Today’s financial services (FS) businesses operate in a challenging environment. The spread that fund managers, financial advisors and lenders can command has been shrinking for more than 20 years, putting significant pressure on revenue, says Winnie Palmer, EMEA marketing manager at Seismic.
This challenging business environment is compounded by the heightened expectations of modern customers who demand personalized experiences and digital access to tailored information at any time that suits them.
For example, research from McKinsey shows that more than two-thirds of buyers now prioritize remote human interactions and digital self-service at all stages of the sales journey.
These external factors are driving financial services firms to commit resources to becoming more digitally-focused. Many have embarked on a digital transformation journey, leveraging technology and data to boost their operational efficiency. Some have gone further by adapting processes and tools that fundamentally transform the way they go to market.
So, as we look to the future, what are the big trends for SF companies? How can digital transformation deliver the desired impact to help them effectively compete to win?
1. Simplified operations
Digital transformation that focuses on digitizing data processes and automation can help financial services firms increase productivity, reduce costs, and improve compliance. For example, centralized data processes enable SF companies to update information quickly and accurately in a compliant manner.
A wide range of assets, including quarterly reports, fact sheets, and client follow-up meetings, can all be driven from a single source of truth with a streamlined approval process. At the same time, native system integrations into sales content, training, coaching, and CRM tools will deliver a smooth user experience, increasing employee productivity and reducing technology debt.
These improvements in operational efficiency can then be supplemented with the data insights that a centralized, integrated platform can provide. Artificial intelligence and machine learning can help identify patterns, behaviors and new revenue opportunities from data sets too large for humans to process.
For example, content engagement analytics can give SF companies access to tangible insights into the effectiveness of each piece of content. They can see what works and what doesn’t, where customers spend the most time, and what content resonates with certain customer profiles at certain points in the customer lifecycle. This allows financial services firms to understand the impact of different types of content and adjust their approach accordingly.
2. Compelling customer experiences
Millennials and Generation Z want to engage with financial advisors in a different way than their parents. It usually comes down to more dynamic interactions, personal connections, and online communications. Improving customer engagement by providing them with a digital-first experience is therefore essential to meet the needs and expectations of modern customers.
Financial advisors can now leverage content engagement data to understand how, when, and where clients engage with specific types of content. In turn, this enables them to adapt interactions to deliver a more personalized omnichannel experience via email, digital showrooms, social media and/or in-person meetings as part of a more agile and reagent.
Digital platforms can equip fund managers with the insights and recommendations they need to build meaningful relationships with modern clients in today’s crowded landscape.
More importantly, they can help build trust. With the ability to engage clients in the right online spaces at the right time with content tailored to their needs and circumstances, financial advisors will be able to position themselves as an expert who understands their clients’ specific concerns.
This will be key to building long-term relationships with the digital native generations who will inherit their parents’ wealth in the years to come. And, with the power of intelligent automation, this customization process can be streamlined to save financial advisors a lot of time and effort without risking compliance.
3. Committed and efficient teams
The final step is to foster a culture of continuous learning and development. This should always complement technology transformation – this is what will truly differentiate financial services companies and their advisors from the competition.
To improve learning speed and knowledge retention, financial services firms need platforms that make learning available on-demand through the delivery of fast, informed coaching and training on the data. This will enable financial advisors to hone their craft and deliver the engaging and differentiated experiences clients expect.
For example, this could include interactive lessons with built-in practice sessions and playbooks based on real-world scenarios or certain types of customer interactions. Or it could include ongoing advice that’s tailored to performance and optimized through analytics. Providing recommendations on what to do, say, and show at specific stages of the engagement cycle will help financial advisors make an impact and build more effective client relationships.
The competitive and complex nature of the SF landscape means companies need to give their teams the support they need to really make a difference. By establishing a culture of learning fueled by an easy-to-use training and coaching system, companies can not only ensure that each advisor has the necessary knowledge, but also that they are empowered to continuously improve specific skills while throughout his career.
Ultimately, truly impactful digital transformation in FS requires a three-pronged approach. Operational excellence, customer experience and continuous learning must be combined as part of a holistic transformation strategy that unlocks new opportunities. By understanding how these three imperatives work together, financial services companies can put themselves in the best position to compete to win.
By Winnie Palmer Seismic, EMEA Marketing Manager at Seismic.