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Technology in Finance

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Attributed to: Tariq Zaid, CEO and Co-founder of Cheddar

The relationship technology has with finance plays an integral role in the overall development of the financial sector. As consumers continue to embark on more digitised services, they will greatly depend on technology to ensure they get most out of their money.

Cost of living crisis

With living expenses reaching record highs, the cost of essential goods is leaving millions struggling to save – making them desperate to keep expenses down. With the aid of Open Banking technology, struggling consumers will be able to save money without having to greatly alter their consumption habits.

Open Banking technology has flung open the gates of possibilities for consumers to manage their finances. This has only been made easier as consumers can now simply re-confirm to third parties called Account Information Service Providers (AISPs), that they are happy to continue sharing their financial data with different banking apps and services.

Following this development, consumers can readily and seamlessly access their financial information, allowing them to make important financial decisions at just the touch of a screen. As inflation continues to bite, consumers will rely on the help of fintechs to provide tailored financial solutions that work for them.

Digitisation of finance

As banking apps continue to take the place of in-person visits to the local branch, we will see the end to financial hardware. Bank cards will no longer be in use, only becoming a thing of the past. The smartphone will be the major player in how consumers interact with financial goods and services, placing an emphasis on software.

Handling cash, once a defining feature of banking, will also be phased out. All, if not, most, money will be digital. According to UK Finance, only 17% of all payments made in the UK were cash payments. That figure is likely to decline over the decade, leaving ample room for digital payments to take precedence over all other forms of payment.

How technology will help Gen Z 

Having suffered with severe disruptions to their education and entry into the workforce, Gen Z is arguably the most financially insecure compared with previous generations. This generation will need technology to cater to their unique pain points as they face their first recession.

Gen Z will rely upon technology to compensate for gaps in their financial knowledge and will expect financial software systems to work in harmony with their financial and personal goals. Technology to this generation is not just how they will gain access to their financial information, but is how they will maximise their first paychecks.

Gen Z wishes to see innovation and they will be quick to give feedback. Banks behind on technological innovation will lose out on having Gen Z customers and will struggle to entice them away from competitors.

In the face of the cost of living crisis, Gen Z are turning to services that will make their financial lives easier. For example, Gen Z needs to save whilst they spend, making cashback offerings and peer to peer payments (P2P) the essential backbone to this generation. And to make things easier, these services do not require consumers to make significant changes to their spending habits, allowing them to get paid back instantly for shared expenses such as restaurant and rent bills.

Frictionless banking

As consumers move away from older financial systems, we will see an increased appetite for frictionless and more personalised banking. Consumers don’t want to wait for transactions to clear or to receive generic services that do not suit their needs.

Financial institutions are becoming increasingly contingent on the delivery of technically-driven solutions, therefore, the future of banking must be one of complete ease and consistency. Sending money to friends or recuperating group expenses is becoming the norm as consumers expect P2P payment tools (that are bank-agnostic) to make these actions feel seamless.

The future of technology in finance

As time goes on, the trajectory of banking will boldly shift away from older processes to new hyper-personalised experiences. Fintech innovation is greatly improving business to consumer (B2C) and consumer to consumer (C2C) payments – boosting the financial economy and we can expect this trend to continue.

Gen Z are digitally intuitive and are tech savvy enough to adapt to the changes we foresee in the future. This generation will take full advantage of the opportunities to make and save money using technology.

Technology will take on an even greater role in our everyday life and will determine the extent to which we engage with the financial sector. As a result, we know that the future of finance will be greatly shaped by exciting new technological developments – so watch this space!

Finance

The Importance of Experienced Customer Service Advisors in Finance

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If there is one thing which can be said about the finance sector, it would be that as a customer-facing industry, the most important skills within any job position would be customer service skills. However, what would those job skills in customer service be? And what is the experience required for customer services positions? Let’s look at that in terms of the finance sector so that you can see just how important it is that customer services responsibilities are monitored closely.

What Does a Customer Service Advisor Do?

There are actually two kinds of broad categories of customer service jobs. The first, and probably most well-known, is a customer service representative who takes incoming calls or chats from a chat box. In other words, a customer service rep takes queries and handles incoming communications. A customer service advisor is more likely to initiate communications to:

  • Advise on any changes to financial terms, such as due dates and amounts
  • Follow up on late or missed payments
  • Keep the lines of communications open to maintain a positive CX, Customer Experience

While not exactly sales reps, customer service advisors can often upsell on these courtesy calls. It is one thing that basic, entry level customer services reps aren’t really trained to handle. Sometimes, they can pass calls up the hierarchical customer service ladder to be handled within the tasks of a customer services advisor who can add services or upsell financial products. However, basic level customer service reps cannot handle those kinds of services.

General Customer Services Job Description

So, what then are some job description examples for customer services? As noted above, customer service duties are mostly limited to incoming queries and contact points. Customer services skills include, but are not limited to:

  • Exceptional communication skills
  • Ability to be an active listener
  • Knowledgeable about financial products and services
  • Ability to read into a customer’s intentions
  • A calm and quiet presence
  • Ability to think on their feet for unforeseen situations

And those are just some of the skills and responsibilities in customer services. It should be said that although a job applicant has had experience in customer services, most jobs will provide training based on their company’s best practices and policies. Therefore, customer services qualifications may require entry level experience for customer service jobs, but the onboarding process will prepare them for work at that company and within the job for which they are being hired to do. During that onboarding process, they will also be made aware of very specific responsibilities of a customer service rep.

