Wealth Management Still a ‘People’s Business,’ New Regions Exec Says

Danella,_KateDigital advisory — a.k.a. robo advisory — is a trend to “watch closely,” according to Kate Randall Danella, Regions Bank’s newest head of private wealth management. But adoption by the bank is likely years away.

It’s a space we are watching closely and having conversations now. We look into how to use digital capabilities to expand and on your advisory services. We are more in the discovery phase of watching and learning right now, and I would say it’s going to be another four to five years before we see a widespread adoption of this technology across the industry. This has always been, and will always be, a people’s business. Can technology help? Absolutely, but any sort of tech has to be a part of full solution, and that’s going to be a multi-year shift.

Danella officially stepped into her new role on Tuesday, after serving as a wealth strategy and effectiveness executive at Regions since 2015. She will be responsible for leading a team of private wealth management professionals providing banking, trust and investment management services to high-net-worth individuals and families.

For my team, and Regions in general, we have implemented a pretty rigorous and thorough strategic planning process, where we look at our businesses to make sure we are evolving and identifying opportunities in fintech trends in the marketplace,” she told Bank Innovation. “A big part of my focus will be maintaining that strategy.”

Robo advisory — an algorithm-based, automated wealth management service that can potentially reduce the need for (generally well compensated) financial planners — has generated quite a bit of interest among the traditional FIs. Most recently, San Francisco-based robo advisor SigFig scored a deal with UBS Wealth Management to create and customize digital tools for WMA’s 7,000 advisors. The tools will “complement” the existing expertise of UBS advisors, and not form a separate automated platform.

The cost-cutting benefits of robo-advisers appear to be enticing, and a growing number of FIs will continue looking into ways to adopt the technology, SigFig’s CEO Mike Sha, said at the recent Consensus 2016 conference.

Regions, it appears, will not yet be one of them.

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