Interview

«Finance is becoming increasingly accessible to all»

Serge Kassibrakis, Head of Quantitative Asset Management at Swissquote, analyses the way in which access to financial services is becoming increasingly generalised. Driven by fintechs, it is now becoming possible for everyone to benefit from trading tools.

What are your thoughts on what we can call the “generalisation” of finance? Today, with the rise of fintechs and the new tools that are available, it seems like anyone can become a trader.

It is true that in the current context, anyone could become a trader. I say “could” because having access to trading tools is not sufficient. Some knowledge is still required. A person cannot become a trader overnight. But we do note that financial services are becoming more and more accessible. At Swissquote, this happened in three phases. The first consisted of making financial information available to as many people as possible. The second step consisted of making the stock market directly accessible to our retail trader clients. And lastly, we developed IT portfolio management tools geared to our clients.

With regard to the these new management tools, how do you feel about the development of robo-advisors?

These new tools represent a tremendous opportunity for Switzerland. With the end of banking secrecy, the Swiss financial market found itself in a situation where it needed renewal. I would also like to specify that the arrival of robo-advisors should not be perceived by finance professionals as a threat. On the contrary, they constitute new technical means that allow asset managers, private bankers or advisers to focus more on market views and client relationships while automating the numerous administrative and regulatory processes that can take up a lot of time. There is real synergy to be harnessed between these technologies and sector professionals.

For a finance professional, what are the advantages in using this type of tool?

First of all, we can start by saying that a robo-advisor is in fact an optimisation algorithm that is triggered at regular time intervals in the aim to optimise a client’s portfolio. Some robots, like ePrivateBanking, have the ability to react to market events. For it to function correctly, we configure it according to very specific parameters in line with the client’s targeted investment strategy, their areas of interest or even their level of risk aversion. By using this type of tool, sector professionals can save quite a bit of time, as the processes that need to be carried out relating to compliance or placing orders become automated. They can thus focus on configuring the robot, market analysis, and acquiring new clients. In fact, robo-advisors allow the tasks of finance professionals to be redefined. And by reducing the costs of their services, they also enable a new type of clientele to access them.

In that sense, what are the advantages from a client’s point of view?

Previously, finance was mainly reserved for a particularly wealthy clientele. Now, the system is less elitist, and people with tens or hundreds of thousands of francs to invest can also access financial services. And for clients, benefiting from robo-advisors guarantees that their orders will always be executed in accordance with their investment strategy and risk aversion.

I believe that sustainability is likely to become an increasingly important investment criteria for clients

The rise of fintechs thus represents a significant opportunity for the Swiss marketplace. What do you have to say about sustainable finance, another fast-growing area?

Sustainable finance is also developing strongly and is sure to take on a far bigger role. Companies’ activities are increasingly regulated and dictated by ecological standards. I would also add that the development of sustainable finance will certainly prevent the market economy from heading to collapse over the long term. Moreover, from the point of view of quantitative asset management, I have to say that investment opportunities in sustainable finance exist, but are very thin.

Have you already observed interest from your clients in this segment of finance?

Interest in sustainable finance is still rather disreet. And I do not see demand pointing this way in particular. However, with the tools we offer, it is already possible for a client to search for and identify sustainable funds and eliminate those that are not. I think that sustainability certainly could become an increasingly important investment criteria for clients. It is up to us to offer them solutions so that they can efficiently incorporate it.

published by Smart Media dans Focus Business Solutions