Which Side of Customer Services Would You Like to Work Within?

It often takes a certain kind of personality able to initiate calls and contacts with customers. With so many unsolicited sales calls being received daily, many consumers are put off before the conversation can even begin. It can be frustrating, to say the least. Since they are already customers/clients of your financial products, they don’t realise that customer service advisors are simply making courtesy, follow-up calls. Are you patient in nature? If so, this might be the exact job for you!

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Financial Services Makes Gains In Employee Engagement

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By Phil Chambers, GM Workday Peakon Employee Voice 

 

A new report shows that the financial services industry improved in almost all elements of employee engagement last year. Can such momentum be sustained?

After more than two years of change, one thing is certain: keeping workers engaged has become more challenging – and more urgent. Record numbers of workers have left their jobs in the UK. And, as turnover has increased, employee engagement – people’s mental and emotional investment in their work and workplace – has been tested. In today’s climate, engagement isn’t a nice-to-have; it’s a business imperative – especially as companies with engaged employees are known to reap benefits including higher productivity, customer satisfaction, and profitability.

The financial services industry hasn’t been immune from the so-called Great Reshuffle. But, according to Workday’s latest State of Engagement Report, it did make measurable gains in employee engagement during 2021. Of the 17 industries analysed, financial services’ engagement ranking jumped from ninth to fifth place.

The report analysed nearly 9 million employee responses from almost 2.5 million employees throughout 2021. It compared the engagement scores given by employees working in different industries over the 12-month period, as well as scores for the 14 drivers of engagement – including autonomy, goal setting, meaningful work, reward, and recognition.

Organisations in the financial services industry have been considered less   quick to evolve than others. PwC recently characterised insurance companies, for instance, as “traditionally risk-averse and slow to change”. But, as the report shows, financial services clearly made some improvements. It is noteworthy given the enduring pandemic-related economic turbulence of 2021 – and the fact that during that time global engagement scores overall slightly declined.

 

Where The Financial Services Industry Improved in Employee Engagement

Remarkably, the financial services industry saw increased rankings and scores in all but one of the 14 engagement drivers that the State of Engagement report measures.

Of all 17 industries analysed, financial services took top place for goal setting by the end of 2021 (up from sixth at the start of the year) and landed among the top three sectors for strategy and recognition too. These strong results indicate the industry provided clear direction to its people at both individual and organisational levels, and appropriately recognised employees when they met their goals.

The improvement in the industry’s overall engagement, however, was driven largely by a sizable increase in its environment driver score in 2021, suggesting that a significant number of employees responded positively to having more freedom around where they worked during the pandemic. Before the pandemic, it was unusual for financial services firms to offer flexible options at all. But, in 2021, more than ever before, many firms’ employees were working remotely or enjoying a hybrid of both remote and in-office work – as and when offices started to re-open. This unprecedented choice in where, how, and when they worked was appreciated, as the report indicates, by many workers in the sector.

 

Where There’s Room For Improvement

As the report found, many employees feel the amount of work they have is increasingly unmanageable. Workload continues to be a pain point across all industries globally, with workload satisfaction scores dipping slightly in 2021. At the end of the year, financial services received its lowest engagement-driver score for workload and ranked 11th among the 17 industries analysed.

This indicates employees in the financial services industry found their workload less manageable as the year progressed, which is perhaps unsurprising when considering the pandemic’s ongoing toll in many parts of the world, and the fact that remote working can lead to ‘always-on’ work lives.

To help mitigate burnout risk and diminished engagement going forward, financial services leaders and managers will need to stay close to their employees in the months ahead to find out how they can best support them, whether that’s with additional resources, greater work flexibility, or updated benefits. By regularly staying abreast of people’s needs and taking the necessary action, organisations can spot potential problems before they lead to resignations.

 

What The Industry Should Avoid Going Forward

In recent months, we’ve seen some financial institutions try to take a “return to normal” approach, requesting their people go back to working onsite five days a week. But, as the report shows, this approach may not be the best one for everyone, particularly as the past two years have revealed that many employees appreciate and benefit from a greater degree of flexibility.

Of course, not all organisations will be able to provide hybrid or remote arrangements for all their people. But greater flexibility doesn’t necessarily have to mean working remotely. It could mean more flexible scheduling options, or a shift in working hours to enable a greater work-life balance.

Either way, to retain the engagement gains achieved in 2021, the financial services industry should resist the temptation to look back, and must instead take learnings from the past two years. Amid so much economic and societal change, and with employees continuing to shift jobs in record numbers, companies cannot simply go back to before, but need to continue moving forward, listening to the needs of their people, and leading with empathy.

Specifically, leaders and managers in financial services will need to stay closer than ever to employee feedback, going beyond listening and working fast to implement change accordingly.

For the industry to continue making positive gains in employee engagement, it will need to: consider how to retain a degree of flexibility – updating models to reflect evolving employee needs; continue to provide clear individual and organisational direction to those working remotely and on site; create and maintain more manageable workloads through prioritisation and automating repetitive tasks; and continue to reward and recognise employees for their hard work and achievements.

While great strides were made last year, it’s more important now than ever that leaders in the financial services industry determine and understand how employees are feeling so that organisations can explore and shape a future of work that works for everyone.

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