Article Financial Services News

Q & A with Senior Client Director for Financial Services, Robert Ridley

Categories: Financial Services News
Posted 11 June 2021
QA with Rob Ridley

As part of our season of financial services insights, we sat down with our Senior Client Director for Financial Services, Robert Ridley to discuss his thoughts on the current challenges that financial organisations are facing and the impact digital innovation is having on the financial services landscape…

What key challenges are you seeing customers & organisations come up against in the Financial Services sector right now?

For me, the number one challenge within Financial Services is dealing with the advice gap where a significant proportion of the population does not have access to or feels that they can’t afford financial advice. This needs to change and technology is playing its part in creating rich client experiences that are designed to guide them at pertinent times throughout their financial lifetime.

There’s also the evolving demand for a true omni-channel experience and the expectation to deliver a consistent level of service wherever the customer wants it and whenever the need arises, which has become an increasingly important competitive differentiator for financial providers. When the pandemic hit and in-person interaction became impossible with branch and store closures, the reliance on digital became even more paramount. In fact, some of our leading banking institutions have over 80% of their clients using mobile as their channel of choice where adoption over the past two years has increased significantly due to the pandemic.

How do you see the digital landscape evolving over the next couple of years?

Changing Customer Experiences

Customers are looking for an integrated experience, or a “one-stop-shop”, for all of their financial needs. Customers interact purely on mobile and they want more digital experiences. Age is no longer a barrier to digital adoption and some traditional banks are trying hard to keep up with growing customer expectations. New digital-first banks can scale and release functionality quickly whilst traditional banks are trying to deal with legacy issues and old working practices which result in slow releases of improvements. Customers want the same experiences when applying for a mortgage, or getting some financial advice or servicing their Pension as they do when using apps such as Uber and Amazon. Easy, frictionless journeys….

Voice Operated Technology

As a generation grows up with Alexa or Siri devices on their phones and in their homes so will their expectations increase to engage with conversation technologies with whether it’s paying people, checking account balances or customer service journeys. Whilst our industry is ‘toying’ with this emerging tech, voice-operated technology will set new benchmarks in the way your clients will want to interact with you.

What impact do you think Covid has had on the Financial Services industry?

The impact has been huge. At the start of the first lockdown, an immense amount of work went into ensuring businesses could continue to operate remotely. There have been many CTO’s and Operation Directors who, overnight, had to find a way in which hundreds of staff could work from home and operate their call centres safely and securely so their customers could continue to be serviced. This wasn’t in the Business Continuity Plan!

On a positive note and more or less overnight, the pandemic changed the way Platforms, Providers and Advisory Businesses operated with remote meetings becoming the only way to meet clients and the introduction of electronic signatures – finally!! Change had to happen quickly in order for businesses to survive and I feel we are 5-10 years technically advanced simply due to the pandemic. I suspect some businesses can’t wait to revert to their old ways of working which will be to their detriment and ultimate demise as I feel we should take the positives from our experiences during the pandemic and keep the quicker, slicker and automated practices that customers now expect.

And finally, what tips do you have for Financial Services businesses to maintain relevance and competitiveness?

Tip 1

Understand your audience and build digital products to serve them. Many organisations are not looking at the right data which informs them of the customer demands and they don’t fully understand the market landscape so it’s critically important to establish a working framework that brings the people together in your organisation to address this. Marketing, technology, design etc.

Tip 2

Create ways of working that enable collaboration and innovation. Take a look at the culture within your organisation and working practices. Do they need to change? Simplistically, a digital world demands a more agile way of working to get new functionality to market quickly. Working on your culture is fundamentally key if you are to move from old waterfall methods to a more agile, collaborative approach. I’ve seen many banks develop ‘pockets’ of agile teams, however, this isn’t often consistent across the organisation which creates blockages and delays. Change needs to be led from the top down so engage your c-suite and get their all-important buy-in!

There are lots of different places you can choose to invest in your business from research and development to operations, culture, and channels etc. It’s important to drive innovation where there’s the greatest net impact to your business, whether this improves your operational resilience or provides better customer experiences, it’s best to start small and plan well.

Get in touch with our team today to find out more about how we support your organisation on its digital journey.