Digital Wealth Solutions Pioneer Quantifeed Steps Up the Pace in APAC, Sets Sights on EMEA
The speed of expansion and the pace of its own funding programme did not slow down for Quantifeed during the worst of the pandemic. Nor are they slowing down now. The Hong Kong-based developer of digital wealth management solutions has recently closed its Series C funding, providing fuel to propel its ambitious growth plans. Hubbis met with Co-Founder and CEO Alex Ypsilanti to learn more about Quantifeed’s offering, its success stories and plans. He said the company would forge ahead into the wealth management community with QEngine.QEngine is a platform that allows wealth managers to create new digital channels for customers and increase the productivity of their advisors and portfolio managers. Alex shared that Quantifeed is expanding from retail and mass affluent wealth segments into the HNW market. He reported that their strong position in APAC will soon offer an ideal springboard for expansion into other wealth markets.
Alex focuses on the firm’s May 2022 announcement of its Series C funding round led by HSBC Asset Management, supported by Daiwa PI Partners and earlier shareholders, including global asset manager Franklin Templeton and global investment firm LUN Partners Group.
“The new funding underlines the strength and growth trajectory of Quantifeed,” he says. “We will use the funds to strengthen solutions for advisors, portfolio managers, and end customers. We will also enrich our portfolio design, advice, and trading engines, enabling wealth management across a broader set of asset classes including structured products, private equity, and digital assets. We are also hiring more talent across the Asia-Pacific region, particularly Japan and Southeast Asia.”
The power under the hood
Quantifeed’s QEngine platform powers personalised and engaging wealth management journeys for banks, insurers, brokers, and wealth planners. Combining software engineering and quantitative finance, the company’s mission is to help transform financial institutions into providers of ‘wealthcare’.
Quantifeed operates in Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, Australia, and India, and has deployed QEngine to some of Asia’s largest financial institutions, including DBS Bank in Singapore, MUFG Bank in Japan, Cathay United Bank in Taiwan, China CITIC Bank International in Hong Kong, and Kiatnakin Phatra in Thailand.
The wealth market’s evolution
Alex observes that changes are taking place as banks and wealth managers across the region seek to leverage their client bases. Banks want to deliver effortless and convenient solutions at scale that are personalised to their customers’ needs. Quantifeed, he shares, is at the helm of helping those institutions achieve that through self-directed, advisor-led and DPM digital solutions that are powered by their award-winning QEngine platform.
Wealthcare for everyone
“Our mission is to help financial institutions become providers of wealthcare, a customer-centric wealth management service that makes investing easier, more accessible and relatable for everyone,” Alex said. “The capital we raised will help strengthen our existing leadership in the automated generation and implementation of financial advice.”
Ross Milward, Co-Founder and CTO of Quantifeed stated in the May 2022 press release that Quantifeed’s success to date has been built from strong financial engineering expertise and a focus on scaling delivery to multiple clients and markets. He said the new money would help accelerate innovation and provide clients with rich capabilities and deployment options across cloud and enterprise.
Moving up the wealth spectrum
Alex explains that part of the proceeds will be employed to help the platform expand further across the wealth spectrum from their traditional mass affluent focus and into the realm of private banking clientele.
“We continue to focus heavily on retail and mass affluent, but in recent years we have created a strong set of use cases and track record helping private banks and IFA platforms scale their service of high net worth segments,” he explains.
He adds that the funding is also part of an expanding strategic relationship with HSBC and with Daiwa Securities, as both strive to continue to digitise their wealth management businesses. “We were delighted to see a healthy balance of new investors, big names, and existing shareholders who believe in our growth potential,” he reports.
In particular, he points to the company’s recent successes in broadening the proposition and the use cases beyond what people might think of as “traditional robo”. Alex shares,
“We're now powering platforms that are a lot more hybrid in nature. We are automating processes and enabling businesses to scale in areas where the human element is still important.”
Whether it’s for investment professionals building portfolios, or advisors selling portfolios on a discretionary basis, QEngine is in the background helping automate and simplify the portfolio management process.
Expanding the proposition
The concept beyond pure robo has certainly shown investors and other stakeholders that there is more to digitising wealth management than simply providing a nice looking app that recommends portfolios. “Many propositions end at the advice stage, and don’t focus enough on the execution of the advice and its post-sales management. Clients expect an end-to-end journey that automates activities such as portfolio purchases and rebalances without any manual processing,” Alex observes.
“Automating and scaling the execution of advice is a nuanced and complex process – and that is something Quantifeed is really strong at.”
