Top trends in financial services for 2016

Joanna Hall, VP Financial Services at North Highland
Joanna Hall, VP Financial Services at North Highland

Better collaboration across silos

Silos exist across most companies, often preventing organisations from communicating effectively. This can lead to confusion and a lack of clarity, both internally and for the end customer. 2016 will see a greater focus on improving collaboration across silos, resulting in:

Improved customer experience ­– ensuring customers have seamless access to multiple products and services. This will require the whole organisation to align behind the customer.

Greater innovation – from cross-pollination of ideas to breaking down of departmental boundaries.

Collaboration becoming more personal – by incorporating collaboration measurements into individual 360-degree feedback, performance ratings and personal development. This includes offering meaningful rewards and actively sharing stories of what good collaboration looks like throughout the organisation.

Improved customer engagement

New entrants to the market, such as robo-advisers, FinTech partnerships and ‘challenger’ banks, are using advanced technologies to compete with traditional organisations, forcing traditional players to re-evaluate their business models and how they engage with their customer base. This is leading to:

  • Collaboration and partnerships with the new, disruptive FinTech companies – with traditional organisations increasingly prepared to sacrifice current revenue to invest in new business models.
  • Learning from the retail sector – which is significantly more sophisticated compared with financial services, prompting better use of digital communications and advice.
  • A holistic understanding of the customer – with the intention of improving the overall customer experience, adopting a truly customer-centric approach.

Stronger people focus

Employees hold the key to good customer engagement. In the coming year, we can expect to start seeing the following changes:

  • Culture shifts within organisations – as a result of hiring employees with stronger people skills, rather than technical focus, and investing in employee personal development.
  • Empowerment of employees – giving them the autonomy and authority to address customer needs in real time.
  • Putting employees first – is a concept Richard Branson placed at the heart of Virgin companies to provide a great customer experience.

Transitioning to agile ways of working

Historically, the financial services industry has shied away from agile adoption due to the large amount of regulation. However, this inflexibility has led to longer delivery times and failure to take a customer’s evolving needs into account. 2016 will see greater uptake of agile ways of working as the industry evolves to maximise competitiveness, resulting in:

  • Close collaboration – a common feature of agile teams which creates a more enjoyable atmosphere and the benefit that is derived from taking into account different perspectives.
  • Faster-time-to market – through improved business agility and better response times to changing environments.
  • Building iteratively and incorporating customer feedback ­– with companies using customer feedback to ensure they are on track, and whether changes need to be made before waiting until the conclusion of the project.

Digital transformation

Digital transformation is not just a technology issue, it is about people, process and culture. It is rarely just a tweak to the existing business model and often involves a significant overhaul, impacting everything from customer engagement through to the type of people employed. In 2016, companies undergoing digital transformation will need to:

  • Make better use of information held – ensuring a better understanding of customers through data analysis that will enable the delivery of a more personalised and dynamic service.
  • Re-think roles – CIOs need to play business partners and leaders rather than pure technologists.
  • Change organisational design – as digital cuts across all organisational boundaries, which enables end to end understanding of how the organisation collaborates internally and communicates externally with the market.
  • Adapt existing culture – to enable the organisation to become more agile and innovative, whilst still being able to manage risk from a regulatory perspective.

Digital transformation also allows the nature of the information to be tailored to the customer and presented through dynamic interaction. This more creative approach to communications helps customers to comprehend the level of risk they are taking with their investments, empowering them to make clearer, more informed choices.