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Realising the power of fintech

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By James Turnbull, Chief Digital Officer, Reassured

There’s no doubt that digitalisation has transformed swathes of business practice. Today, for example, manual underwriting of an insurance policy has largely been replaced by digital processes.

While this makes things easier for the company, it has also led to an expectation from consumers of instant gratification. This has typically been seen in B2C services (think of the service people get from companies like Amazon). However, continually evolving technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT), are promising to revolutionise the way we work further still. We are fast approaching a future where consumers expect companies in all sectors to use data innovatively, and thus offer hyper-personalised services.

The rise of fintech is offering consumers greater choice in how they manage their money. It is also increasingly allowing them to obtain expert financial advice from the comfort of their home, and from the convenience of their smartphone. In an increasingly digital world, one in which customers expect to have instant satisfaction in all of their dealings, fintech offers an unrivalled opportunity for firms to maintain a competitive edge.

However, many businesses that operate in the financial services sector are still lagging behind when it comes to implementing this technology, and this includes insurers. In part, this is because many firms simply do not have large amounts of capital to invest in expensive tech, or the in-house expertise to develop it themselves.

Ultimately, those insurers that fail to leverage the power of fintech, will lose out to those that do. That’s because adopting fintech solutions allows companies to diversify their services and offer a great range of choice to customers. New technologies help firms offer even more personalised services, allowing them to more easily understand their customers’ needs and circumstances, and operate with greater agility. Ultimately, this all feeds into improved customer experiences and client retention.

All about the experience

From an insurer’s perspective, deploying fintech to create customer-first experiences is all the more important because providers now have less scope to compete on the grounds of price. Increased market competition, and the widespread use of price comparison sites, has narrowed how variable quotes can be. This trend will be reinforced as the greater use of AI makes quoting even more accurate. The battleground for insurers will be on how they manage customer relationships, and how they offer useful and convenient services.

Engaging with customers is critical, and it is here that fintech can add great value. Traditional insurers are often at risk of slipping into distant relationships with customers. Even now, they have to go through long, drawn-out and complicated telephone conversations with their insurers just to lodge a claim. Sophisticated digital platforms can help avoid this, by offering fast and seamless interaction: whether that is with expert financial advisers or advanced AI-enabled chatbots. Customers should be able to enrol in policies, claim money, and view products at the click of a button. Data should be examined in advanced ways to offer personalised products at the relevant times – such as offering life insurance policies immediately after a birth. Ultimately insurers  should work to analyse data in similar ways to tech giants – and thereby offer similarly personalised and customer-centric experiences.

Moving at a faster pace

Another issue that should be addressed is speed. Digitalisation has increased customer demand for speed and efficiency. Technologies such as electronic document capture and processing allow applicants to submit documentation online – and for a decision to be reached within seconds. For advisers, this reduces the need to continually ask clients for documentation when it comes to applying for insurance or investment products or reviewing their financial situation. For insurers, life policies can analyse the data stored on a phone’s health app and be issued shortly afterwards. Payments for claims can be made automatically and within minutes.

AI and predictive analytics are also helping firms completely rework business practices. Rather than operating on compensation-based models – giving the customer money when something goes wrong – the power of fintech can stop these things from going wrong in the first place. Insurance professionals should work with fintech cybersecurity firms, for example, who can analyse user data to act upon suspicious activity and prevent fraud. Machine learning technologies can also sift through massive data sets to manage and minimise financial risk. Why compensate for loss or inconvenience when you can prevent it from happening altogether? As reactive insurance policies are replaced with proactive ones, this is just one example of how fintech can radically transform the sector – to the huge benefit of both consumers and users.

Financial professionals and insurance experts will always play an important part in ensuring their clients remain financially healthy, but today they must do so in a way that meets customer expectations, in an ever-more digitalised and fast-paced world. By embracing new digital realities, and leveraging the power of fintech, insurance professionals can continue to play a crucial role in protecting their clients’ financial wellbeing.

