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2021: THE YEAR THE FINANCIAL SERVICES SECTOR WILL ENTER THE ERA OF BOUNDLESS CUSTOMER ENGAGEMENT

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Steve Bell, VP EMEA Solutions Consulting, Verint Systems

 

It can feel like businesses lurch from one disruption to another. From macro-economic collapse to aggressive competitors, changes to regulations, political uncertainty, being slow to innovate; all these and more can undo the years of hard work that has been spent building up a viable, profitable company.

Yet dig beneath the surface of those issues, and despite the apparent variations there is a fundamental truth in all of them – that the reason for failure is an inability to change. History is littered with the names of once industry-leading companies that did not change their business model to reflect the evolving needs and demands of the market. Some have gone completely; others are shadows of their former selves.

 

Accelerated consumer demands

It’s likely that we will see more names follow them in the coming months and years. As we’ve seen in previous crises, not even storied banks are too big to fail. The pandemic will be blamed for much of it, and it will be a significant factor. But in all likelihood, all it will have done is accelerated what was already going to happen – just as it has done for digital transformation. We’re at a point now where consumers are expecting much more intuitive experiences and services from the brands they buy from, and that includes financial service providers.

Steve Bell

From new channels and ways of purchasing, to heightened expectations of what good looks like, banks are having to do much more with, in many cases, a workforce that is dispersed, disengaged, and underequipped to meet customer demands.

That means they need to adapt. They need to be able to offer self-service, social-media based customer interactions, mobile, ecommerce, and they need to be able to offer it at the same standard as innovators, all with a remote workforce. It doesn’t matter whether you’re selling mortgages or fridges, whether you’ve been in business 12 months or 50 years – consumers are taking their experiences from other sectors and expecting everyone they interact with to be at the same standard. Put another way, financial service providers are no longer just judged against their sector competitors.

Decision-makers know this – a new study from Verint found that understanding and acting on rapidly changing customer behaviours was a top concern for 71% of financial service professionals. Their top challenges highlighted concerns relating to remote workforces, with maintaining established relationships with clients, a lack of physical interaction between employees and customers and inefficiencies in managing urgent client matters all causes for concern.

 

Ushering in a new era of customer engagement

It all points to creating a new approach to customer engagement. Banks and other financial service providers need to recognise that they have to deliver an always-on experience, irrespective of channel, while at the same time taking into account the fact that their workforce isn’t going to scale to meet the challenge.

What’s the solution? The answer combines culture and technology to create an approach known as boundless customer engagement.

It’s cultural because it demands a mindset change. One that sees the entire organisation as responsible for delivering an exemplary experience, not just customer service, or a subsection thereof. Where key performance indicators and objectives across all functions are dialled into how that department or team supports the delivery of better customer experiences. It’s also about empowering workforces to act appropriately and deliver the best response to customers, allowing the entire organisation to adapt and act faster.

 

Combining technology and culture

It needs to be cultural, because culture defines how the next part is used. Technology is inherently neutral – it is only through its deployment and adoption that it becomes either a force for good or simply a quicker root to short-term margin improvement. If the right cultural mindset is in place, then the technology that underpins it all will deliver boundless customer engagement.

It will do this through enabling the right balance of automation and human touch, allowing teams to scale without leaving customers feeling as if they are at the mercy of an impersonal algorithm. With artificial intelligence, everything from front-end chatbots to back-end knowledge management systems serving up the right information at the right time, can be deployed to meet accelerated customer expectations.

 

2021 – the year of boundless customer engagement

By combining a culture shift with the deployment of technology, financial service providers will be able to break down the barriers that disrupt better customer experiences and meet demand. And they’ll be able to do it without having to massively scale up or put teams under intolerable pressure.

Whatever else happens, the consumer experience in 2021 is going to be one characterised by speed, by intuition, and by a vast array of touchpoints. For financial service providers to be able to deliver on this promise without dramatically undermining their own employees will take a new approach – one that connects the realities of work today with data and experiences to build enduring relationships through boundless customer engagement. In doing so, banks, wealth managers and other finance organisations will drive real business outcomes that cements ongoing performance, irrespective of the wider economic climate.

