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WHAT FINANCIAL SERVICES FIRMS CAN LEARN FROM BIG TECH CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE

By Madhur Kumar Jain, Senior Vice President and Global Head of Solution Consulting, SunTec Business Solutions  

 

The move of Big Tech companies into the financial services sector brings both risk and benefits to consumers and banks alike. Technology firms such as Alibaba, Amazon, Facebook, Google and Apple have grown rapidly over the last two decades. With a data centric business model focused on direct interactions with a large number of consumers, these firms are using their power to venture into the financial services sector, offering payments, money management, insurance, lending and much more.

For these firms, financial services may still only be a small part of their business globally (11% according to Leonardo Gambacorta, head of innovation and the digital economy at the Bank for International Settlements) but the potential is huge given their size and customer base and they will continue to fuel rapid change in the financial industry.  With their fiscal capital, customer data, strong brand loyalty and presence in consumers’ everyday lives, big tech companies have the firepower to drive innovation, and in doing so, pressure the traditional banking model further. So how can banking as we know it, survive the onslaught of tech companies and what do they learn from them?

 

The answer lies in co-operation and partnerships

According to a KPMG report, 26% of financial institutions are already partnering with one or more technology giants, and an additional 27% report planning to forge such partnerships within the next 12 months.

Big Techs derive their strength from the fact that they have deep expertise in analytics, big data, AI and creating customer centric experiences, which in turn help them to develop services that reach their existing users in no time through their channels.

Madhur Kumar Jain

But the thing to note is that the banks have an advantage in a few areas over the Big Tech companies  – their ubiquitous presence in every aspect of life of its consumers (compared to siloed but in depth experience of every individual Big Tech company); the consumers’ trust in banks for all financial matters and the vast experience they have in the industry.

This scenario makes for many opportunities of partnerships between banks and Big Tech companies globally for example, Apple recently launched a credit card with Goldman Sachs. Last year, Australian lender, Westpac partnered with Assembly Payments to launch a payments platform for its business clients. In China, tech companies are influencing how consumers spend their money with mobile wallets from Alipay and WeChat Pay. With the drive to adopt Open Banking by banks and fintechs, the potential for partnerships and innovative product offerings are becoming increasingly possible.

 

Embracing Open Banking

Open Banking helps banks advance their features to meet consumers’ changing needs, enhance their revenue and at the same time increase customer engagement using differential and personalized experiences. By treating personalized propositions as a commodity, banks can begin providing the personalized customer experience that helps retain customer loyalty. Banks can also go beyond their typical scope, increasingly becoming links in the value chain, for example, to help customers buy a vehicle rather than just give the loan. Leveraging customers’ data with the offerings of an agreement will give banks the opportunity to build business beyond their traditional financial products and actively look at integrating third party trusted products to deliver value to the customer

Partnerships like this can help commercial banks become more inventive and nimbler, digitizing their processing, systems and customer experiences to create new ways to meet the needs of their customers and form new income streams. With Open Banking, the banks’ partnership with fintech companies and other third-party providers is driving technology innovation to help traditional banks stay atop in today’s digitally-centered world.

 

Winning the digital race

As banks embark on their digital transformation journey in an effort to hold onto market share and capitalize in the digital economy, the industry will need to reinvent itself, driving the creation of more customer oriented, hyper-personalized services. Banks will increasingly become links in the value chains that will also contain non-financial services, meaning suppliers will join their digital ecosystem to offer a one shop stop for customers banking and other needs.

A fundamental change in the financial services sector is taking place as banks begin applying strategies to stay ahead of the curve. Financial institutions are prioritizing digital transformation of their ecosystems to achieve optimum efficiency and customer-centered experiences. Open Banking is quickening this move, making banking truly digital by establishing an interconnectedness that we currently see in the ecommerce industry.

With their size, analytics capabilities, capacity to appeal to huge, loyal userbases and revenue models, tech giants are strengthening their position in typical banking services at a fast clip. The competitive challenge that tech companies bring to the financial services sector presents a threat and/or an opportunity for banks to defend their market share by transforming their digital capabilities to deliver superior digital services that satisfy the demands of increasingly connected customers with growing expectations.

In a data-centric and customer-centric world, banks need to transform and work hard to retain customer loyalty and market share if they are to survive.  As more technology firms move into financial services it could make the sector more dynamic and efficient, but it also introduces risks for existing players. By embracing new technology, adapting to customer’s needs and learning how the tech giants are owning the customer experience, traditional financial services firms can transform, or they face the risk of becoming extinct.

 

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Finance

HOW TO ENSURE YOUR CHILD’S ASSETS ARE PROTECTED

TAX HAVENS

Making money is one thing, but protecting it is another – this is particularly true if you want to pass your assets onto your children. Any reputable bank, solicitor or lawyer will tell you that individuals who have amassed some form of wealth need to protect their assets, especially those with a high net worth. In the event of your death, there are many loopholes that could stop your children from benefiting from your assets, often causing further distress for your loved ones. It is therefore important to shield your assets from any possible risk by having a secure, legally binding plan in place.

As divorce rates in the UK rise, marrying more than once has become much more common. Research shows that one-third of all marriages in England and Wales are between couples where at least one of the spouses has been married in the past. This set-up often brings children from previous relationships, resulting in a UK-wide rise in blended- and step- families. As such, many people find themselves trying to manage the financial needs of their current spouse while ensuring that children from a previous relationship inherit their fair share of your estate. That’s why making a Will is an essential part of protecting your assets for those you leave behind.

