by Christine Schmid
This article first appeared in The Enterprise World on August 5, 2021.
Brief us about the company.
Established in 1998, additiv partners with leading financial institutions across the world to help them capitalize on the possibilities of digital wealth and investment management.
additiv’s DFS® omnichannel orchestration platform is a system of intelligence for wealth management. It supports wealth managers looking for best-in-class Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) to deliver better engagement at greater scale. It enables financial institutions to access new distribution channels through a Banking-as-a-Service (BaaS) model. And it allows banking and non-banking providers to embed wealth services into their client propositions.
Headquartered in Switzerland, with regional offices in Singapore, UAE, Germany and Kenya, additiv is supported by a global ecosystem of partners.
What were the initial challenges you faced?
Founding and growing a technology company in Switzerland/Europe is always going to be a challenge. The cluster of technology specialists and experts is significantly smaller than Silicon Valley or in Asia. We would have loved the exchange, trial and error culture that a wider network would have provided.
In addition, we had some idea failures within our cultural environment initially and failure is not the path to learn and adjust easily within the Swiss context. But it is a must to grow and proceed in particular in the technology world. However, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and as a result of these challenges we have emerged stronger and, since 2018, we have been driving exponential growth being rightly positioned.
Which was that point that triggered the growth of the company?
Our story is a surprising one and reviewing our history may help to highlight the triggers.
additiv started in 1998 in media and publishing, sport marketing and marketing and lead management automation and analytics. The latter particularly grew fast; data analytics skills combined with high end events in the finance sector led the company to its early stages in Fintech.
Our experience from being established in 1998 has been invaluable to our success but we really only started operating as a fintech from around 2011. It was then that additiv became the first company together with a bank client to launch a wealth robo, to launch the first consumer lending online offering, budget and planning for private clients.
From 2016 we entered our ‘growth phase’, where additiv’s strategic beliefs were established. It was the age of cloud and data analytics together with the de-and reconstruction of the value chain with zero marginal cost. Our experience in analytics and successful launch of our wealth robo solution allowed us to build upon our belief in the need for Everything-as-a-Service. This supported Digital Finance-as-a-Service as the ultimate goal driven by SaaS, managed services and a strong ecosystem of partners.
From 2020, additiv has been recognised as a leading wealthtech; providing one of the most advanced platforms. We enable regulated parties to offer their services as Banking-as-a-Service (supply side) and financial and non-financial companies to embed finance into their digital client journeys (demand side). Our clients are global, with strong growth in Asia, Europe and the Middle East, and our ecosystem of leading industry partners further supports our position.
How have the company graphs changed since the foundation? Can you share a few statistics?
We now have almost 180 employees from 40 nationalities including business teams in Switzerland, Singapore, Indonesia, Dubai, Kenya, Germany and development teams in Singapore, Portugal, the Ukraine and Romania.
What is the reason behind your company’s long-standing success?
It comes down to so many reasons including the curiosity to ask why and try which has led to innovation success. It’s also a speed to adjust and the ability to learn from challenges (and occasionally some failed ideas!) and having clear strategic beliefs is crucial.
Finally, (and very importantly) our success is down to working very, very hard while also having fun doing so! A great place to be.
What are the products/services the company focuses on?
We have a range of products that we offer, these include three established solutions; Hybrid Wealth Manager, Wealth Robo Advisor and, more recently our Wealth Solution Builder.
Our Hybrid Wealth Manager is a set of digital applications for managing investments and client relationships – Workbench, Mobile Advisor and an advanced, Client Cockpit with all the interaction possibilities with advisors. It allows financial institutions to offer the best solution for their needs, only automating the menial elements previously undertaken by a relationship manager.
Our (assisted) Wealth Robo Advisor is a set of digital applications that offer self-service, remote chat with an advisor or via call-centre, screen sharing and phone-in from anywhere, at anytime (24/7). It allows financial institutions to offer the same superior quality service as traditional advice with the efficiency of a completely automated approach.
