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Since Wipro’s March 4, 2021, announcement to acquire Capco, the London-based global management and technology consultancy that provides digital, consulting, and technology services to financial institutions, for US$1.45 billion, reaction has been mixed as to whether it will deliver the synergies and earnings growth Wipro expects. However, Wipro’s consulting-led offerings matched with Capco’s digital capabilities appear to be poised to deliver a powerful, end-to-end service for clients.
Here’s our take.
Wipro, a leading, India-based global IT, consulting, and business process services company, has acquired numerous companies in the last few years, such as Appirio for cloud services, Opus CMC for the mortgage industry, Designit, Syfte, and Cooper for design thinking and strategy, and International TechneGroup (ITI) for its industrial and engineering services. The Capco deal, which is expected to close at the end of June, stands apart from the other acquisitions not only because it’s Wipro’s largest to date but because it will greatly improve Wipro’s digital offerings in the BFS space, Wipro’s largest business unit. This will narrow the gap between Cognizant, Infosys, and TCS, Wipro’s three biggest competitors in the BFS arena.
Also, in 2020, digital contributed to nearly 40 percent of Wipro’s total revenue, making Capco’s digital capabilities integral in positioning Wipro as one of the market leaders.
The Wipro/Capco acquisition will deliver improved benefits to clients, including:
Large-scale acquisitions are not new to Wipro or the BFS industry; however, success from such high-value acquisitions are not always guaranteed. It is, therefore, no surprise that this announcement was received with mixed reactions and speculation from the market as to whether it will deliver the synergies and earnings growth that Wipro has promised.
Overall, we remain optimistic about the deal and believe this acquisition will equip Wipro to better solve BFS clients’ challenges through Capco’s future-ready digital capabilities. Most importantly, the acquisition is complementary in nature and will help Wipro gain scale, speed, and stature.
Wipro’s consulting-led services, together with Capco’s digital capabilities, will provide more meaningful end-to-end long-term support to clients. It would not be surprising to see similar deals coming up across various segments of BFS with the aim of providing bundled offerings, as products lose their charm when offered on a standalone basis. Complementing service offerings with consulting-led delivery capabilities is being seen across various BFS industries, including mortgage and FCC. These capabilities are being acquired not just through acquisitions but also through partnerships, such as the recent one between Genpact and Deloitte in the financial risk and compliance domain.
Though this trend witnessed a slow start, especially for the Indian IT firms, it looks promising and rewarding in the long run and is only expected to gain momentum. Through end-to-end consulting and digital service offerings, enterprises get access to a compelling combination of digital talent at scale with a consulting-led delivery approach, which helps achieve greater business value and gains.
Generally, the value addition to enterprises entirely depends on the speed at which service providers can utilize the enhanced breadth and depth of their offerings post-acquisition. Having said this, the key to achieving significant value addition for both Wipro and Capco’s clients would eventually lie on smooth integration and flawless execution.
For the returns to outweigh the risks, a superior execution policy needs to be in place. The key to inspiring its BFS clients will be to align consulting, design, build and operate capabilities around solving some of the industry’s biggest challenges. For BFS clients, this is namely modernizing legacy systems, providing innovative product and service offerings, ensuring a delightful customer experience, and effectively managing the ever-evolving regulatory landscape. For Wipro’s enhanced capabilities to be successful, it should help reinvent the client’s journey through a rare combination of consulting-led digital transformation.
We would love to hear your thoughts on this acquisition and or others that are following the same trend, reach out to [email protected].
The ESG platform/product vendor ecosystem is expanding at an exponential rate, with banks increasingly collaborating with the larger network following the pandemic. Large banks such as Citibank have collaborated with Truvalue Labs to accelerate their ESG research initiatives. Similarly, in the UK, Lloyds Banking Group has partnered with Sancroft to obtain insights and advice on the best ESG practices. US-based specialist asset manager Trillium Asset Management has collaborated with Trucost to conduct a carbon analysis of its sustainable opportunities strategy.