Additionally, he says the company remains committed to an open architecture model, integrating with clients’ existing order management systems rather than dictating third-party partners to its clients. “The open architecture has really helped us move in with some big financial institutions who like the flexibility and agility we provide.”
Successful Use Cases in the Region
Alex reels off a list of successes, one of which has been working with Singapore’s DBS Bank to help sell discretionary portfolio management services to their retail and ‘Treasures’ customer segment. “This is an example of the scaling of digital engagement through a self-directed online solution,” he shares.
Other successful engagements have been for Taiwan’s Cathay United Bank in delivering its ‘CathayRobo’, as well as helping devise and power China CITIC Bank International’s ‘Robo360’ offering. These add further evidence that portfolio management can be delivered digitally and at scale to the retail and mass affluent segments which are rapidly expanding in Asia.
Modernising traditional approaches
Another key area, he reports, is advisor-led, with Quantifeed helping banks to continue selling wealth management services via the high-touch model that the industry was based on. Quantifeed’s Advisor-Led solution helps advisors to be more productive, giving them digital tools to advise and service clients, as well as execute on investment proposals.
“The mission is to make advisors more capable and efficient in front of a client by leveraging automation, thereby offering better service,” Alex shares. “We do this by automating some of the processes that advisors have to go through, and empowering them to provide unique and relevant investment journeys to their clients. Rather than simply pushing product, the goal is to meet the clients’ needs, whether it be retirement planning, saving for their children’s education, finding special products to enhance yield or reduce portfolio risks, and more.”
Alex explains that from the perspective of the wealth management community at large, he plans to strengthen the private banking and EAM proposition, including expanding the product and instrument sets that QEngine supports to include structured products. A second goal is to further build out the capability around the execution of advice, portfolio rebalancing, and the full spectrum of order and trade management. The third priority is to expand the talent pool in Japan and Southeast Asia to cater for and propel further growth in those markets.
“To scale the organisation, we need more people selling the proposition and working closely with clients. Then we can refine exactly where and how QEngine will help them,” he explains. “Japan is especially interesting. We have strong shareholders there and we have been working with MUFG, Japan’s largest bank, to help deliver an app that allows young and novice investors to invest in professionally-designed portfolios. Japan offers great potential for us.”
APAC and beyond
Alex says the company now spans much of Asia through a team numbering over 100 people, many of whom are based in Hong Kong and the others across offices in Singapore, Tokyo, Sydney and India. The company’s deep expertise in Asia has secured their success. He adds that it’s due to understanding the region, the nuances of each market and customer segment, and a firm grasp of local regulatory and compliance requirements.
“We are expanding across all areas,” he reports, “and we do so specifically with the client needs and objectives in mind. We do this through a proprietary and well-honed process we call QDiscovery. Ultimately, we sell a technology platform that is off the shelf, but the way it is configured is unique to each institution. This was we can help our client launch propositions quickly and efficiently”
Alex is highly confident that the product offering and the team are now strong enough to begin looking at opportunities beyond Asia. “We have cemented our position in Asia Pacific, and we have a great springboard for growth elsewhere. We are particularly interested in opportunities across EMEA,” he concludes.
As Co-Founder and CEO of Quantifeed, Alex Ypsilanti spearheads Quantifeed’s mission to solve the challenges of digital wealth management.
Before co-founding Quantifeed, he spent 15 years as an investment banking research analyst. His work enabled investors to improve their risk-adjusted returns and to gain access to a wider range of market strategies and risk premia. Alex gained a reputation as a top-ranked analyst by Institutional Investor and had a leading role in the growth of the European ETF market, hedge fund replication, and the use of volatility products in portfolios.
He became Managing Director for Morgan Stanley and Bank of America Merrill Lynch, building and leading teams of derivatives and quantitative strategists in London, Tokyo and Hong Kong.
Alex holds Bachelor's and Master’s degrees in Information Systems Engineering and a PhD in Mathematical Finance from Imperial College, University of London.
Alex hails from London and grew up in Greece until his university days and spent most of his career in London until moving to Asia in 2010. “Moving to the region was a key turning point. It’s been amazing to experience the diversity, growth and energy of the Asia markets,” he says. “In 2013 I became fascinated by the idea of using technology to automate and personalise investment services for retail investors. This inspiration led to the idea of Quantifeed as a platform for a modern-world digital wealth proposition. Since Ross and I launched Quantifeed, we have not looked back.”
Spare time is spent with the family, exploring Hong Kong’s trails or relaxing with a good book in hand. He says he is also somewhat of a film aficionado, and particularly enjoyed the most recent Top Gun movie and Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog starring the inimitable Benedict Cumberbatch.
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