Our Wealth Solution Builder is an established IT foundation platform and extensive range of API tools and functionality for FIs to build their own, end-to-end, digital wealth offerings and client journeys. With the support of additiv technical staff, IT developers can create and control every element of their system including configuration, avoiding the lengthy and costly process of building the foundational elements of a system.
Is there any new addition to the list of products/services? Anything exciting you would like to share?
Since 2016, we’ve been continually developing our portfolio to logically progress the end-user journey to support our customers offer Everything-as-a-Service. And we are extending this now through our DFS Platform; connecting the brands wishing to embed financial services into their offering with regulated financial institutions.
Often referred to as ‘Embedded Finance’ this approach allows firms to grow their addressable market. These firms provide consumers with relevant financial services (from a regulated financial institution through a ‘Banking as a Service (BaaS) approach), at the time they need them, over the right channel, and tailored to their context. It’s a USD 3.6trn opportunity and we are now bridging a gap in the market for Embedded Finance and BaaS in the wealth industry through our new models.
Our Embedded Finance model offers a range of wealth management products that make it easy for financial and non-financial institutions to embed investment services into their customer proposition. We offer up as end-to-end services that a brand can easily include, either tightly integrated into an existing journey, or as standalone services. additiv provides the orchestration platform and works with regulated finance partners to be able to fulfil the complete customer journey.
Our Banking-as-a-Service (BaaS) model utilises our DFS orchestration platform that links regulated financial institution services with the brands that wish to embed them into their offering. In practice, this means providing APIs for interaction and the intelligence to integrate services in context-relevant user journeys. Our platform is specialized for Wealth Management-as-a-Service, but also supports its related lending and insurance use cases.
Embedded wealth: an end-to-end approach
How are your services different from those in the market?
We believe that we are unique in offering BaaS and Embedded Finance to support Wealth Management-as-a-Service in the market. Conversations in the market and our research indicates that no other vendor is supporting this market need.
In addition, our products sit upon a uniquely intelligent SaaS cloud-native platform; DFS. DFS® is an omni-channel platform built to underpin digital age banking architecture. It’s an orchestration layer that sits between client interaction channels and the core banking system and is designed to allow its users to be able to access their wealth management platform at any time, from anywhere.
Our solutions have been designed with agility and efficiency in mind, enabling our customers to realise the value of digitalization quickly. On average we are able to ensure that we can roll out a new IT platform to our customers within 6 months (from scratch). Given how fundamental a digital wealth management platform is to realising the benefits of digitalization, this speed of delivery is key. However, once the platform is available, the ability to continually launch and enhance wealth management solutions is essential; at additiv our clients on average are able to launch new solutions within 3 months (subject to the given environment). Our clients realise benefits including on average an NPS registered 26 point improvement in disparity between promoters and distractors, a 25% new customer acquisition rate and 75% of total customer AUM in e-asset management.
How do you decide to take the company a step further in terms of your products/services?
Like other vendors, sometimes our decisions are based on a market need in general and sometimes they are client led initially. However, we don’t embark on totally bespoke projects, we review a customers individual need and then undertake extensive research and development to ensure that there is a wider customer and end user need and understand the market opportunity as a whole. We then use the opportunity to design the product side by side with a client, ensuring that the product developed is sufficiently agile to support future client and market needs.
We have a variety of tools to test user-journey’s and products overall, including Postman collections that consume our DFS platform’s APIs as examples of different user journeys.
How do you look after your employees? What makes your team unique?
Embracing diversity is a focus across all our offices, in fact our GM of our APAC office spoke at an INSEAD Alumni event on ‘addressing the gender gap’ at the end of last year. Our dedication to ethical behaviour was in fact just last week recognized by EcoVadis, where we received a sort after bronze medal for overachieving in ethics relative to our sector.
Overall, we have simple cultural values that focus on collaboration, combined with explorative mind-sets and thoughtful disagreement – i.e. a open discussion but clear decision culture.
