2024 Resolutions: Means vs. Ends - A Business Leader's Perspective

5 Minutes

We’re almost through the first quarter of 2024, and the airwaves are still buzzing with predictions about the major trends that will dominate our business landscape. Consultants, advisors, and thought leaders offer a plethora of “means” to navigate this complex terrain – AI, digital transformation, sustainability… the list goes on. But amidst this information overload, a crucial question arises: are these experts truly addressing the “ends” that matter most to business leaders?

This analysis summarises the major trends identified in various industry publications, providing a comprehensive business outlook for 2024 – the “means”.

Seven Key Themes – The “means”

  1. Artificial Intelligence (AI): The emergence of Generative AI is a dominant theme, impacting all business functions. Experts emphasise the need for proactive integration of AI at the core of operations, not as an afterthought.
  2. Economic Landscape: Prolonged high-interest rates and inflation in the first half of the year, coupled with slower progress, necessitate strategic adaptation for businesses to maintain growth.
  3. Sustainability: Environmental and social sustainability require significant investments. Businesses are urged to accelerate their transition and embed climate change initiatives into their core strategies.
  4. Talent Acquisition: The ongoing “war for talent” necessitates focused strategies to attract and retain top talent for business success.
  5. Digital Transformation: Leveraging technology for intelligent automation and digital transformation is critical to avoid falling behind competitors.
  6. Geopolitical Risks: Potential disruptions due to global conflict are anticipated, impacting supply chains, resources, and energy prices. Companies need to build resilience to weather these challenges, particularly in a year with widespread global elections.
  7. Data Management: Publications highlight the importance of data as a distinct focus area beyond digital transformation. Businesses should prioritise data security, governance, and utilisation for informed decision-making.

However, our analysis of industry publications reveals a disconnect between the “means” prescribed (above) and the “ends” desired by executives. While the predictions paint a picture of necessary transformations, they often neglect the fundamental question: what do we realistically want to achieve this year?  

Executives crave practical guidance on achieving specific outcomes, not just a list of challenges and technologies.

The “ends”

Here’s a closer look at the “ends” driving business leaders in 2024:

  1. Fit-for-Purpose Operating Models: Businesses need to ensure their core structures are adaptable and efficient in a volatile environment. Leaders must prioritise reforming their operating models, to remain competitive and building a solid foundation before layering on technology.
  2. Cost Control and Efficiency: Reducing costs and driving efficiency are paramount in a challenging economic climate. While AI promises automation, executives seek immediate solutions like streamlined processes and improved productivity, especially in the post-pandemic hybrid work model.
  3. Balancing Sustainability and Stakeholder Value: Executives acknowledge the importance of climate change and responsible practices, but concerns about regulatory burdens and cost implications often overshadow immediate action. Strategic investments are prioritised when balancing sustainability with stakeholder expectations.
  4. Navigating Regulatory Burdens: Overregulation is seen as a major hurdle, adding costs and hindering agility. Businesses seek a more balanced approach that ensures compliance while fostering innovation and customer satisfaction.
  5. Customer Centricity at its Core: Attracting and retaining customers in a competitive landscape remains a top priority. Businesses must go beyond cost-cutting, focusing on quality, ethical practices, and a seamless customer experience.
  6. Building Resilience for the Future: Adaptability and robustness are crucial in today’s ever-changing world. Executives see AI and other trends as potential tools, but not the only answer. Nurturing internal innovation and building resilience across all dimensions is key.

The takeaway? Business leaders are actively strategising, but they prioritise practicality and outcomes over theoretical trends. They crave guidance on how to achieve their specific goals, not just a list of “what” to do. In this uncertain environment, focusing on building capacity, formulating clear strategies, and delivering tangible results will be key to success.

So, what about you? Are you focusing on the “means” or the “ends” in your 2024 resolutions?


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Navigating the future: AI's impact on wealth management firms

5 Minutes

In recent months, the financial services industry has witnessed significant advancements in artificial intelligence (AI), sparking both excitement and apprehension amongst wealth managers. While the potential benefits of AI are undeniable, the wealth management sector has been understandably cautious in embracing this transformative technology. This hesitation can be attributed to several factors, including a prioritisation of addressing critical gaps in services, concerns about client relationships, and the unique needs of different market segments. 

In this blog, we explore the hopes and fears of integrating AI in wealth management, balancing the potential savings and efficiencies that can come from technological advancement alongside the concerns over an erosion of personalised client services. 

Back office transformation

The potential for improved efficiency through AI and machine learning is substantial, particularly in areas like automating trade settlements, automating regulatory compliance, and risk management.

However, within the technology function of many wealth management firms, the primary focus often relates to implementing new traditional services and upgrades to address key operational gaps. Implementing non-AI solutions to enhance services such as regulatory compliance, Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG), Customer Relationship Management (CRM), and digital services are typically considered more important and lower risk. 

Because of the potentially significant benefits and the remarkable pace of change in AI, we believe that wealth management firms should put aside time and budget in 2024 to carefully evaluate the potential efficiencies and cost savings offered by AI, balancing these against the benefits of their current project portfolio. This assessment will help determine if prioritising AI integration is a strategic move that aligns with their operational goals.

Front office dilemma

We are starting to see the emergence of more AI-powered tools that can transform the front office experience for wealth managers and their clients. Early adoption of these innovations has the potential to allow client advisors and relationship managers to better serve “mass affluent” clients. Use of AI in this environment could combine the advantages of a human-led personalised service and advisor judgement with the scalability and insights that AI can provide. 

However, implementation of AI in the front office remains a challenge. Securing funding to develop new AI capabilities requires proof of value to the organisation and clients. Wealth managers must also weigh up the benefits against factors such as data and integration challenges, evolving financial services regulations for AI, and the perceived lack of trust from clients in insights generated from AI.

Industry evolution

We believe a small number of early adopting wealth managers armed with AI capabilities are likely to start disrupting the industry at some point in the next year. Developing a strategy, plan, and business case for AI integration is important to avoid being left too far behind.

Key considerations

  1. Early adoption dilemma: The decision to be an early mover or a follower with respect to AI in the wealth management market needs careful consideration of the associated risks and rewards.
  2. Barriers to progress: For those who decide to invest in AI, there are some foundational elements that could act as barriers to AI progress if not addressed:
  • Data governance and quality: Building a foundation of sound data governance and ensuring data quality is imperative for effective AI implementation. This discipline is important in any organisation but vital to get the best out of AI solutions.
  • Robust data infrastructure: Modern platforms with adaptability to change swiftly are most suitable to form the backbone of successful AI integration.
  1. Skilled resources: The availability of appropriately skilled individuals is critical for navigating the complexities of enterprise AI.


As the wealth management sector contemplates the role of AI, a delicate balance must be struck between embracing innovation and preserving the personal touch that defines many client relationships. While challenges exist, we believe that the potential rewards in terms of cost savings, productivity gains, and enhanced client experiences will make the journey towards AI integration worthwhile.  Wealth managers should consider their strategy for when and how to look at the opportunities that AI can provide for them to ensure that they don’t fall behind their competitors.

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