Business

How can businesses boost employee experience for finance professionals?

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By Martin Schirmer, President, Enterprise Service Management, IFS

Over the course of the last year, The Great Resignation has seriously impacted organisations across the globe. Staff are quitting in huge numbers, leaving companies unprepared and struggling to fulfil their workloads. In fact, mass departures are happening at all levels of the labour market, as employees attempt to adapt to the hybrid working model and growing socio-economic uncertainty.

In light of this, optimising the employee experience (EX) to attract and retain talent has become a top priority for employers. Organisations have come to understand the necessity of taking immediate steps to drive employee engagement and reshape workplace culture.

The financial services (FS) industry is no exception to this trend. From increasing employee burnout to growing career dissatisfaction, the pandemic has exacerbated the need for transformation across finance teams. This is exemplified by recent data from Spendesk, which found that approximately 40% of finance professionals are willing to leave their roles or already have concrete plans to do so.

Organisations looking to get ahead of the competition must put in extra efforts to retain their existing workforce. The fact is that employee expectations and requirements have irreversibly changed, with more workforces becoming increasingly distributed. Today’s hyper-connected workforce values flexibility and simplicity, and it is organisations which offer these experiences that will succeed in the long term.

As part of this process, finance companies must look towards the power of technology to create seamless user experiences across devices. From automating workflows to improving overall efficiencies, Enterprise Service Management (ESM) can help organisations to boost user satisfaction and go that extra mile for their employees.

How poor EXs are driving finance teams to quit

With over 40% of employees spending a significant proportion of their time carrying out mundane, manual tasks, it is not surprising that poor EXs are having a detrimental impact on job satisfaction. Finance teams in particular have been slower to digitise core processes, leading to a heavy reliance on manual tasks. This not only increases the amount of time spent on each task, but also impacts the engagement levels of finance professionals who cannot focus on more strategic aspects of their roles.

As a result of the pandemic, flexibility has also moved to the forefront of finance teams’ desires. Given the fast-paced nature of this industry, the conversation surrounding work-life balance has increased rapidly. Failure to offer flexible working policies, coupled with a lack of technology to facilitate this flexibility, has led to poor EXs across the board.

Most notably, the overarching move to omnichannel, digital-first approaches has dramatically reset both customer and employee needs. Finance is the third-slowest running corporate function behind legal and IT. Operating in a competitive environment, 73% of finance operations are facing pressures to speed up, improve efficiency, and prioritise automation.

Mitigating the problem using technology

ESM, an offshoot of IT Service management (ITSM), is the cornerstone of smart digital transformation for organisations. It can help finance teams to streamline and automate routine processes, such as monitoring the status of service requests, approving expenses, sending invoices, and tracking payments. In turn, this will free up employees’ time, reducing the burden of manual tasks and enabling them to focus on the more strategic tasks.

Another advantage ESM can offer finance teams is the ability to adapt to each department’s minimum requirements for data privacy. Accounting, for example, needs additional layers of compliance built into the system.

ESM can also facilitate cross-departmental collaboration, helping finance professionals to communicate with the wider business and perform tasks more effectively.  Organisations can use ESM to incorporate all internal services into a single platform, offering employees a well-rounded view of the business and promoting a sense of community across all levels of an organisation. This will boost productivity, whilst enhancing visibility and control.

Ultimately, the current job landscape has brought with it a new set of challenges. Organisations in the FS industry looking to navigate the storm and retain top talent must refocus their efforts on bolstering the EX. Embracing a new era of technological innovation that empowers employees and boosts engagement is a critical step in this process.

 

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Finance

The penny has dropped – the finance sector needs Data Governance-as-a-Service

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By Michael Queenan, Co-Founder and CEO at Nephos Technologies

 

In our data-driven world, the amount of data is growing exponentially and it’s predicted that the amount generated each second in the financial industry will grow 700% this year. Leaders of financial services organisations have realised two things since the start of the pandemic – that data on their customers and services is their greatest asset and that they must embrace technology to make intelligent business decisions to grow successfully and outperform competitors.

