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3 April

Technology Drives Financial Services Upheaval

A PwC report entitled Blurred Lines captures how the traditional financial services industry is grappling with the constant innovation of new market entrants and start-ups. These companies are now commonly referred to as “FinTechs”, and they are causing relentless change within the financial services industry, and within the finance department in businesses of all sizes.

PwC estimates that within the next 3-5 years, cumulative investment in FinTech globally could well exceed $150bn.

These new players seize the opportunities offered by ubiquitous internet and mobile. While the financial services industry has evolved along with digital technologies, “the constant penetration of technology-driven applications in nearly every segment of financial services is something new.”

These innovators are attracting investor attention. Funding of FinTech startups more than doubled in 2015 reaching $12.2 billion, up from $5.6 billion in 2014. FinTech companies and new market activities are redrawing the competitive landscape, blurring the lines that define players in the financial services sector.

To be sure, financial services incumbents are assimilating innovative ideas, but disruption is clearly underway. PwC says that “consumer banking and payments, already on the disruption radar, will be the most exposed in the near future, followed by insurance and asset management.”

The result is that for banking and payments services, up to 28 per cent of business is at risk by 2020. As a senior executive at a global banking organization put it: “We thought we knew our customers, but FinTechs really know our customers.”

PwC say that clients are becoming accustomed to the digital experience offered by companies such as Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple. As a result, businesses expect the same level of customer experience from their vendors and partners. FinTech is offering solutions that can better address business customer needs by offering enhanced accessibility, convenience and tailored products. In this context, the pursuit of customer centricity has become a main priority. This will help to meet the needs of companies wanting to move online and of a young clientele that takes digital technologies for granted.

The report says that over the next decade, the average financial services consumer profile will change dramatically as the Baby Boomer generation ages and Generations X and Y take charge. The latter group, also known as “Millennials” (those born between 1980 and 2000), is bringing radical shifts to client demographics, behaviors and expectations. Its preference for a state-of-the-art customer experience, speed and convenience will further accelerate the adoption of FinTech solutions. Because of the shift in consumer based experiences there is but one outcome for businesses and that is change. Those consumer interactions are experienced by people who work in B2B environments and as a result the line is blurred.

For business executives planning the future of their organizations these are fundamental trends that must be considered. Companies that remain static in their outlook and operations are destined to be left behind. Just because it worked yesterday, doesn’t mean it is good enough to compete tomorrow and in the future.

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