NEWS: Exploring digital transformation in wealth and asset management

Market Gravity to speak at two-day London event exploring digital opportunities in wealth and asset management

Join business leaders at a two-day event in London aimed at highlighting how wealth and asset managers can implement and get the best out of digital technology through agile working and innovative leadership.

Experts from some of Europe’s top investment management companies will gather to share their experiences of digital transformation and how they use data in new ways to make more intelligent decisions and expand marketing reach.

The event is split into two days (7th and 8th February) with day one comprising a series of workshops followed by a day of keynote presentations, roundtable debates and facilitated panel discussions. Expert speakers include Peter Sayburn, founder and CEO of Market Gravity, who will host an interactive workshop on how to use digital technology to create a highly compelling client offering, putting customers and principles over products. He will share insights on how to build platforms and processes to ensure customers of all age groups love interacting with your organisation, and design products and services that are meaningful and relevant to your audience’s needs.

Peter is an entrepreneur, investor and author who has worked with some of the world’s foremost wealth and asset management businesses. He is passionate in the belief that if large companies are to live and grow in the digital age they must create a culture of innovation and embrace new digital technologies to stay ahead in the competitive marketplace.

Peter says: "Digital technology is bringing new and exciting opportunities to the wealth and asset management sector and now is the time for businesses to embrace the technology and implement new ways of working to engage with customers.

“This event brings together experts to share knowledge, experience and predictions on what’s coming up and highlights how new business models and cultures can improve operations and increase profitability, while meeting customer needs. I’m delighted to be presenting alongside leading innovators and trailblazers within digital transformation and look forward to some lively discussions.”

Jodie Paula Cohen, head of content at Event Creation Network, organised the event and says: “It’s important for the wealth and asset management sector to recognise the potential of digital transformation, technology and agile working to ensure customers are engaged, serviced well and enjoy their experience. A Fidelity report showed that managers who deploy digital technology have 40 per cent more assets under management than those who don’t, so to stay relevant, digital has to be an integral part of their offering. This event aims to inform attendees of the opportunities and offer techniques to put into practice within their organisations to make the most of digital technology.”

The event will run over two days. Workshops take place on Tuesday 7th February at 45 Moorfields, and the second day of presentations on Wednesday 8th are held at 200 Aldersgate, St Paul’s.

As well as Peter Sayburn, speakers include Stephen Ingledew (formerly with Standard Life) and Mary Harper from Standard Life, Billy Burnside from Aviva Investors and Sasha Dabliz from Rothschild Private Wealth.

For a list of sessions and workshops and to book your ticket, http://www.dtiwam-europe.com/index.html


The 'Secret Sauce' series: The Dark Peak

Market Gravity look for something different in the people they recruit. They look for an ability to inject an entrepreneurial spirit into the innovation projects and propositions they’re working on. We call it the ‘secret sauce’ – it’s what makes our approach and the way we help our clients deliver projects different to other consultancies.

But how do we know if someone can inject an entrepreneurial spirit into a big company? Well. A lot of the team at Market Gravity are entrepreneurs in their own right. They’ve started their own businesses outside of Market Gravity – something the company advocates and actively looks for. They know the work it takes to get something off the ground. They are passionate about ideas in the same way as our clients are passionate about theirs. They're able to draw on their experiences in client projects.

Because we love to share, celebrate and support our team's entrepreneurial passions, we're creating a series of blogs about them. This month we chatted to Lee Chapman who's one one of our Senior Consultants specialising in Insight, about his business – The Dark Peak.

Hi Lee, tell us a little about your startup, The Dark Peak.

The Dark Peak is an eCommerce business selling unisex clothing made exclusively using British products and manufacturing. After tracing the life of a typical garment, we believed there was a more economic, environmental and socially sustainable way of producing affordable clothing. That is what we set out to prove. This was reinforced by the idea that people should be able to make an informed judgement about the origin of their clothing and the cost to who of producing it.

 

The Dark Peak sells unisex clothing made exclusively using British products and manufacturing.

 

Where did the idea come from?

