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Capgemini, Merrill Lynch See Technology Helping Advisors Meet Growing Demands of Wealthy Investors.

NEW YORK -- New technologies for analyzing and offering information, solutions and services will be key differentiating factors for financial institutions serving the investment needs of wealthy investors, according to Merrill Lynch and Capgemini, joint authors of the 2004 World Wealth Report.

The 2004 World Wealth Report showed a sharp rise in the number of High Net Worth Individuals, defined as investors with at least $1 million in liquid assets. To meet the expectations of this growing investor class, wealth management providers are increasingly turning to the effective use of technology.

"Technology can greatly enhance the financial planning process, allowing advisors and clients to collaborate virtually and conduct thorough reviews of the most sophisticated portfolios to measure performance against goals," said Robert Mulholland, co-head of Merrill Lynch's Global Private Client Americas region. "We believe it is the firms that are able to provide their advisors with best-in-class technology that gain a significant competitive advantage."

"Market knowledge and global economic perspective among HNWIs is extremely high and the demands that they now have on their financial advisors is unprecedented," said Alvi Abuaf, North American head of Capgemini's Financial Services Practice. "The firms that are unable to adapt to the new service and offering climate by utilizing new technologies will ultimately miss the business opportunity that has been created."

Examples of such technology enablers, include sophisticated CRM solutions that combine client profile data with account, portfolio and planning information, state of the art online solutions as well as collaborative tools that allow advisors and clients to share documents, update plans and rebalance accounts. Financial services firms are also using new open product technologies to demonstrate objectivity in assessing and calculating performance and commissions. Additionally, firms are utilizing Virtual Service Networks to drive higher levels of client service by customizing solutions and providing access to specialists in narrow fields of expertise, such as real estate, taxes and law.

Merrill Lynch is leveraging these new technologies to provide more cost-efficient advice and client management. Currently, Merrill Lynch is developing a state-of-the art wealth management technology platform, including a new desktop for financial advisors and websites for advisors and clients. The new platform delivers robust market data, news and portfolio management tools from Thomson and integrates superior planning, risk management, and wealth management capabilities from Merrill Lynch and other leading providers.

Capgemini has been helping financial institutions differentiate themselves and offer new levels of customer service by applying technology, standardized processes, tools and knowledge sharing in a cost efficient manner. In addition, technology has allowed financial services firms to offer these services to a larger market that includes the mass affluent. This market segment has been rapidly growing both in terms of numbers and investment sophistication, reflecting some of the tendencies typically seen in the HNW segment.

Mr. Abuaf concluded, "Building a superior client experience for HNWIs depends on effectively leveraging several key technology enablers, supporting efficient advisor workflows and utilizing the next generation advisory technology. Capgemini will continue to identify key trends and will utilize standardized processes and tools to increase efficiency, productivity and profitability for these firms as well as those attempting to differentiate their offerings for the mass-affluent."

The Capgemini Group is one of the world's largest providers of Consulting, Technology and Outsourcing services. The company helps businesses implement growth strategies and leverage technology. The Capgemini Global Financial Services practice is working collaboratively with the leading financial services institutions worldwide. Capgemini is a leading provider of comprehensive consulting services to the Securities and Wealth Management industries. The organization employs approximately 55,000 people worldwide and reported 2003 global revenues of 5.75 billion euros. More information about individual service lines, offices and research is available at www.capgemini.com

Merrill Lynch (NYSE: MER) is one of the world's leading financial management and advisory companies with offices in 35 countries and private client assets of approximately $1.5 trillion. As an investment bank, it is a leading global underwriter of debt and equity securities and strategic advisor to corporations, governments, institutions, and individuals worldwide. Through Merrill Lynch Investment Managers, the company is one of the world's largest managers of financial assets, with assets under management of $488 billion. For more information on Merrill Lynch, please visit www.ml.com.
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Publication:Business Wire
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Aug 17, 2004
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