It took some time for Logan Allin to adjust to Los Angeles when he moved there from New York six months ago. The avid cyclist is still getting to know the area and, as he puts it, "the whole traffic thing." But while his shift to the West Coast took some getting used to, Allin's August transition into the role of SVP and manager of business and operations strategy for L.A.-based City National Bank's ($17.7 billion in total assets) wealth management division has gone smoothly. In an exclusive interview with BS&T, the consulting veteran discusses how he plans to leverage technology to help support the bank's significant growth in the space.
BS&T: As someone tasked with coordinating product, technology and operations strategy across City National Bank's wealth management division, what exactly are your IT-specific responsibilities?
Allin: Wealth management [has] been a big area of focus for us. We've made a significant investment in technology to really serve as a platform for that growth. I've been tasked with looking at what we have today relative to that new strategy and that new growth channel. We'll be looking at technology components in the front and middle offices to fill in and support that growth -- things along the lines of [financial adviser] workstations, financial planning tools, open architecture platforms and performance measurement systems.
BS&T: Since joining the company in August, what have you been focused on?
Allin: A current-state analysis and an RFP with future-state vendors. We're just at the tail end of that process. We're wrapping up the RFP process and are selecting go-forward technology. We haven't made any formal decisions on vendors.
BS&T: What are some of the key business issues that are driving those technology decisions?
Allin: You have to have the right technology in place to adequately grow. We've been experiencing a phenomenal flight to quality. As a result, you need to have the corresponding technology to really scale to that.
If "growth and scale" is the first message, I'd say that the second message is that a big portion of the technology [work] will be dedicated to our move from a proprietary product architecture to an open architecture -- meaning that we're bringing in third-party product off the shelf, and that requires a great deal of process and technology change.
BS&T: What is your wealth management background, and what expertise do you bring to the table?
Allin: I've spent my entire career in the wealth management space, but ... in consulting. I was at Capgemini, then EMC Consulting and most recently with PricewaterhouseCooper's consulting [practice]. For each of those firms, I played a leadership role in the wealth management slice of the financial services consulting practice. In particular, strategy, product and IT are really the three verticals that I focused on and am bringing to bear here.
BS&T: How has technology's role in the wealth management space changed or evolved over time?
Allin: Technology has continued to play a greater role in ... freeing up financial advisers to focus more on the client. The technology has become much more client-centric and has enabled efficiencies so that people can spend their time working to be trusted advisers for end clients, as opposed to being bogged down in potential administrative activities. Wealth management technology has really just enabled us to do a better job with our clients from an efficiency perspective, and in bringing better products and better content to our clients.
A primary example of that is the unified managed account (UMA) space, and the managed account space as a whole, which has evolved from mutual funds to SMAs [separately managed accounts] and now UMAs. That kind of more efficient product structure, which is much more client-centric and attuned to their portfolio goals, has been enabled by technology.