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3 Steps Financial Services Firms Can Take to Keep Up with Digital Standards

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, consumer expectations have risen across verticals, and financial services is no exception. Customers now expect their sensitive financial information to be instantly available from any device. Plus, traditional financial services companies are facing steep competition as disruption from fintech and Big Tech promises consumers an unprecedented array of options.

Financial services companies can keep up with rising digital standards and even set a higher bar themselves by providing personalized experiences and recommendations, making it easy for customers to access and manage their data, and implementing systems of continuous, customer-centric innovation. 

Facilitate personalized experiences and recommendations

As they roll out digital solutions, financial companies need to treat every customer like the unique person they are. By personalizing the digital experience, these providers give clients the best of both worlds, allowing them to feel the individual touch associated with in-person services as they seamlessly manage their finances online.

To effectively personalize, it’s important that businesses harness the power of advanced analytics and AI. Financial companies already have vast amounts of information about each of their customers and can mobilize that data to create deeper, more personal connections with every transaction. This could include customizing an online or mobile homepage to reflect its user’s location or activities or leveraging account health analytics to make spending or savings recommendations. Elsewhere, clients might be given the opportunity to chat with AI-powered virtual assistants for instantaneous, tailored help instead of being made to wait for service.

Financial services should also be thinking about smart partnerships and API strategies to further personalize the customer experience. Many banks, for instance, supplement their platforms with third-party services (such as credit ratings or tax preparation) that offer clients more holistic understandings of their portfolios. To similar ends, credit card companies often pursue API integration through their rewards programs, allowing customers to redeem points across the digital marketplace.  

Make it easy for customers to access and manage their data

The pandemic has accelerated a shift in consumer financial behavior that was already underway. For example, customers are increasingly choosing remote banking over visits to physical branches and stock-trading apps over brokers. These trends are forcing industry leaders to pivot to omnichannel strategies to find and maintain a loyal customer base.

One way to win in this new digital environment is by simplifying the onboarding process. Today’s customers, particularly millennials and Gen Z, have come to expect seamless sign-up for every new product and service—including those related to banking, trading, and other forms of wealth management. To compete, financial companies need to make it easy to become a member online. For instance, with the help of AI and machine learning, businesses can create straightforward digital onramps for opening accounts or applying for credit cards and loans. AI is helping financial institutions make loan decisions in real-time and expand access to credit by assessing credit readiness based on factors other than the traditional credit score.

Once on board, clients want lightning-fast services and immediate access to data. Meeting these needs requires that businesses centralize their services on platforms where customers can find what they’re looking for with speed and ease. Making real-time data access and ease of use a reality may entail infrastructure adjustments such as adopting a hybrid-cloud strategy to facilitate access from any device or location.

Financial companies also have to make sure that authentication processes don’t keep their customers waiting. Advanced analytics can come in handy here, as businesses can use them to set up customer profiles capable of predicting log-in locations, times, and devices. Done right, this can reduce false positives for fraud and allow for statements to be viewed, payments sent, and securities traded in seconds.

Increasingly, customers of financial institutions are using or augmenting their capabilities with offerings from fintech companies in areas such as payments or financial management. This has only elevated the need for companies to provide data access and security for their customers in a way that aligns with their organizational strategy.

Implement systems to fuel continuous innovation

As financial services firms put customers at the center of their businesses, they need systems that foster co-innovation: continuous and collaborative innovation. Only by setting up those systems and processes can they become perpetual industry leaders, not companies that pursued digital transformation for a couple of years and then let innovation fall by the wayside. 

Of course, companies can use data-driven insights to personalize the customer experience, but they should also be used to inform strategy and experience design. Defining the right OKRs and putting data-driven processes in place to review and inform a company’s roadmap enables a portfolio approach to innovation that provides agile decision-making and continuous optimization.

Finally, in addition to leveraging data for personalization and internal decision-making, financial services providers need to choose the right partnerships. Whether they empower companies to make the most of their data, provide complementary offerings, or help to implement machine learning and AI, sustainable collaborators will fuel a cyclical process of innovation that can be learned from and improved upon with every iteration. 


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Raju Patel

Raju Patel



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21 Nov 2022



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This post is from a series of posts in the group:

Financial Transformation

The pace of evolution for many corporate finance and accounting functions is accelerating. The mandate of the CFO is expanding and the challenges they face accumulating. This blog is an exploration of these topics.

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