How an Asian investment institution is disrupting the asset and wealth management space

In the asset and wealth management landscape that was long dominated by large global private banks, challengers have grown to prominence in the post-COVID world. They are offering more personalised, cost-effective, and transparent investment solutions tailored to each client's needs.

This is the space where Lighthouse Canton has created a niche for itself, taking solid strides forward to become a market leader. Lighthouse Canton is a global investment institution offering wealth and asset management services and was established over a decade ago.

Shilpi Chowdhary, the CEO of Lighthouse Canton, speaks with purpose and passion as he shares his views on playing to win.

Chowdhary is trying to change the narrative of the industry by instilling a positive and forward-thinking culture at Lighthouse Canton. This is by emphasising, understanding, and excelling in the space in which the firm operates, acknowledging competitors' strengths yet focusing on and prioritising Lighthouse Canton's own powers and growth opportunities.

This is Part I of our discussion with Shilpi Chowdhary.

The vision and mission of Lighthouse Canton

Chowdhary: “When Lighthouse Canton was established over a decade ago the goal was clear: to become the leading independent asset and wealth management firm in Asia, refusing to settle for second or third place. This vision extends across key Asian markets, including Singapore, India, Middle East, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, and beyond, aiming to establish a strong presence and partnerships throughout the region. The focus is on offering a compelling alternative to traditional banking, presenting new choices to clients.

Achieving this vision rests on three core pillars.

Firstly, there is a strong emphasis on investment acumen, ensuring access to top talent, and fostering the best ideas and thought leadership.

Secondly, there is a commitment to excellence in client service and operational standards.

Lastly, there is a dedication to digital innovation, adapting to the evolving needs of high-net-worth individuals with user-friendly interfaces and cutting-edge technology.

This comprehensive approach enhances client engagement and sets Lighthouse Canton apart in the industry.”

Leadership role in establishing synergies between nations in Asia

The Asia-Pacific region is emerging as a global leader in wealth management and private banking, driven by the growing wealth and increasing HNWI population. Pro-investment regulatory environments in markets like Singapore, Hong Kong, Dubai, and India attract significant global capital. In 2024, the wealth management market in Asia is projected to reach US$15,910.00bn in assets under management, with an expected annual growth rate of 0.90% from 2024 to 2028, reaching US$16,490.00bn by 2028, according to Statista.

Exploring synergies within the Asia-Pacific region offers unparalleled advantages. Lighthouse Canton, with its presence in Singapore, India, and Dubai and partnerships across the region, leverages local expertise and regional insights to navigate market complexities and deliver tailored solutions to clients.

Chowdhary: Markets can behave very differently across regions. For instance, today, India appears the most promising, while a few years ago, China held that position. In the future, another market could take the lead. Being present in various jurisdictions allows us to understand local economic activity and what's happening on the ground. This knowledge and experience can be transferred to our other businesses and geographies, which is a significant advantage.

Collaboration is the second key benefit. We invest in both public and private markets, where collaboration is crucial due to high information asymmetry. Often, you don't know much about private companies or even which companies exist. Having teams on the ground enables us to gather ideas and share them with a broader group, attracting quality capital and investment opportunities. This is one of the immediate benefits of having diverse locations and teams.

Another logical benefit is the exchange of ideas and talent. Exposing your talent to different markets enhances their skills, making your organization more diverse and well-rounded.

Innovation and Technology in Wealth Management and democratising wealth

In February 2024, a research coalition consisting of ThoughtLab, Deloitte, and FNZ, supported by Amazon Web Services(AWS) and Genesys, analyzed views from 250 wealth management firms and 2,000 investors. Their findings indicate that by 2028, digital innovation and artificial intelligence (AI) will be crucial for success in the investment industry. The study underscores the urgent need for digital and process transformation as Generation X takes center stage, Generations Y and Z gain influence, and wealth grows in emerging markets, including Asia.

Future customer engagements will vary based on customer profile and segmentation. Technology in wealth management offers the potential to harness data-driven marketing to enhance customer acquisition and efficiency. By utilizing AI-powered algorithms and advanced data analytics, wealth managers can build a robust, customer-centric recommendation engine. This allows for better understanding and segmentation of customers, leading to more effective segment-specific digital campaigns. This is a major focus area for Lighthouse Canton.

Also Read: From stability to agility, what Asia’s wealthy investors seek

Chowdhary: The traditional investor journey, guided by private banks and relationship managers, has remained largely unchanged for decades. Despite evolving products and markets, the fundamental experience for investors has stayed the same. However, we believe it's time for a change.

We have pinpointed the core functions of a private bank: custodianship, execution, advisory services, product selection, and portfolio monitoring. While custodianship and execution require a banking institution, the rest can be provided externally. Our mission is to democratize these services, offering them independently of any bank.

To achieve this, we have partnered with a global custodian and developed a technology platform, creating a marketplace where investors can access a diverse range of products. We provide high-quality advice and a human interface for those who prefer it. Our goal is to offer a dedicated advisor accessible at the touch of a button, giving investors control over their portfolios from anywhere in the world.

This approach enhances the user experience, providing more comfort, control, and safety. As we continue to grow, we are exploring innovative solutions, such as conversational portfolios powered by generative AI. This technology allows investors to have meaningful, real-time discussions with their portfolios, asking questions and receiving answers without relying on a relationship manager.

Our focus is on empowering investors to make better investment decisions. We anticipate challenges and welcome feedback as we embark on this long-term journey of innovation and improvement. This commitment to redefining the investor experience positions us at the forefront of the wealth management revolution.

Role of Tech and AI in financial inclusion and growth

Chowdhary: We firmly believe in the transformative power of AI in our operations, but we also recognise the indispensable role of human intelligence. Our strategy is to seamlessly integrate the strengths of both.

Inspired by Sal Khan of Khan Academy, who personalises educational content for each student, we aim to hyper-customise our services to individual clients. Khan highlights the importance of tailored content, not as cheating, but as essential customization. Similarly, we strive to provide personalised financial services at an individual level, ensuring each client receives the precise customization they need. This approach supports our commitment to democratising financial services and fostering financial growth and inclusion.

Addressing the unique needs of individuals is crucial, as these can vary. Building tools to cater to these nuances is essential. Without these tools, meeting such specific needs remains a challenge.

For data privacy and ethical reasons, we have chosen to develop our AI solution in-house. We cannot risk entrusting our sensitive data to third parties. This requires time to train the model.

This meticulous approach ensures we maintain the highest standards of data privacy and ethical responsibility while providing unparalleled, personalized financial services. By leveraging AI and human expertise.

This is the way we are redefining the wealth management experience, making it more responsive, secure, and tailored to each client's unique needs.

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