Standard Chartered: Disrupting the structured products and API worlds

Innovation in a world of data overload and growing competition in financial circles is the need of the hour. So is simplifying complex processes and information to enable financial professionals to focus on what truly matters: their clients. Standard Chartered Bank has recognised these dynamics and has been shaking things up.

Standard Chartered Bank is an innovator. No where is that clearer than in structured products, where the bank has played a leading role in transforming the market landscape through a range of pioneering features.

That transformation is visible across many markets. In China, for example, Standard Chartered’s clients enjoy 24/7 service on mobile and internet banking to price and subscribe to equity-linked structured deposits, usually within a span of five minutes. Thanks to that fast pace and ease of execution, over 99% of the bank’s structured products volumes in China are done on mobile.

It’s a similarly strong story in Hong Kong, where Standard Chartered’s role as a disruptor continues to make waves. In the city’s structured products market for retail professional investors, the bank started to offer fully automated pricing, term sheet and risk disclosure documents generation, real-time pre-trade credit checks and an end-to-end straight-through[1]processing platform in early 2023.

By simplifying administrative tasks and reducing wealth managers’ workload, Standard Chartered’s automated platform empowers its experts to offer advice and product ideations to clients more swiftly and consistently. What differentiates the bank as a result is its dedication to equipping relationship managers with the tools they need to focus on clients and wealth planning.

This is a win-win for both clients and the bank. Clients are able to seize market opportunities swiftly and with more confidence, while Standard Chartered is able to ride on this to further grow its reach among Hong Kong’s professional structured product investors.

STAYING ON ITS TOES

The bank is already reaping the benefits of this forward-thinking approach and putting its clients first.

Its proposition for retail structured product clients is certainly unrivalled. Taking an unbiased advice approach, Standard Chartered gives it clients full transparency as it neither uses proprietary sell-side type research nor in-house products. Instead, it adopts an open source approach to both advice and solutions – something that appeals to investors.

This structured note offering for professional investors is just one part of the Standard Chartered banking puzzle. Along with the other pieces – around foreign exchange digital offering, mutual funds and bancassurance – the bank’s clients have fully automated end-to-end products right at their fingertips.

To acknowldege its myriad strengths, The Digital Banker recognised Standard Chartered with the award for the Best Structured Product Platform (Hong Kong) at its 2023 Global Retail Banking Innovation Awards.

This is only the beginning. Given Standard Chartered’s retail structured product capability is the first of its kind in Hong Kong, it provides a template and a solution for a similar expansion in its other markets across different types of structured products.

Additionally, the growth in assets under management within structured notes for professional investors arms the bank with the critical infrastructure needed to automate other future structured products like structured deposits. It also makes Standard Chartered ready to roll out these products in the Greater Bay Area through the Wealth Connect scheme, when the authorities expand the suite of products to include structured notes.

It is clear that Standard Chartered is ready to roll – laying the foundation for more growth and innovation.

BREAKING NEW GROUND

Standard Chartered bagged several other awards, too. The Digital Banker named it the 2023 Best Digital Bank – Brunei, the Best Equity Trading Platform in Malaysia, the Best RPA Initiative in the Middle East, and the Best API Initiative in Singapore.

The Singapore accolade for best application programming interface is particularly note worthy. APIs are critical for financial institutions as they help them develop applications quickly, in response to customer trends and behaviour. Given the growing need for data and connectivity and the rapid advancements in data aggregation technologies, financial institutions and fintech firms in Singapore have long been collaborating on using open APIs more securely. This means there is more data sharing between the two groups of players – without human intervention – with more advancements in API set to transform traditional banking even further.

Standard Chartered is a leader in the wealth API space with an initiative called Olympus, a state[1]of-the-art project that establishes a common API layer to accelerate digitisation of end-to-end wealth management products and services, built in-house and unveiled in December 2022.

Olympus focuses on two main things. First, to enhance client experience by providing market leading digital capabilities, like instant portfolio creation and account opening for a seamless digital onboarding journey.

The second is to significantly boost speed-to[1]market – which is possible as API capabilities built once can be customised and are reusable across functions. For example, an API initially built for fund orders placed by a client can be easily adapted to handle both fixed income and equity orders with very little configuration.

ACCOLADES GALORE

Standard Chartered has outdone itself with Olympus. The main selling point of the Olympus API platform is that it’s a standard, omnichannel integration point which houses reusable APIs, enabling real time integration with different systems and channels.

As an additional bonus, the platform is built on highly scalable infrastructure that can cater to any on-demand digital processing across the entire suite of wealth management transactions offered by Standard Chartered.

Without a doubt, client experience has got a major fillip at a time when financial institutions across the board are pulling out all the stops to sway customers with savvy digital tools. Through wealth APIs, Standard Chartered’s clients can execute end[1]to-end digital funds processing with zero manual touch, check their portfolio performance instantly, and have a real-time leverage eligibility check when placing an order. The API’s other capabilities include instant order fee enquiry and validation, and the ability to create, view, amend and terminate regular investments and savings plans.

The API initiative’s success is impressive. But Standard Chartered’s bankers are not resting on their laurels. They are looking ahead, plotting on how best to capitalise on the opportunities in the space.

The Olympus API layer continues to boost its functional capabilities or the API library, with the eventual aim to have 100% reliance on real-time and on-demand APIs, eschewing point-to-point or batch interfaces unless for regulatory reasons.

Standard Chartered’s awards and ambitions underscore its commitment to innovation and efficiency when serving clients. They also reflect the bank’s commitment to pushing the boundaries in the world of finance and being a first mover wherever possible.

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