information seamlessly. 

“Luno Malaysia invests in customer support teams with the right skills and technical knowledge to assist customers through various channels, including email, live chat, and calls,”

said Scarlett.

“We have introduced an AI-powered chatbot to respond quickly to customer queries. This multi-pronged approach ensures that Luno Malaysia can offer support tailored to the unique needs of its users,”

she added.

Navigating the challenges

Reshaping the Future of Digital Wealth in Malaysia

Ian delved into the challenges associated with digital marketing and customer support. 

He pointed out that digital marketing has evolved significantly, with changes such as the increasing difficulty of retargeting due to enhanced privacy measures taken by tech giants like Apple and Android. These changes have made digital marketing more expensive and complex.

Ian stressed the importance of understanding that not all customers are the same regarding customer support. Customers are in different stages of their investment journey, from beginners to experienced investors.

Kenanga Investment Bank Berhad focuses on cultivating the right behaviours in investors, tailoring their support and content to individual customer needs. 

This approach helps investors make informed decisions aligned with their financial goals.

Wai Ken emphasised the importance of patience. In a digital wealth landscape, patience is vital, especially considering the long-term nature of investing. While there may be market fluctuations and uncertainties, maintaining a consistent, patient approach is critical for success. 

He also highlighted that despite the challenges, the digital wealth industry in Malaysia is still in its nascent stages, with significant room for growth.

Patience in digital wealth

The panellists unanimously agreed that digital wealth in Malaysia and the region is a waiting game in many respects. Building trust and adapting to market demands take time. 

Mohd Azlan emphasised that while trust is a crucial factor, traditional institutions must adapt to embrace digital offerings fully. The younger generation expects convenient, mobile-first solutions, and institutions must cater to this demand. 

He pointed out that ASNB is actively exploring digital solutions while collaborating with fintech partners to remain competitive and relevant in the evolving landscape.

Future catalysts for digital wealth

As the discussion drew to a close, the panellists contemplated the future catalysts for digital wealth in Malaysia.

Scarlett highlighted the need for user-friendly mobile applications, easily digestible content, and continued collaboration with regulators to drive growth in the sector. She stressed the importance of simplifying access to digital wealth management for the wider population.

Ian emphasised that trust and risk management will continue to be pivotal in the industry’s growth. Financial institutions must continue to provide these essential services to clients, ensuring their investments are secure and well-managed.

Wai Ken urged industry players to democratise access to financial tools and position themselves as gatekeepers who provide expertise to guide customers toward their best interests. He emphasised the importance of serving as responsible stewards of customers’ wealth.

As the industry continues to evolve, innovation, education, and patience will be the keys to unlocking its full potential and reshaping the future of digital wealth in the region. 

The stage is set for a dynamic and transformative era in wealth management, and stakeholders must be prepared to adapt and thrive in this evolving landscape.

Watch the full “Reshaping the Future of Digital Wealth in Malaysia” at the Fintech Frontiers Conference