The digital age continues to rage on and some believe that the current market situation is a catalyst for financial institutions to innovate. We interviewed Koen and Theo to hear about what recent trends they see in the Benelux market. What solutions does Blanco offer for these developments?
What trends have you observed in the Benelux market?
Koen: “At the moment, open banking is very much on the agenda at banks in the Benelux. Open banking is a European initiative, of which PSD2 is a part. Under the PSD2 legislation, customers can give a third party (another financial institution) access to their payment account with their bank. Banks were initially rather wary, because they were afraid that they would lose their customers to these third parties. Although this legislation has caused quite a stir, it has also opened up the financial sector considerably.
At Blanco, we actually do something similar to what PSD2 has made possible for payment transactions: Blanco is able to process investment data from 42 different banks in the Benelux and we are expanding every day. However, processing investment information is much more complex than payment transactions. European regulations granting access to the investment account would therefore be welcome.”
Theo: “Another trend we see is that cloud computing is becoming more accepted and widely used. This trend started some time ago, of course, but we now see that countries like Luxembourg also allow financial institutions to store their data outside their national borders. Luxembourg’s financial institutions, just like financial institutions in other European countries, have to comply with (cloud) outsourcing rules. This may still prevent some parties from doing so, but it does mean that Blanco (with its cloud-based technology) can become a bigger player in the Luxembourg market.”
What difficulties are there in the Benelux market?
Koen: “It is clear that manual collection and processing of data is still common practice in the market. We surveyed 50 family offices and the results clearly showed that 51% have a lot of trouble aggregating data and 31% indicate this as a complex job with a lot of manual interventions.”
Theo: “The question is to what level the manual collection and processing of data remains practical and what its limits are in the digital age. Insight into the total portfolio is often still possible. But what about gaining insight into the underlying return and making a return comparison? This data is even more difficult to aggregate.”
How does Blanco provide a solution to these challenges?
Koen: “Blanco continues to grow and we see that our products are ready for the European market. The European market is changing and there are different needs between the different countries, but Blanco can adapt easily and respond exceptionally well to these varying regional needs. In Belgium, for example, Blanco can meet the demand for flexible questionnaires in the onboarding street. We are also able to aggregate customer and investment data from different parties, a need that not only exists in the Netherlands, but certainly in Belgium and Luxembourg as well.”
Theo: “We have more than 10 years of experience in streamlining data from different banks. All these banks deliver data in their own format and from their own unique systems. Making that data comparable and being able to process this data completely in other systems is not something that just anyone can do.”
Koen: “What we offer at Blanco is unique in both the Luxembourg and Belgian markets. We offer the entire asset management chain from A to Z. In addition, our solutions are not exclusively suitable for asset managers. Parties such as investment institutions, payment service providers and other parties (like notaries and lawyers) with an ‘anti money laundering’ client investigation obligation can come to us. We have a lot to offer such parties at very competitive prices.”