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Six questions with Dragon Wealth’s Bert-Jan Van Essen

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For the next post in our series we caught up with the Founder & CEO of Dragon Wealth, Bert-Jan Van Essen, to talk about the excitement around wealth management fintech solutions, and why humans still have a part to play in the process… 

Can you tell us a little about Dragon Wealth?

Founded in 2013, Dragon Wealth is one of the fastest growing Fintech companies of ASEAN. It’s an honor to share that we have been recognized as one of the leading Fintech companies by Euromoney and was awarded with Asia #1 Financial Innovation Award in 2014, and in June 2016 we got mentioned as one of the top 10 Fintech Companies in Singapore and Vietnam.

We are the first company to provide online tools designed specially for financial advisors and wealth managers in a bid to increase their client’s engagement and sales.

What led you to found the company?

I was in Credit Suisse, assuming the position of CIO before I left in 2012. It has become apparent to me that a sizeable number of industries, retail, F&B, banking and many more, have progressed to create online branding while the insurance line was still relying on the traditional way of doing business.

Fully aware of the upside of having online presence and the problems that come of engaging with clients, I founded Dragon Wealth Asia with the vision of bringing a transformation to the advisory industry here in Singapore.

What are the challenges facing the traditional financial advisory industry?

We see automation technology virtually in every aspect of our lives. And now, it is also invading the advisory industry. But even if retail investors are getting used to this type of technology, financial advisors struggle to change the way they work.

Systems like robo-advisors can manage an unlimited number of clients for a tenth of the cost of what a financial advisor charges. If financial managers do not embrace the change they might run out of business in the next 3-5 years.

Why do you still see the human element of advisory services as important?

Current technology is not able to understand an individual as a human can do. Take for example the hype around Bots, have you ever tested one?

The tech world is not ready to take over the human element yet. Investors all have unique goals and states of financial health which require time and active communication to understand. A passive digitalized management platform is definitely unable to provide customized and comprehensive wealth solution which investors are looking for.

We believe they can be a complement, but not a replacement to human hand-holding.

Beyond innovation in financial advisory services, what other fintech trends interest you?

Bank as a Service (BaaS) is a trend that will probably open the financial market to many players, especially because it cut a lot of the high starting cost required to join the fintech space.

Also I am really curious to see how the crowdinvesting space will evolve in the next years. I believe it is currently an immature space but it has high potential.

Why are you excited to speak at Symbol: The Asian Fintech Summit?

I am excited to be invited as a guest speaker for the Asian Fintech Submit. It’s a distinct honor to share my insights and story here with established institutions, investors and all the experts in the sector.

I believe that I will meet many like-minded professionals and engage in meaningful discussions on how the fintech ecosystem will shape and impact the financial skyline in the years to come.

Bert-Jan is one of  over 100 speakers who will take the stage at Symbol: The Asian Fintech Summit. To find out more and to register for your pass, check out our event website here.

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