 

Finance

WHY PEOPLE ANALYTICS WILL PLAY A PIVOTAL ROLE IN SOLVING THE FINANCIAL SERVICES INDUSTRY’S SKILLS CRISIS

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Daniel Mason, Vice President EMEA, Visier

 

Successfully guiding teams of employees through the post-pandemic landscape will not be easy for any business, but nowhere is this more apparent than in the financial services sector. Here, leaders face the formidable challenge of rebuilding working environments against the backdrop of huge industry uncertainty, caused by the most turbulent 18 months in living memory, as well as an increasingly concerning global skills gap.

In order to succeed, not only do they need to create highly compelling environments that entice new and existing employees alike, they must also work to proactively identify areas where additional improvements need to be made. Doing so will enable swift and decisive action to be taken before seemingly small issues start to have a major impact on overall business performance or staff retention.

 

Storm clouds are gathering on the horizon

It’s safe to say the financial services industry garners more media attention than most when it comes to working conditions. With well over a million people employed in the UK alone, scrutiny into key areas such as work-life balance, job pressures and pay is near constant.

In order to gain better insight into current job satisfaction within the sector, Visier recently conducted a new study focussing on how both UK employees and HR leaders feel their businesses are managing during this difficult time, and how it is affecting both current performance and future prospects. The research revealed some worrying statistics that point towards a potential avalanche of resignations in the near future, unless something is done to prevent it.

Why is this? Put simply, too many financial services organisations don’t appear to know their employees are unhappy and of those that do, most don’t fully understand the reasons behind it, meaning they can’t effectively tackle them. This article will discuss these findings and their implications in more detail, before exploring how people analytics can be used to spot key trends – both positive and negative – early, and boost employee experience/morale at this crucial time.

 

Learning new skills is increasingly important to both employees and businesses

According to Visier’s study, over half (52%) of employees in the financial services industry expect to actively look for a new job outside of their current company in the next 12 months, with almost a quarter (24%) already doing so. In light of these alarming figures, you’d be forgiven for assuming financial services organisations have failed to adapt to Covid-enforced ways of working. However, this isn’t the case at all, with the vast majority of those surveyed reporting that their companies have reacted impressively to the pandemic.

There are, of course, multiple reasons why workers may feel compelled to move on, even if they have a positive overall connection with their current employer. While each case is unique, the three most common reasons cited in the study were, perhaps unsurprisingly, ‘poor work-life balance’ (43%), ‘salary’ (33%) and ‘feeling undervalued’ (25%).

Following closely behind in fourth place was ‘not being encouraged to learn new skills’ (19%). However, there’s a growing school of thought that this has a much bigger influence on employee satisfaction than the raw data might suggest. Work-life balance and salary have always been major drivers of change, and learning new skills can go a long way towards helping workers address these by improving the value they bring, as well as boosting their overall day-to-day efficiency. The findings backed this up, with over half (55%) of employees admitting they are worried that failure to develop new skills will lead to their careers stalling.

The study also uncovered a strong feeling amongst both financial services employees and HR leaders that learning new skills is a crucial factor in the future competitiveness of their organisations.  Just 59% of employees felt confident their employer was bringing in the right people to keep pace with clients’ expectations for digital services. Meanwhile, over two-thirds of HR leaders believe that the sector’s lack of available candidates is holding back their company’s digital transformation strategy. As such, not only do employees see a lack of skills training and opportunities as a blocker to their own progression, it also presents an existential threat to the organisations they work for.

 

People analytics is playing an increasingly pivotal role

As financial services organisations continue to work through the disruption caused over the past 18 months, they need to be conscious of key factors impacting employee retention, as well as address any skills gaps acting as barriers to effective digital transformation. Investing in the right new learning opportunities and upskilling current employees will be crucial in reducing unwanted churn and ultimately boosting long-term competitiveness.

People analytics tools give businesses – in financial services and beyond – the real-time intelligence they need to achieve this, enabling them to grow and thrive regardless of what’s put in their path. Not only can people analytics help identify worrying employee trends such as disenchantment about skills training early, it also provides the insights needed to fix issues before they can significantly impact operational effectiveness.

As the data shows, employee satisfaction isn’t the only factor at play. Job happiness is also tied to whether employees believe the business is making the right decisions for their future. However, without the right tools in place leaders must operating on gut feel alone, which is rarely a good formula for success.