We like to focus on a non-hierarchical approach ensuring all our team take end to end ownership which empowers all to strive for the best and creates an environment where people can grow and take responsibility. We like to think working with additiv offers a fantastic journey if you are not looking for a static job description which lasts for years.
Is there any special experience with your clients you would like to highlight?
The majority of our customers return year on year often adding new functionality, services or projects which makes us proud – additiv is a business partner for the long run.
We have lots of examples of great experiences with our clients. For example, in a blog by our customers PostFinance, their Chief Investment officer Daniel Mewes, highlighted that our “intimate knowledge of the wealth management industry made it easy to align, prioritize, collaborate, and execute based on our shared understanding of customer priorities.”
Whose business story do you find the most inspiring?
In general, I find new innovations that bring service simplicity to a new level really inspiring. As well as those that support our society broadly by allowing the next generation to prosper and live.
The story behind Stripe is a good example of service simplicity. Developed for the internet in 2010, Stripe software is accessible to businesses of every size, ranging from new start-ups to public companies; facilitating payments while allowing businesses to be managed online. It allows business owners to manage their revenue, prevent fraud, and expand internationally, offering an invaluable service to an economy that is increasing its reliance on eCommerce purchasing. By recognizing a need for a safe and reliable internet payment platform, its founders have created an industry leader. Today, Stripe is valued at $95 billion, a valuation that is predicted to grow with the reliance COVID19 has created on ecommerce shopping platforms.
Another business story that is dear to my heart is The Ocean Cleanup. They are cleaning up our ocean and educating a global audience on what needs to be done to prevent plastic pollution in the ocean. Its founder, Boyan Stat, conceptualized the idea in 2011, after discovering more plastic than fish while diving in Greece when he was just 16. This discovery led him to investigate why ocean cleanup projects were rare, and what could be done to change that by making them more effective. His research uncovered a new way of ridding the ocean of plastic through a passive system using circulating ocean currents to transport and trap ocean contaminants.
In 2012, Boyan shared the findings of his research at a TEDx talk in his hometown Delft, in the Netherlands. His TEDx went viral and coincided with The Ocean Cleanup launch in 2013, attracting attention and support across the globe. Boyan has since received over $40 million in funding, and his team are on their way to reaching their goal of removing 92% of plastic contamination from the ocean.
Which is the most inspiring quote you have read?
It’s difficult to not be too cliché when it comes to quotes. There are so many from inspirational business professionals that are directly linked to our industry but fundamentally they often lose humility and have an underlying bias. With this in mind, I’d like to reference a humble quote:
“Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.” – Albert Einstein.
I like to think that this quote can be applied in and outside of the working world. Adding value to our customers clients is fundamental, but so is adding value to those around us and to the world itself. Whether it be encouraging an inclusive culture with colleagues, championing diversity in the industry or teaching my children the importance of carbon neutrality for example, every one of use can add value in our own way.
Constant vigilance- a need or a strategy? Please share your views.
Technology innovation change in recent decades has been massive and will continue. Thus constant vigilance is not a need but a given – ensure that you are ahead of the rest (and leader, not a follower), take clear strategic decision and be globally informed is a must to stay ahead bringing financial services to the public.
Strategy is of course important though. Preparation is key, for example, we will need a new monetary system in coming years, new ways to store wealth (DLT, Blockchain etc.) and financial institutions must have the right agile systems to be ready.
It’s a rat-race out there. How do you cope with that?
I’ve been in this industry for many years so I’m used to it! But seriously, I think it’s important that you don’t try and join the race! This isn’t a battle to be won against competitors, I don’t tend to worry about them, I focus on what our customers and their clients need and let other industry players fight amongst themselves. It’s a much better use of energy and time.
The industry is moving at a very fast pace though, and it’s important to ensure that you can keep up! It’s very easy to get distracted by tactical activities and loose sight of what’s needed to lead the market, rather than follow. To avoid this, I like to take a breath of fresh air everyday which allows me to ensure I remain strategic in my thinking. Living in Switzerland with great outdoor sport possibilities and being near the mountains helps; having space to breath and think is so very important.
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