In our previous blog on ESG, we highlighted that – while the ESG ecosystem is evolving within the Banking and Financial Services (BFS) industry – firms fail to recognize its potential to generate long-term risk-adjusted returns. In this blog, we explain the evolution of the ESG product and platform vendor landscape. These products are helping BFS firms think and act on ESG proactively and tap into several opportunities that the ecosystem offers.
In response to the demand for robust ESG integration, vendors are offering various products and services, ranging from raw data and reports across multiple ESG areas to extremely sophisticated analytics platforms. The focus areas for these firms include stock screening, portfolio construction and analysis, competitive benchmarking, risk management, green bond framework evaluation, second party opinions, scenario analysis, controversy analysis, ratings, and rankings.
The ESG vendor landscape itself can be broadly divided into three categories: data and data analytics providers, technology providers, and ESG advisory firms.
Data and data analytics providers use unique ways of sourcing, categorizing, and quantifying ESG data before building an analytics layer over it. Based on coverage, these providers can be further categorized as ESG market data providers, ESG exclusives, and ESG specialists.
Consulting and advisory firms assist financial services firms and other enterprises in building data and governance frameworks, integrating ESG, and facilitating their regulatory reporting strategies. In fact, taking note of ESG’s growing importance, firms such as esg.solutions, NEPC, Sancroft, Callan, State Street, Clearbrook, Goby, ASC Advisors, KKS Advisors, Canterbury Consulting, and Mercer have introduced ESG consulting as a separate arm within their consulting practices. We believe that the ability to highlight ESG issues that affect financial performance will be a differentiating factor in this arena.
The exhibit below showcases the vast and expanding ESG vendor landscape today.
Exhibit: Understanding the ESG vendor landscape
With such an expansive and thriving market for ESG services, it may be difficult for leaders to choose the best-fit vendors.
Some characteristics that will help financial institutions distinguish among data and analytics vendors are market coverage, quality and quantity of ESG indicators, investments covered, methodology, sources, support to standard frameworks, and company involvement.
Also, market intermediaries such as stock exchanges, rating agencies, reporting and regulatory bodies, index providers, and ETF providers play an equally important role in developing the right ESG ecosystem. Hence, BFSI firms need to collaborate with the right mix of data, regulatory frameworks, and technologies. It is complicated, but ultimately provides a lucrative opportunity to IT service providers to offer innovative ESG products and solutions and provide custom-built solutions on partner products tailored to banks’ specific needs. This will ease the transition and change management process for banks and financial institutions. A few service providers, consulting leaders, and boutique consulting players have already created frameworks and solutions to help banks with their ESG needs.
We are confident that over the next decade, ESG will not be discussed as a standalone or secondary strategy but will be a mainstream financial services proposition, creating sustainable long-term value, not only for investors and BFSI enterprises but for the entire ecosystem.
We also invite ESG data and analytics providers, IT service providers, and consulting firms to reach out to us to get featured in our upcoming research assessing ESG vendors that serve BFSI enterprises. Please refer our Research Participation Guide to understand the scope, objectives, and participation process of the research.
Banking, Financial Services, and Insurance (BFSI) firms are under increasing pressure to operate more sustainably, mindful of their economic, social, and environmental impact. This implies conforming to Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) regulations, which mandate enterprises to be conscious of: their impact on the environment; their relationship with employees, suppliers, clients, and communities; and robust standards on company leadership, risk management, and stakeholder rights. Further, voluntary guidelines such as the Equator Principles, UN Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), and recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) are forcing banks to incorporate ESG as part of their lending, investment, and financing decisions. We strongly believe that today’s voluntary commitments will soon be replaced by hard regulations, and, hence, organizations that embrace these mandates sooner will be ahead of the game, if that comes to pass.
