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Why the finance industry is banking on a digital future

By Elenice Macedo, - Insight

Like many things in life, be it renting a movie, booking a holiday or hailing down a taxi, the way people manage their finances has moved on.

Convenience is king, and in a world of ubiquitous connectivity convenience is about more than just greater mobility – it’s also about how things, such as watches, glasses, cars or even homes, become more connected from our mobile devices.  Apps, comparison sites and services that work seamlessly across all of these things and devices are the new norm.

This is no different for the banking sector.

Three quarters of people across Europe use some form of online banking, and 65% prefer a multichannel mix. Within five years, 61% of people will be using mobile apps to interact with their financial services provider, according to our New Pace of Change study.

This is the latest development in a wider trend for consumer empowerment that’s previously seen banks rollout more functions to ATMs, as well as developing consumer mobile apps.

A digital vision

So what do these increasingly tech-savvy consumers think when they walk into a traditional bank branch and see a teller using old, unwieldy technology from behind a desk? How can banks and other financial institutions evolve their practices to reflect the changing expectations of their customers?

One way is in the evolution of the bank branches themselves, providing more open, flexible spaces in which customers and bank employees can interact freely. We’re already implementing this approach in Europe with different banks, using Human Centric Innovation to develop services (and redesign branches) according to the needs and wants of the people who use them.

And what do employees – most of whom, you would assume, are banking customers themselves – think about being stuck with legacy systems?

Well, we asked them – the employees at least – and almost two thirds of respondents said digital services make their lives easier.

This is perhaps unsurprising, since people increasingly expect the same standards from the technology they use at work as those the devices they’ve become accustomed to in their personal lives.

Twice that number think their employers should invest more in digital over the next two years, and a significant 77% believe the future success of their organization hinges on the use of digital tech.

It’s clear that digital is the way, so long as it can continue to make employees’ lives easier and enable them to better serve their customers. That means providing the devices and systems that can support a more mobile, agile workforce in meeting customers’ demands.

In the face of increased competition from new challenger banks established to serve a generation of digital natives, embracing more agile workplace dynamics – and providing employees with the technology to make this happen – is vital if existing financial institutions are going to stay ahead of the curve.

Putting the customer front and centre – wherever they are

The tide has shifted.

Financial services are placing a new emphasis on mobility and transparency and, in doing so, doubling down on providing a more customer-focused service.

It’s increasingly difficult to compete on price to attract new customers, so retention becomes even more important – and offering a service that puts customer care and convenience at its heart is key to this.

As the digital landscape shifts, so too does the nature of competition in the finance industry. Customers are increasingly favouring digital options, and it’s possible for banks to provide those – but the digital experience the customer receives should also be reflected in how employees are delivering that experience.

Workplace technology is evolving to allow for this, with just one example being the use of secure, fully integrated mobile devices that allow staff to interact with customers at a time and place that suits them. In-branch, and unobstructed by fixed desks, employees can share screens with customers and talk them through any issues in a more relaxed, transparent manner.

In fact, in many ways, it’s not really about the devices but the people on either end of them. The device, ultimately, is there to give individuals the right service or information, when they want it, and wherever they are when they need it.

Beyond devices, machine learning and data analytics are helping financial institutions make the most of the vast amounts of data available to them. By measuring the day-to-day interactions a customer has with their service provider, it becomes easier to respond to their future needs in a more efficient and personalised way.

With new, more agile technology at their disposal, employees are able to make the decisions that are good not just for the bank or other financial institutions but even more so for the customer they’re serving.

The biggest risk?

Given the scale of the opportunity – to shift to a digital workplace approach that puts the customer front and centre and makes a priority of balancing performance with cost and flexibility, and transparency and security – it seems the biggest risk would be to do nothing.

The digital workplace is one defined by a long-term vision for the future, and what in that future will generate value for your business. Which, when you think about it, is pretty close to what most customers look for in a bank, insurer or other financial services provider.

Want to know more about how the digital workplace is reshaping financial services? You’ll find a video explainer here, and a handy infographic over here

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