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The financial services industry has been operating in a rapidly changing landscape, as customers' needs and expectations continue to evolve. In order to stay relevant and competitive, banks and insurers must reinvent themselves by rethinking their business models and putting the customer at the heart of their operations.
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Our whole essence as an organization is not to provide the solution, but to act as a catalyst for change and to make a difference to the banking industry itself. This is vital, as my view is that the financial services industry needs to reinvent itself and rethink the way it is operating today. There is a global tsunami of change that is taking place. The world is not being shaped by bankers, but by many other organizations that have a direct impact on individuals. Companies such as Netflix, Alibaba, and Amazon are now shaping the expectations of what consumers want.
The banking sector as a whole are not moving at the same pace of that change, even though customers want those changes. My question is, are you in the banking sector actually aware of it and doing something about it? Or are you standing still because you are successful making money today and maybe aren’t really addressing that change?
We’ve seen over the last decade how major brands have struggled, had to change, and disappear from day-to-day activity in the banking sector. It doesn’t matter how big you are as an organization or how strong your brand is, you have no divine right to survive. Your customers are the ones that will choose whether you survive or not.
Over time, a subscription economy has developed. Traditionally, people went to a bank to borrow money to buy a house or car. The youth of today don’t actually want to have a car sitting in a driveway, not being used the majority of the time. They want it as and when the requirement arises. They’re prepared to pay a subscription to get a car instantly for a period of time and then not use it afterwards. As a result, the banking industry may find that the market is shrinking in terms of profit streams.
Another issue is that many banks today are inappropriately structured. Many have a siloed structure, which is not the way to run a business. Huawei and Amazon do not run businesses in a siloed structure, they put the customer at the heart of it and build the business back, rather than individuals in the organization looking after their own individual parts of the business.
A challenge I’ve experienced in recent times is that boards of banks do not have a sufficient number of technology-minded people on them. Boards are often full of people that are crunching numbers rather than engaging with technological changes. Very few of them really use today’s technology in the way that their children and grandchildren do, even though those children and grandchildren will be the ones that shape what the expectations of the future are. If you do that, and listen to them and engage with them, you’re much more likely to be able to drive a business which is going to be relevant and successful.
A lot of organizations have put an awful lot of money into digitalization but my question is, has that turned out as a benefit at the bottom line? It appears that the jury is still out in some organizations as to whether these changes have really improved revenue streams or changed customer behavior.
Ultimately, banks and insurers need to embrace change and rethink their business models to stay relevant and competitive in a rapidly evolving landscape. Putting customers at the heart of their operations and keeping pace with technological changes is the only way to not only survive but thrive in the future of financial services.
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