Three aspects drive ESG integration in BFSI operations today: 1) reputation, marketing, and public relations; 2) growing client demand for ESG-conscious investment practices; and 3) regulatory burden. ESG enhances BFSI firms’ brand perception for all stakeholders, including millennial talent, which is more attracted to brands that take firm actions around ESG mandates. Advances in technology and the use of AI / big data / ML are further helping combat challenges related to ESG measurement.
However, these drivers fail to factor in the significant potential to generate long-term risk-adjusted returns through ESG compliance. Our research suggests that firms that can better navigate environmental and social disruptions, while incorporating good governance practices, will be able to mitigate risks and create long-term value.
The exhibit below highlights the various factors contributing to banks’ increased focus on sustainability or ESG.
Exhibit: Factors driving banks’ increasing emphasis on sustainability
The COVID-19 pandemic served as the first real proof point that ESG investing can future-proof investments and boost returns even in uncertain times, with sustainable funds outperforming their more conventional counterparts. Consequently, ESG investing solidified its position as a dominant feature across the financial services landscape in 2020, with investments in sustainable funds in the US almost twice the previous year’s total.
Leading credit rating agencies such as S&P and Moody’s have indicated that innovative ESG initiatives will help BFSI firms improve financial performance, in turn providing the monetary resources to further enhance their ESG strategies. Further, large fund management firms such as BlackRock Inc., Vanguard Group, and State Street Global Advisors, are making ESG-focused investments. In February 2021, Vanguard appointed Fong Yee Chan as the firm’s first head of ESG strategy for the UK and Europe.
BFSI firms that can swiftly integrate a comprehensive ESG strategy into their investment plans will be able to capture a greater share of ESG asset flows. Such a comprehensive strategy would comprise five aspects:
Asset managers should therefore think fast and come up with dedicated strategies to capitalize on the opportunities and gain competitive advantage in the long run.
Traditionally, ESG was incorporated through exclusionary screening, in which investments that did not align with an enterprise’s beliefs and values were dropped. Later, practices such as thematic investing (supporting a particular ESG area), impact investing (focusing on creating a positive change rather than only financial returns), and best-in-class selection (selecting investments with positive ESG performance relative to industry peers) emerged. Gradually, we are moving toward a comprehensive ESG integration model, wherein investors are systematically and deliberately including ESG-related factors into their complete financial analyses.
However, the lack of a standard taxonomy to capture ESG performance, low quality ESG reporting by companies, and the deficiency of robust ESG data pose major challenges to this integration. Technology vendors in the BFSI space can help enterprises understand ESG processes, ensure compliance, and generate optimal value. These partnerships are increasingly important at a time when corporate ESG disclosures are dramatically improving – 80% of the world’s largest corporations use Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) standards today. Further, the number of signatories to the PRI has increased from 63 investment companies in 2006 to more than 1,700 signatories with US$81.7 trillion in Assets Under Management (AUM) today. In recent times, the International Integrated Reporting Initiative (IIRC) and Sustainability Accounting Standard Board (SASB) frameworks have also been gaining enterprise attention.
Google recently announced that it is teaming with eight US banks to offer checking accounts powered by its Google Pay product and built on top of the banks’ existing infrastructures. Google is not the only BigTech firm that is pushing its play in the Banking, Financial Services, and Insurance (BFSI) industry. Facebook recently launched a new unit called Facebook Financial that consolidates all its payment products under David Marcus, the former President of PayPal. In a call with investors in July 2020, Tesla announced that it is planning to launch a major insurance company.
The transformation of the BFSI industry is powered by the ability to create innovative products and experiences using digital capability platforms and data. The BigTech firms see this as a massive opportunity to use their digital platforms and data processing infrastructures to gain a significant share of this transformational opportunity in the BFSI industry.