Every day, a growing number of decision-makers are using people analytics to uncover the key insights needed to make informed decisions regarding who to hire, who to reskill and who to promote. This is no coincidence. The move towards people analytics at scale is not a passing craze, but the acceleration of a powerful trend that’s been gathering momentum for almost twenty years. Maybe it’s time your business sees what all the fuss is about?

 

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Finance

AS SAAS GROWS, FINANCIAL SERVICES MUST RETHINK THEIR SECURITY APPROACH

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Ben Bulpett, Identity Platform Director, EMEA, SailPoint

 

The financial services industry is facing an increasing number of issues related to the adoption of cloud-based services. The growth of cloud and SaaS has accelerated with the consumerisation of information technology, along with the shift to working from home. Users have become comfortable downloading and using apps and services from the cloud to assist them in their work but often without explicit IT departmental approval. In fact, there are 3 to 4 times more SaaS apps in use at a company than the IT department is aware of, on average. This is known as ‘Shadow IT’ and while it can cause headaches for any industry, financial services are open to the biggest threat.

The data that banks hold on an individual is far more sensitive than other industries. By not getting approval on SaaS, the IT team have no visibility and no understanding of how to properly secure the software. One small security slip-up and consumers can be left with very little. But it’s not just about bad security and the reputational damage that comes with it. Shadow IT can also cause heavy financial loss.

 

The risks with Shadow IT

Shadow IT takes up a whopping 30 to 40% of overall IT spending for large enterprises, according to Gartner. This means that nearly half your IT budget is being spent on tools that teams and business units are purchasing (and using) without the IT department’s knowledge. A lot of unapproved software and services may duplicate the functionality of approved ones, meaning your company spends money inefficiently. How does this impact overall revenue? While it depends on the industry, on average companies spend 3.28% of their revenue on IT, according to a recent study by Deloitte Insights. Banking and securities firms spend the most (7.16%) and construction companies spend the least (1.51%).

Additionally, Shadow IT comes with a higher risk of security and compliance complications because the tools are not properly vetted. These risks include lack of security, which can lead to data breaches. Your IT team is unable to ensure the security of the software or services and can’t manage them effectively and run updates. Gartner predicts that by 2022, one-third of successful attacks experienced by enterprises will be on their shadow IT resources. If we use Ponemon’s average breach cost of $3.86M and average probability of a breach at 27.2% annually, Shadow IT may be costing you as much as $350,000 per year in breach-related risk costs.

 

Ben Bulpett

Keeping track of SaaS

Tracking your SaaS footprint goes beyond core enterprise apps and spreadsheets – the reality is that this isn’t complete visibility. It’s a fraction of what’s out there, and the moment that spreadsheet is updated it’s now out of date. This approach is both time-consuming and filled with inaccuracies.

For example, if a finance director, through a cloud file storage app, shared a root-level folder with outside parties, this inadvertently provides access to detailed financial statements that would never be released publicly or shared. Salaries, profit and loss, and more would be unintentionally exposed. In addition, the finance director’s team files, folders, and discussions would be made completely public rather than internal and read-only. This makes financial files and other sensitive information indexable by search engines and the fault lies with the CISO and CIO, rather than the finance director.

Similarly, when a company is unknowingly running multiple duplicate project management apps outside of IT’s purview, spread throughout the company, this creates massive cost overlap and security vulnerabilities. How much sensitive data may have been stored in the other apps? These examples are all too common, and probably true at your own company.

 

Shining a light using identity security

Organisations can shine a light on Shadow IT and SaaS access risk, and ultimately have greater visibility of the full scope of ungoverned SaaS applications, by using technology such as identity security. This allows them to drive a seamless process from discovery to governance across the entirety of their SaaS app landscape and wrap the right security controls around every newly-discovered SaaS app (and the data within).

Not only does this help companies shut down issues around Shadow IT across the business, by doing so it also enables companies to be able to save hundreds of thousands of pounds each year.

 

Greater visibility

It’s estimated that by 2022, nearly 90% of organisations will rely almost entirely on SaaS apps to run their business. In this new era of working, the only way to fully protect today’s cloud enterprise is by first discovering all of these hidden SaaS applications and then applying the very same identity governance controls that are already in place for the rest of the critical business applications.

There is no room for mistakes. By addressing Shadow IT and SaaS access risk and having deeper visibility of the full scope of ungoverned SaaS applications, the financial services industry can save hundreds of thousands of pounds each year. And most importantly, keep their customers protected.

 

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