 

MAKING A WILL

Making a Will is a necessity that many people ignore. Without a current and valid Will, the law decides who gets what and how much. The majority of your assets will likely be given to your spouse, who can then leave it to whoever he or she chooses. Even if you are separated, but not yet divorced, your children from your previous relationship may be disinherited if your new spouse decides to keep your inheritance for themselves. As such, it is crucial that you update your Will after any life-changing event to ensure the right people benefit from your estate.

For individuals who have remarried, the best thing to do is to write up a will that includes a trust. Not only will this protect your children’s assets, but it will also allow you to look after any future spouses in the event of your death. Your future spouse can access your assets during their lifetime, but once they die, your children will inherit the remainder of your estate.

A trust is particularly important if you don’t have a prenuptial agreement as it will ensure that specific assets are preserved for designated children. However, in the event of a second marriage breakdown, a prenuptial agreement will ensure that the assets owned solely by you (or any assets acquired before the marriage) go only to your own children if you so wish. So, having both a Prenuptial Agreement and a Will in place should account for every eventuality. It’s about exploring the options available to you as to how you can leave your assets.

Thankfully, Turner Little’s Will writing specialists work closely with you to explore every avenue, giving you complete peace of mind. We protect your children’s assets at all costs to ensure fairness and financial security for the whole family. We advise on succession planning, skipping a generation, protecting the vulnerable, preparing for care fees, as well as tax reduction. So if you’re looking for a legally binding document that ensures your wishes are carried out in the most tax-efficient way, get in touch with us today.

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Finance

THE IMPORTANCE OF THOUGHT LEADERSHIP CONTENT IN THE FINANCIAL SERVICES SECTOR

The collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008 marked a turning point in the financial services industry. Not only did the collapse have disastrous financial and regulatory consequences, but it also caused reputational damage on a mass scale, leaving the entire industry to rebuild trust. Indeed, as little as two years ago, AXA Group CEO, Thomas Buberl, commented that while trust may have returned to the financial markets, “it has still not found its way to society and citizens yet.”

Perhaps hauntingly, Mr Buberl also warns of the need to “better understand new risks to avert the next crisis”, which he says “could well have a non-financial cause.”

If the issue of trust remained fragile two years ago, then the challenges that COVID-19 has added only compound matters. KPMG recently reported that out of six principal matters financial services organisations face as a consequence of the pandemic, communications and transparency is right up there. For Executive teams and CMOs, in particular, this highlights the need to communicate effectively, not just with customers but with employees, suppliers and third-party dependents too.

But what does effective communication entail? As Yogesh Shah, CEO, iResearch, argues, now more than ever there is a huge opportunity for financial services organisations to leverage the benefits of thought leadership content within their communications strategies to re-build brand authority and trust at a time when it’s needed most.

 

Banking on industry expertise

Within every financial services organisation, a CMO will be able to find spokespeople with a wealth of expertise and experience in a range of industry matters. From data security to financial liquidity, business stability and risk mitigation, it is these experts that must form the backbone of an effective communication strategy. Effective communication, after all, relies on the ability of the reader to relate to their content; this in turn, relies on the ability of the author to convey their thought leadership position.

Thinking back to rebuilding trust post-Lehmans and beyond, there are many related and relevant topics to be addressed. What impact will particular regulations have on not just demonstrating compliance, but on providing customer insight as well as safeguarding customers and investors in the event of economic uncertainty? How will these regulations enable the market to continue to grow, whilst protecting data and removing unethical sales and promotions from the industry? Furthermore, how can customers be reassured about the use of automation, AI and data security in the midst of seemingly consistent reports of cyber security breaches? Every CMO should have a solid content strategy built around addressing these topical issues – and planning for other eventualities.

There are numerous examples of financial services companies that have used thought leadership effectively within their content strategies. In addition to the excellent example from Mr. Buberl, in response to the discussions around topics such as Brexit and the coronavirus, J.P. Morgan regularly produces thought leadership articles, reports and insights on the consequences of new developments and practical advice for not just its customers, but for the industry as a whole.

 

Demonstrating data depth

Using data within thought leadership content is also extremely important. Backing up key arguments with industry research or surveys to show why the issue or challenge is so pertinent, and how the rest of the industry might be responding to these issues, will also see engagement soar, especially if the research is relevant, timely and issues-driven. BlackRock Investment Institute has used data intelligently within its thought leadership strategy by creating focused investment information that aims to improve the way its portfolio managers control their funds and, importantly, helps its clients to maximise their own investment results.

 

Community and continued communication

Thought leadership content should be used to create a community; after all, every CMO will be aware that the financial services sector has been through the same challenges together for years. Capital Dynamics has been a prime example of this, regularly producing a 200-page guide of professional advice, guides, statistics and case studies in order to encourage other institutional investors to invest in its clean energy strategy. It is by creating this community that financial services companies can truly establish trust and authority with their target audience, and in turn, that the industry’s reputation can continue to be rebuilt. HSBC is demonstrating both data depth and continued community communication effectively in this space through their annual sustainable financing and investing survey.

 

Opportunities to engage in uncertain times 

KPMG highlighted how important both communication and transparency are for financial services organisations, and with so much change and turbulence currently across many sectors, customers in both the B2B and B2C worlds need to be assured that they can have confidence in financial services organisations once again; that they are one step ahead of industry issues and that their investment, in any capacity, is safe. And, with no doubt that more disruption and uncertainty is on the horizon, CMOs need to plan how they can use thought leadership content to support future contingency plans and be prepared with comments on possible scenarios.

By discussing issues directly relating to the sector and subtly showing the reader a solution to their challenge, thought leadership content will demonstrate invaluable industry expertise. Every CMO knows that content is king, but data-driven, issues-led thought leadership content is a proven way to appeal to target audiences and show how they can trust financial services industry once more.

 

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