I had always wanted to start my own business but in all honesty, The Dark Peak began more as an experiment than a business venture. A friend and I read a story about a company in Yorkshire that still hand-stuffed duck down sleeping bags that were being used for serious expeditions. It amazed us that this type of industry still existed in the UK – very manual, highly skilled, cherished with the community and deeply connected with the past.

We asked ourselves, ‘I wonder what else exists out there?’ Before we knew it, we were travelling the length and breadth of the country visiting hand-knitters, shirt manufacturers and sixth-generation cobblers, all working under a veil of secrecy since the introduction of cheaper global labour, keeping these phenomenal, traditional skills alive.

The business fell out of that. We decided to reject the traditional fashion industry model of producing two collections a year in favour of utilising the downtime in factories between the production of those two collections for major brands – that would typically be a cost base for the manufacturers – to keep production cost of high quality garments as low as possible. That was saving we wanted to pass on to our customers.

Plus, the factories loved us! We were easy to deal with in comparison.

 

Production costs of our high quality garments were kept as low as possible by rejecting the traditional fashion industry model of producing two collections a year, instead utilising factory 'downtime' outside of this period.

 

What did you find most rewarding about the experience?

That first pint after your first sale. That’s pretty rewarding.

What lessons would you give others?

When you’re running your own business, you learn very quickly that bad suppliers don’t exist. If something goes wrong, it’s likely because they have been mismanaged. You can spend your time blaming others when things go wrong but when it’s your own business, that doesn’t help you. Instead, put frameworks in place that enable effective communication of your values and expectations early.

What was most challenging? 

Running a business. That sounds like an odd thing to say but it’s true. The thought of running your own business is such a wonderful idea but it’s anything but easy.

My co-founder and I used to joke between ourselves because when we incorporated the company, the two of us became directors in the business; he had a real flare and capacity for all things creative, so he naturally took on the role of ‘creative director’ but I was the ‘director of everything else’. Funnily enough, everything else is a lot of stuff: sales, marketing, supply chain, wholesale, logistics, finance, regulation. The list goes on.

Getting to grips with that stuff was the biggest challenge for me and for a very long time, we had no other option but to find shortcuts for absolutely everything in order to keep things ticking over.

Funniest anecdote?

People see the fashion industry as an extremely glamorous industry. We never referred to ourselves as a fashion business but people, none the less, had that expectation of us. One week, we were visiting one of our favourite manufacturers, based in the beautiful coastal village of Flamborough. Despite her very generous offer of a bed for the night, we stayed at one of nearby Bridlington’s finest establishments, three to a room. Far from the champagne lifestyle, we found ourselves drinking pints of John Smith’s in the hotel bar, watching a part-time magician entertain a room of people exclusively 50 years our senior. Amidst all the furore, we sat in silence. We looked at each other and just laughed until we cried. I think we all questioned our decision to start a business at that point.

How has the experience helped you at Market Gravity?

Starting, building and scaling a business can an extremely emotional experience. I suspect most people who have done it – for themselves, or somebody else – would vouch for that. Dealing with that emotional roller coaster is not something you can teach somebody but it’s certainly something you can support people with. I know from experience that having that person there when things feel like they’re going to the wall can be the difference between success and failure.

 

We learnt quickly to put frameworks in place that enable effective communication of our values and expectations early on. That was a valuable lesson and something I encourage anyone else to do when setting up a new venture.

 

If you'd like to talk over any ideas you have to launch a new proposition or how to overcome innovation challenges you're facing- get in touch.

lee.chapman@marketgravity.com

Find Lee on LinkedIn

You can find the The Dark Peak website which is a live project in progress here.


NEWS: New Year Business Resolutions: 5 trends that will transform working practices in 2017

New and rapidly developing ways of working are set to transform businesses - both big and small in 2017. As technology continues to disrupt and advance, businesses must react to these challenges with both speed and agility and adopt the latest thinking and working practices, if they are to survive.

Market Gravity's co-founder and CEO, Pete Sayburn, shares his insight into the latest thinking and ways of working that businesses should be looking to deploy in 2017 and how he and the Market Gravity team have successfully been using these techniques to help their clients grow and transform their businesses.