Since the financial sector holds arguably the most valuable and sensitive information, organisations must do more than just store this data. They need to ensure its security, integrity, and governance so that it’s useful in improving the brand’s customer experience, innovating products and services or predicting future trends to improve risk management.

Yet without a robust data governance model – a strong set of rules and processes for what data means, and how it is categorised, owned, accessed, stored, and used – data is worthless. Only when an effective data governance model has been established, will data meet regulations and be secure. Data leaders must shift gear in their data processes to avoid hefty compliance penalties and unlock potential value from their data assets.

 

The data governance challenges faced by financial sector organisations

The barriers for achieving ‘good governance’ are many and varied. Ignorance of the benefits of data governance is a major hurdle for developing a governance strategy. Many financial firms have invested – at significant cost – in data governance tools, but struggle to deliver the benefits they are looking for. Many don’t have the right skills and resources to maximise or set the right metrics to measure the business value. Some are compromised by unoptimised gaps in their approach.

With many different elements to master, data governance is complex – from identifying the right tools to managing the challenges presented by encryption, all whilst ensuring that data quality is sustained and data is managed responsibly.  The negative impact of misplaced investment in ineffective data governance strategies can be significant, for the short and long-term.

 

Why data governance matters

With the acceleration of digital adoption in the financial services industry, it has become crucial to deliver seamless, intelligent customer experiences. Data governance is the key to managing data flow, ensuring compliance, and scaling up. Proof that data governance matters is evident in the Master Data Management Market growth prediction, from $16.7 billion in 2022 to $34.5 billion by 2027.

Data governance is a comprehensive methodology for ensuring the quality and security of the company’s data. The various benefits of an effective data governance strategy include minimised risk, coherent policies, metrics and processes, and better implementation of compliance and enhanced data value. However, for financial services, there are significant advantages as a result of the following:

  • Data governance saves the company money by increasing efficiency. Precious time can be saved by having good quality data and a single source of truth, with less duplication of data, and less time needed to correct data errors.
  • Good data governance gives the business confidence in having accurate and trustworthy data, the holy grail for delivering outperforming customer experiences.
  • A data-driven culture can also be introduced to your business through good data governance. With the ability to gather critical customer and market insights that can guide the direction of your business, data governance allows financial institutions to drive innovation and gain competitive advantage.

 

Bridging the governance gap with Data Governance-as-a-Service (DGaaS)

Increasingly organisations are turning to the ‘as-a-Service’ model to bridge the gaps in their data governance capabilities, as well as ensure critical alignment between objectives and results. This dedicated approach aims to minimise the risk of investments and delivers the strategy and proven technologies required to ensure data governance success.

DGaaS can be applied across each major component required to deliver good data governance. First, it uses software tools to scan all data within a typically complex financial services data infrastructure in its data discovery and classification phase. Without this detailed insight, organisations can’t always identify their data assets, any data mishandling and the level of risk generated.

The next part of the process is creation and documentation. This means organisations can drive their governance objectives through to execution, while removing the operational and recruitment overheads, which means they can purely focus on value created from data. In doing so, organisations can convert the raw outputs from the toolsets into meaningful business outputs.

With a holistic approach, DGaaS allows financial services organisations to focus on the transformational potential of data while critically staying compliant.

 

Reaping the benefits

Data is a vital asset to enable financial sector organisations to build the right capabilities to deliver their services and remain competitive. With a robust data governance model, financial firms can assess risk, predict trends, and seize market opportunities based on data-driven insights. Only data-driven processes, built on high quality and effectively governed data, will enable them to build outstanding customer experiences. It’s essential that leaders realise data governance is a fundamental discipline, not a luxury, and establish an effective model to formalise processes and responsibilities before their data lets them down.

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