Improving customer experience has overtaken cost-cutting as the main priority for IT decision makers at British and Irish financial services firms, according to a survey commissioned by Fujitsu.
Of 176 tech leaders interviewed, 28% say that improving customer experience is one of their top three priorities over the next three years, up from 22% in 2012. While a similar percentage - 27% - say that reducing costs is a priority, this is sharply down from 51% in 2012.
More than a third of respondents expect to have more budget in three years' time and there is also a shift in how money is being spent as innovation begins to gather momentum after taking a backseat in the aftermath of the economic crisis.
Less than half of the IT budget within financial services organisations is currently spent on maintenance and a healthy 28% is now invested in "changing the company". More than two thirds of respondents want IT staff to focus on more value-enhancing tech initiatives rather than resolving issues created by legacy systems.
Anne MacRae, head, financial services, Fujitsu UK & Ireland, says: "Focus on enabling growth and driving innovation are crucial in organisations moving forward in an increasingly competitive market under threat from technology-led entrants. It's exciting to see the beginning of trends that could lead to a significant change in the role IT plays within financial services."
Despite the optimism, there are some grumbles from respondents, who say that more than half of the time something is standing in the way of financial services IT teams delivering to their optimum ability. Lack of labour resources is the main gripe, followed by lack of financial resources and internal politics.
Matthew Oakeley, head, group IT, Schroders, says: "I don't think that the reason that IT doesn't "deliver" is that the resources aren't there. Even if you had an infinite supply of resources, I just don't think that it would be possible to deploy them.
"There's a tolerance threshold for change in any organisation, and I think that there's a balance that needs to be struck between doing more and the level of concurrent change that the organisation can actually sustain successfully."