WeLab Bank is Asia’s first purely-digital bank. Based in Hong Kong, it is also the first virtual bank to offer advisory services to investors. As a new business launched in 2022, WeLab Bank were building everything from the ground up with a core focus on innovation, leading a step-change in investment fund distribution across Asia’s asset management industry.
With digitalisation at the centre of everything they do, WeLab Bank sought to keep away from manual processes and partner with Calastone to ensure they could achieve full straight-through-processing for their fund orders, reporting and reconciliations.
KEY PRIORITIES FOR BUSINESS LAUNCH
Kai Mak, Head of Wealth Management at WeLab Bank said “For mutual funds it’s a decentralised process that involves many parties working together on a daily basis. This is a big challenge for us as a new bank to provide a new service to investors.
We are new to the business and have been building everything from the ground up and most importantly within a very tight timeline. We wanted to use Calastone as a connector to all the different parties within the funds industry – this was key to us,” Kai added.
As a digital business, WeLab wanted to ensure total efficiency, using the power of connectivity to run all of their operations in the most cost-effective and automated way, delivering the end investor the smoothest and fastest service possible. Automating their order routing and reporting processes was key in helping them to deliver on that mission.
SELECTING CALASTONE: ORDER ROUTING AND REPORTING
WeLab Bank decided to partner with Calastone, adopting both Calastone Order Routing and Calastone Reporting. Through Calastone Order Routing, they can automate the trade flow between all of the different parties in which they work with, providing electronic message translation and distribution, with a real-time view of all of their fund trades. Through Calastone Reporting, they can simplify how they process statements of holdings and transactions, converting all files seamlessly into a single format.
This format can then be used by them to quickly and efficiently reconcile their holdings and pass through to the underlying investors.
ONBOARDING AND KEY BENEFITS
Commenting on the onboarding of both solutions, Kai said: “The onboarding process was very smooth and quick. Everyone was super friendly and helpful for testing the systems. We also felt Calastone was highly professional and very familiar with industry practice, which helped us a lot given we are new to the market. There are many daily practices and operations that we have not been familiar with, and with Calastone as the connector they could smooth out all of those processes”
Through a single connection to the network, WeLab Bank have immediately benefitted from full STP, with full market coverage, enabling operational efficiency while reducing the risks that may have been involved with manual processing. The market connectivity has also made them fully scalable, ensuring that as the business grows, the benefits of automation can grow exponentially.
Kai added, “We’ve achieved our goal in routing orders on an accurate and timely basis. The whole process is quite invisible to us because it’s so smooth and reliable. Everything is automatic – all of the orders route through into our internal systems and beyond daily without issue”
With full real-time visibility over their trades and reporting, Kai said, “Our clients have been very happy – all of the orders are completely transparent to them. Providing the best level of service is absolutely key to us and this is a vital part of enabling us to achieve that.
Virtually 100% of our orders are now automated.”
THE POWER OF AUTOMATION
As a leading virtual bank, WeLab acknowledge the vital importance of digitalisation and automation as investor expectations for a seamless and accessible service intensify.
Kai concluded by saying “As the business scales and we expand our footprint, automation will play the vital role in enabling us to achieve the scalability and infrastructure capabilities we need, so we look forward to seeing how our relationship with Calastone develops in the following months and years.”