Additionally, the emergence of a globally connected ecosystem and ambient technology have led end customers to demand seamless experiences to manage their lifestyles and finances. Realizing yet another opportunity, BigTechs such as Amazon, Ant Financial, Apple, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft entered the BFSI industry to offer complementary financial services to support the BFSI firms’ core businesses. They gradually started providing technical capabilities to enable BFSI firms to enhance their operations, products, and experiences, eventually offering competing products and services. In fact, today, BigTech firms are at the epicenter of accelerating a shift in both demand and supply ecosystems, blurring traditional industry boundaries.
In our recently released report, BigTechs in BFSI Industry: The Theory of Co-existence for Market Expansion, we analyzed BigTech firms’ investments in the BFSI industry to dissect their strategic bets and provide recommendations for BFSI firms.
Traditional BFSI players are understandably concerned about BigTechs’ increasing sphere of influence, but their complex relationship with BigTechs makes it difficult for them to devise a focused strategy – to compete or collaborate – with their new peers. While some BFSI firms are expecting regulatory scrutiny and industry watchdogs to keep BigTechs away from their turf, others are developing technologies in-house and in collaboration with enterprise technology firms such as SAP, Salesforce, and Oracle to shore up their capabilities. For example, the top five banks in the US recently increased their technology budgets by more than 10 percent, with a large proportion focused on building proprietary technologies and platforms, as well as R&D, to better compete with BigTechs and FinTechs. In 2019, Bank of America alone filed 418 technology patents.
We believe BFSI firms should find a fine balance of working with BigTechs as fellow ecosystem players to leverage synergies and create a win-win for all stakeholders. Here’s why.
A look at BigTechs’ scale of technology investments and R&D reveals that they heavily outperform BFSI firms in their technology capabilities. In 2019, AWS obtained 2,400 US patents and IBM obtained 9,262. These numbers indicate that their technology and research prowess position them as strong allies of BFSI firms. BigTechs have further strengthened their foothold in the industry through open banking and asset and data monetization models. FinTechs are already disrupting BFSI incumbents, with BigTechs powering many of them with technology and funding.
Thus, partnerships with BigTechs and other players in the ecosystem can help BFSI firms strengthen their role as orchestrators of customer lifestyle experiences. Armed with large technology investments and R&D budgets and a wide range of technology and IT infrastructure offerings, BigTechs have a lot to offer to traditional players. Cloud computing services such as Amazon AWS, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure can help – and are helping – BFSI firms improve their operational efficiencies and reduce costs. For instance, financial institutions in China are leveraging Ant Financial’s ZOLOZ platform for biometric authentication of customers.
Add to this BigTechs’ data and analytics capabilities, and the value they bring to the table increases manifold. BigTechs are not only helping incumbents manage and analyze their own data, but also offering aggregated data from various sources to support BFSI firms and deliver value to their customers.
And that’s not all. BigTechs enjoy a loyal customer base, and BFSI firms can tap into this vast pool. In fact, customers want to see their favorite banks and BigTechs come together to make their lives easier –the launches of Apple Card and Amazon Visa Credit Card are testimony to this fact.
Partnerships can also help banks reach out to the underbanked and underinsured populations. A case in point is Goldman Sachs offering credit to Amazon sellers. Facebook, with its widespread reach, can also act as a liaison between customers in remote areas and financial institutions that do not have brick-and-mortar branches in such areas. Addressing the issue of financial inclusion will not only help BFSI firms and BigTechs increase their market size, but also benefit the lives of those who still do not have access to credit and insurance.
When striking a bargain with BigTechs, BFSI firms must remember that they are equally powerful in the partnership. Traditional BFSI firms command customers’ trust and are better equipped to manage risk and compliance requirements. In contrast, BigTechs are struggling to make a name for themselves in the financial space and are eager to partner with BFSI firms to leverage the trust they enjoy, their access to vast capital reserves, and to bypass some of the regulatory compliance issues.
This situation makes the alliance between BFSI firms and BigTechs an accord between equals, a relationship that is mutually beneficial and sustainable. BFSI firms should confidently partner, co-innovate, and co-exist with BigTechs not only to carve a bigger share for themselves but also to share the benefits with their customers.