'Technology will complement personalised banking services'
February 18, 2018 | 5:04 PM
by Syed Haitham Hasan/[email protected]
Patrick Odier, Chairman of the Board of Geneva-based Lombard Odier. - Supplied picture

Muscat: Adoption of technology and digital transformation are expected to complement, and not replace, personalised banking services in the future, an official of private Swiss bank Lombard Odier said.

With a rise in digital technology and data analytics, most industries, including the banking sector, are undergoing major changes to serve clients better with less human interaction and high precision. Patrick Odier, Chairman of the Board of Geneva-based Lombard Odier, however, expressed the belief that technology was unlikely to replace personal services and would only aid in better decision making.

“Technology is certainly going to change the banking sector in the future. Technologies such as analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), and big data can give us insights that are difficult for humans to calculate, but in the end, a human should make decisions based on the information this technology provides. Moreover, personalised services are going to play the most important role in attracting client confidence in the future, especially in wealth management,” he said.

A family business that originated more than 200 years ago in 1796, Lombard Odier is now being managed by the seventh generation of the Odier family. The firm has survived more than 40 economic downturns and specialises in wealth management services for private and institutional clients. According to Odier, the company acknowledged the disruption expected by technology back in 1990s and, has since, implemented it to increase revenues in both client and technology services.

He further said: “The aim should be to understand the clients’ wider ambitions regarding their wealth. You need to be a part of their lives to do that. This is exactly what we do at Lombard Odier. We use technology to aid their investment portfolio and provide personalised services. We know all our clients and meet them regularly at social events, rather than only at business events."

"While technology will continue to increase in business lines, we will infuse it into our personal services to help our clients achieve their goals. With a personal touch to our services, we replicate our client's feelings. So, if they make profit, we are happy, but if they don’t, it affects us as well. This is something that should be a regular practice for banks,” Odier added.

He also remarked that his company managed to cushion the negative impact on client assets during any financial crisis through a diversified investment portfolio and by maintaining a consistent growth trajectory, with resistance to shocks while understanding client needs.

“Sometimes, clients want a more robust return on investment. So, we do it while advising on the risks they may incur. If we see a client is ready to go for it, we do it accordingly, using our expertise to provide the best returns,” he explained.

Speaking about the Omani market where Lombard Odier has been operating for the last 50 years, Christophe Lalandre, Managing Director of Lombard Odier-Dubai, said the Sultanate has been a very important client.

“The banking sector remains robust in Oman even with economic issues in the region. We believe that as Oman has the most business, nearly 85 per cent held by business families, it is a perfect place for our operations,” he said.

According to Odier, the market looked good in the short- to mid-term but there were uncertainties in the long-term and that was something the bank was working on to provide a better investment picture to its clients.

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