Design sprints

“Sprints as a concept has gained fast traction in both the UK and US since three partners from Google Ventures published, “Sprint: How To Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days” earlier this year.

Design sprints enable companies to go from an idea to a launch that’s live in customers’ hands in days and weeks, rather than months. Let's say you have a business challenge that needs to be addressed. From experience you know that it will take weeks- if not months- to mobilise the business into action. But instead of creating a massive programme and stretching out the work, you launch a proposition in days. You make decisions quickly and within ten days, you move from idea to prototype. From a prototype you find rapid ways to go live and experiment. You learn from real customers, with real data. This saves your business time and unnecessary cost. And it gives much needed confidence to invest before you scale.

Market Gravity recently worked with Standard Life on 20 day mission-based design sprints which explored ways to increase the retention of one of Standard Life’s customer segments.

Steven Ingledew from Standard Life said, “We wanted to launch a disruptive solution quickly, but one that would have minimal impact on our core technology systems. By using the sprint method introduced to us and run by the team at Market Gravity, we have found one. A small empowered team, or squad as a sprint team is called was brought together to respond to the challenge we’d set, with a constraint that was time boxed. The result of the experiment was the development of The Financial Butler, a new smart chat interface which were able to get in the hands of a small number of customers, in a real environment with real data before scaling it.”

Mission culture and mindsets

“Alongside the sprint technique, organisations need to pursue a mission in 2017, not simply set a scope. They need to adopt a 'mission culture', which focuses on empowering people to make decisions and organises people around a business challenge, with a constraint that’s time-boxed.

This group of people takes on the ‘mission mindset’. The mission mindset enables expedited decisions, not long committee-led debates. Culture should be at the heart of any company's transformational change. It is people who deliver change, not processes.

Mission culture is already driving change and real innovation within the new breed of challenger brands in the financial services market such as Clydesdale Yorkshire Banking Group with their digital banking platform- B, which launched earlier this year.”

Squads

“Simply forming working teams is old hat. The new approach for choosing an effective group that will be charged with achieving a mission within a certain timeframe is “squad”. They aren’t just a team, they’re a squad whose mission it is to deliver the sprint and build a new proposition, without being distracted by their day-today job roles.

Ideally, the squad will be built from a diverse group of people of differing skillsets, genders and diversity. The more diverse the group are, the more likely they are to bring about positive innovation outcomes for the business.

A squad has a high degree of freedom (agility) with the choices they make within the mission. They can make quick decisions and flex the process as much as they need to in order to achieve it and they aren’t constrained by the normal rules of the business.”

Customer co-development

Customer co-development means involving customers at every stage of the journey when creating new propositions. It’s not enough to just generate one set of customer data at the outset for research and insight purposes. We’ve identified that constant communication and partnership with customers brings better results for businesses in the long run.”

It’s about creating the right culture where consumers are at the heart of propositions. The more exposed your customers are to every aspect of the design stage and prototyping, the more likely the project is to succeed when it goes live.

For example, at Market Gravity we did this successfully with AA recently when we asked a selection of customers to keep diaries on behalf of their cars throughout the year. This enabled them us to help their team design a new service informed by a steady stream of live customer data related to their vehicles.

Sandboxing

“Sandboxing is about creating a safe place where you can innovate and create new ideas for your business - without consequences. It gives you the space and environment to create something and experiment. Creating “a sandbox environment” often means physically removing businesses from their office environment or HQ in order to achieve success.

But why sandbox part of your business? Businesses are not always set up to allow for innovation. Or they have the ideas but lack the mindset, speed, skills and environment required to get them out of the door quickly. In addition, there’s an ongoing business to run which can mean there isn’t always internal resource available to work on these types of ideas. That’s where companies like ours come in – we effectively create start-ups within their companies. Sandbox environments that allow us to play, reinvent and re-imagine projects.

Sandboxes are becoming increasingly important in the financial sector as it is subject to frequent regulatory changes. Sandboxing creates am environment for financial services firms in which to play and develop their proposition using customer data.

 

Read about the 10 benefits of sprints here.

 

If you’d like to understand more about these trends and how you can use them to grow your business, get in touch.

peter.sayburn@marketgravity.com