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Watch out for the new army of Silicon Valley asset managers, warned Jaspar Roos (pictured), the wonderfully-titled chief inspiration officer for the Dialogues Incubator platform at ABN Amro.

The incubator, as its name suggests, is to develop emerging strategies. “We’ve developed a tool to help traders control stress, we’re selling compliance knowledge, we’ve even set up the Institute of Brilliant Failures,” Roos said.
 
What would firms like Apple, Google and Facebook do if they were asset managers? “The reason people like Apple is its design focus and simplicity,” Roos said. “They trust the brand. If it started a bank, it would likely use the same interface as iTunes, which already has 400 million active accounts.” Maybe it would be called iPay. “If Apple were an asset manager, people would love the simplicity of its features.”
 
With products like Google Maps and Google Analytics, the search engine giant is creating a bubble for its users and knows exactly what they are doing. “As a bank, Google could create the best pension plan because it already knows you so well,” Roos said.
 
Facebook already has its own currency, used for social gaming, which generated 15 per cent of 2011 revenues. “It would be easy to take the next step and become a bank,” Roos said. “In my view it will become a bank, not now, but at some point in the future.”
 
What asset managers need to start thinking about is trends like big data, social media research, the role of trust, psychology and impact investing. “I recommend you look at what’s happening in these non-financial markets,” Roos said. “One thing I know is that data will rule the world.”


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