Company Profiles

Refinitiv's Digital Focus, Resilience Pays Off Through Pandemic

Tom Burroughes Group Editor May 5, 2020

Refinitiv's Digital Focus, Resilience Pays Off Through Pandemic

The firm talked to this news service about the huge demands on data transmission during recent weeks, its wealth management strategy and regional build-out in Asia and elsewhere.      

Global data provider Refinitiv, which is being acquired by the London Stock Exchange Group, is working to ensure that wealth managers connect as much as they need with clients during the social distancing restrictions in force around the world, a senior executive says.

The firm, which in January rolled out its flagship solution, Refinitiv Workspace for Wealth Advisors, has been busy in recent months, building out offerings for the wealth sector. Last year’s announcement by the LSEG that it was buying the firm in a $27 billion deal made lots of waves. And getting such market muscle has paid off for a firm seeking to navigate the extraordinary events of 2020.

“These markets have been very challenging.... we have seen record-breaking transaction volumes in recent months as firms deal with unprecedented volatility and navigate these uncertain times”, Joseph Mrak, global head of wealth management at Refinitiv, told this publication in a recent call. 

The firm has tested its systems to get used to the “new normal” of clients and staff working remotely. “It [lockdowns] puts so much more pressure on wealth advisors around the world,” Mrak continued. The switch in fortunes has been dramatic, swinging from low unemployment and robust growth to high jobless rates and a locked-down world. 

“This has all put a big emphasis on the question of `how can I be virtual with my clients’?” Mrak continued. Technological robustness, and the ability to connect clients and advisors easily, are at a premium.

The latest flagship offering – Refinitiv Workspace for Wealth Advisors  – provides market-leading news, research, data, analytics. It can be accessed on any device, so advisors can quickly and efficiently respond and engage with clients when working from home or remotely, which is so critical in these times, said Mrak. 

Busy times
Refinitiv has made plenty of headlines recently, even without the London Stock Exchange deal that sparked widespread commentary, as reported in these pages. Last year, it rolled out extensive HTML-5 responsive widget capabilities in a move to provide easily deployable content and market data to clients and advisors alike. 

This year the focus on digital has continued as the business flagged its wealth sector ambitions by appointing Charles Smith as head of digital solutions, wealth management. In another big move at the start of March, Refinitiv bought Scivantage, a software as a service innovator in fintech. That move was a testament to Refinitiv’s push into next-generation digital wealth management solutions. Refinitiv will be familiar to wealth managers for offerings such as its Eikon range of capabilities that cover cross-asset data and news, analytics and reporting tools. (Another of its offerings is World-Check Risk Intelligence, a solution on its Risk Management platform.) 

The firm is building out its wealth portal solutions through strategic partnerships such as: NRI, SigFig, MarketPsych, Appway, StoneCastle and Sberbank, to add Digital Advice Technology, Automated and Customized Advisory, End-Client Workflows and Enhanced Cash Management Solutions aimed at clearing and self-clearing broker-dealer clients.

Refinitiv has been spreading its regional wings. Fast-growing Asia has been an important market. “It is one of the most important markets and a reason we are so bullish over our digital capabilities,” Mrak said. 

Asia-based clients like the Refinitiv Workspace workflow solution because they can customize it, add their own features and link their own data, bringing the system into their desktop computers. 

“A lot of what we sell is access to our [data] feeds,” Mrak said. “People can go and grab whatever they need. That’s definitely a trend.”

As wealth firms dedicate more resources to modernize their technology stacks and build new workflow capabilities, Refinitiv is providing that flexible access and delivery of data through the Refinitiv Data Platform. “The platform provides clients and third parties with a single and consistent data experience, making it easier for customers to explore, connect to and consume Refinitiv data,” said Mrak. For customers, this means less resources focused on data management, and more time on digital initiatives like analytics and personalization that create true differentiation, Mrak said.

The business also keeps an eye out for suitable acquisitions to build operations where it can, Mrak said. 

The firm has continued to pick up clients. In October Refinitiv signed a multi-year strategic agreement with TP ICAP to support its data needs for both its brokers and technology platforms. In March Bank of China launched DeepFX, an artificial intelligence-based foreign exchange trading signal prediction application through Refinitiv’s Eikon, the first released third-party Eikon app from a China-based financial institution.

And as this news organisation knows, Refinitiv has been a prolific generator of industry white papers, covering issues such as the shape of wealth management and alternative investments. And business partnerships take it into unusual ground. A few days ago, Sansan Inc., the Japanese cloud-based business card management service provider, partnered with Refinitiv to provide World-Check to its customers to enhance screening and support the government’s efforts to combat “anti-social forces (ASF)” or organized crime groups.

Refinitiv’s sheer scale means that it has the resources to let it innovate and be robust during volatile markets, as at the present time, Mrak said. “Being creative around the pandemic’s effects is important – if you cannot adapt then you are not in the game.”

The firm is continuing to work on services to help clients look at their portfolios across the board; it is working on portfolio rebalancing tools and analytics. These remain under-used areas, he added.

Register for FamilyWealthReport today

Gain access to regular and exclusive research on the global wealth management sector along with the opportunity to attend industry events such as exclusive invites to Breakfast Briefings and Summits in the major wealth management centres and industry leading awards programmes