FNZ's Appway acquisition promises new dawn for client onboarding services

With a shared ideology and parallel cultural roots, two dark horses join forces

FNZ's Appway acquisition promises new dawn for client onboarding services

Appway, a leading international provider of cloud-based client onboarding solutions for the financial services industry, has just positioned itself to serve its customers in a more comprehensive fashion.

Following an announcement in December, Appway has been acquired by FNZ, a multinational company that provides a complete integrated technology, transaction, and custody platform to wealth managers, banks, insurers, and asset managers in 18 countries across North America, Europe, and the Asia-Pacific regions.

“What we've learned from our customers in the wealth management industry all over the world is that there's much more appetite to get more than just a cloud-based software solution,” says Hanspeter Wolf, founder and former CEO of Appway. With the closing of the acquisition, Wolf has joined the senior leadership team of the FNZ Group as its chief technology officer.

“Everyone is looking to go beyond just buying technology,” Wolf says. “They want a full-blown end-to-end solution, which really takes care of the infrastructure and the integration into the existing technology.”

As the pressure rises for wealth firms to satisfy regulators and perform at scale, customers are looking for providers who can assist not just on technology, but also with respect to ongoing regulations and operations. Firms are also faced with growing expectations to deliver a more seamless experience for end customers as they transition across different bands of the wealth continuum.

“You see heavy-hitters who may be servicing mass-market clients under a robo-advisor or retail banking unit, mass-affluent clientele working with private wealth firms, and really high-net-worth clients serviced by boutiques and family offices,” Wolf says. “They’re increasingly moving to integrate their businesses. The idea is to have one umbrella under to provide high-touch service to clients as they accumulate assets and move along their own personal continuum of wealth.”

To become the service provider wealth firms need, Appway needed a partner that not only complements its existing capabilities, but is also a good ideological and cultural fit. That’s what Wolf found in FNZ.

“When I met Adrian [Durham, CEO of FNZ], I found someone who shares literally the same views on the industry,” he says. “We believe the industry needs to move way beyond just buying best-of-breed software and stitching it together by themselves, and much more into something which really provides an end-to-end managed service and deliver outcomes on a very transparent level all the investors are looking for.”

And while Appway and FNZ are rooted in different countries – the former is headquartered in Switzerland, and the latter was founded in New Zealand – Wolf sees parallels. Aside from having small populations, both are geographically nations unto themselves; Switzerland is cut off from much of continental Europe by mountain ranges, while New Zealand is literally an island country consisting of two landmasses in the southwestern Pacific Ocean.

“If you want to start or develop a global business out of such small countries, you really need to immediately think and act beyond the current country borders. You have to not be afraid of doing the heavy lifting, and be comfortable being a dark horse at the beginning,” Wolf says. “That steady growth mindset is something which I think is embedded in the original DNA of both our companies.”

Wolf also believes the organizations of Appway and FNZ will be good partners owing to the style of communication between them. He describes a strong sense of collaboration and mutual support, as well as a high degree of respect and a shared agreement on the value of fast communication.

According to Wolf, the acquisition will not affect the continuity of service Appway customers and partners in Canada have enjoyed. The plan is to invest and elevate the offering from client onboarding as a software service to client onboarding as a true service, including more support on KYC and compliance-related services at scale.

“Appway has served the Canadian market for many years, and we have become embedded in the dynamic Canadian wealth management market. Together with FNZ, we now have a truly unique end to end wealth platform proposition for the Canadian market,” Wolf says.

And because of FNZ’s dedication to the wealth industry and other related sectors, Appway’s business has found the added scalability and financial strength to innovate at a faster pace than ever before. The two companies are now starting their combined story, which Wolf says is centred on creating a powerful global end-to-end platform to accelerate and drive much more personalized wealth management services across the world, which includes significant investment in North America and Canada.

“Canada is an important growth market for FNZ and a key part of our North American strategy,” he says. “FNZ are continuing to invest in Canada to not only support customer demand but also to leverage the excellent technology skills and capabilities to support the wider North American strategy.”