These days, a financial company’s core software and databases connect to a myriad of channels, such as ATMs and the Internet, where they are accessed by millions of desktops, laptops, and mobile devices. Online tools and connected devices further bridge the gap between financial institutions and customer behaviors while also providing solutions for critical pain points. But for traditional firms, this is a mixed blessing.
Firstly, the lack of security-prioritization endemic to the IoT ecosystem creates additional headaches for the finance and wealth management industry. In addition, a single Google search instantly provides today’s finance customer with an endless list of companies eager to manage their money. Social media users are literally inundated with advertising from fintech startups that make digital experience a priority.
The end result is today’s customers have countless choices—not one or two local options—and few restrictions on how to manage their wealth. Firms no longer compete only with each other, they also compete with payment processors, fintech startups, and online companies, all of which are rapidly scooping up traditional finance customers.
The digital disruption in the financial sector speaks directly to several industry issues:
The success of the finance industry relies entirely on customer trust. We assume financial institutions are responsible enough to be entrusted with our money and to provide sound advice about what we should do with it. We trust them to behave in accordance with their own guidelines and we hope they care enough about their customers to take seriously the job of safeguarding their investments and life savings.
However, the antiquated nature of typical internal finance software suggests an industry that has difficulty evolving with the times. Consumer-facing finance software is confusing at best, often completely inscrutable. More significantly, finance institutions are losing direct interaction with this “mobile generation,” elevating significantly the cost of providing consumer finance products and services for U.S. & global financial institutions.
Millennials reject the relationship-based, brick-and-mortar finance experience previous generations relied on, in favor of online, self-service money management. They distrust traditional firms, in part due to disruptive digital newcomers (e.g. Wealthfront, Robinhood). Fintech funding is surging overall, with start-ups raising a record $24.6 billion in funding through the third quarter of 2019, surpassing 2017’s annual total according to CB Insights.
Now is the time to modernize your software and services before Google, Apple, and Amazon (or even Bitcoin and Ethereum) disrupt the industry. Indeed, a significant percentage of young consumers would be open to having Google, Amazon and Apple manage their money if the companies offered such services. According to an Accenture survey, younger consumers were also more likely to want their banks to offer more services and solutions to help them with financial management and purchases. But nearly 75% of millennials say they'd be more excited by a financial offering from Google, Apple, PayPal, or Square over their nationwide bank, according to a survey by Scratch (a subsidiary of Viacom).
But the end of brick-and-mortar doesn’t have to be an inevitability; nor does the end of personal relationships with your customer. Because “Banking is widely viewed as a purely transactional activity, but people are seeking advice and relationships that improve their financial well-being,” said Robert Mulhall, Accenture Managing Director. The costs, and your customers’ experience, can all be efficiently managed with an effective omni-channel strategy.
With millions of users across thousands of branches, maintaining and managing Core Banking Software represents a major investment even for the smallest firm—often the largest cost of running the firm. This figure is compounded by the countless mobile users who each utilize several versions of your consumer software. Because mobile technology entails considerably more failure-points than typical enterprise web applications. To face these complex challenges, Anexinet offers proactive Tier 2 and 3 Service Desk and Support, enhancement tracking, and prioritization—along with in-app feedback management and bug triage tiered for increased efficiency.
Software—and how we interact with it—has changed radically over the last five years alone. But our most trusted financial institutions have been doing business for over a century (e.g. American Express was founded in 1850). As a result, most firms are locked into legacy technology, hampering IT performance and impacting the user experience. Having developed their enterprise software over the past few decades, the vast majority now find themselves plagued with piecemeal legacy software that requires several workarounds to get anything done. Take a look at how Anexinet’s digital transformation efforts improved IT processes for eMoney Advisor, expanding their production environment by providing a scalable network infrastructure along with a future-proof technology roadmap, enabling eMoney to rapidly deploy its financial application while adding new cloud capabilities for specific time-to-market.
Traditional systems can't always distinguish between personal financial files and non-sensitive data. And in-house IT teams may not have the experience required to build and implement a tiered information-management system. Further, older systems can’t handle most modern security requirements, and the lack of security-prioritization endemic to the IoT ecosystem only creates more unnecessary headaches for the finance industry.
Finally, these problems are compounded by the fact that attackers worldwide are targeting financial systems more than ever. Phishing is high on the list of security issues, followed closely by compromised emails and ransomware attacks.
Financial organizations are under intense pressure to differentiate themselves and provide a valuable, customer-centric experience. But this is a specialized area for any IT team, and institutions lacking specific expertise will likely struggle to achieve it. Don’t let organizational structure and process dictate customer experience. Craft digital experiences and internal processes that align with the customer journey from the customer’s point of view.
So many financial firms have yet to get caught up with today’s technology, opting to ‘check the box’ rather than adopt a true consumer application strategy. But institutions can’t focus solely on improving customer engagement without also considering security and cost-effectiveness. This makes it vitally important for the financial industry to continue to modernize by adopting digital solutions in favor of antiquated processes.
Our proven digital strategy methodology is trusted by some of the biggest names in wealth management. Let Anexinet help develop your ideal consumer app strategy by defining business and technical requirements, building a gorgeous, on-device Proof of Concept, and formulating a development plan for moving forward.
Consumer choice has always been an important driver of innovation in the financial services industry, but technology is intensifying competition, causing a significant shift in favor of customer experience. With so many options available—and each one immediately accessible to customers—it's the overall customer experience that makes all the difference. Digitally savvy consumers demand more and expect their financial institutions to keep up with their evolving needs and preferences. Why? Because they can. Some companies are slow to provide robust digital experiences. Others have attempted digital innovation only to be held back by the challenges of legacy systems and processes.
According to this Capgemini Report, “Banks are struggling to deliver a delightful last-mile experience to customers as non-traditional firms swoop in… Customers report low positive experiences across many financial interactions, with loan and mortgage applications and problem resolution identified as the highest friction.”
If your institution isn’t embracing digital transformation, the end result is inevitable. You will lose the valuable customer relationships you worked so hard to build. Further, poor experiences at initial touchpoints, complex last-mile transactions in a customer’s journey, and a frustrating app support experience can lower the probability of forecasted revenue for US and Global Financial Institutions. Considering how easy it is for consumers to seek out an experience they love, many organizations are losing market share to digitally savvy companies. This is not a fad. Customer experience is here to stay and it's reshaping how financial services firms compete for your business.
Anexinet makes digital transformation and a great customer experience that much easier. Consider how we helped Wealth Management Solution provider, InvestEdge. Though business was growing, their internal software development methodology wasn’t evolving to meet demand. Anexinet drastically accelerated their ability to roll-out new products by implementing an Agile product management and software development methodology. The proof: InvestEdge built a new Compliance Middle Office product, a Manager Model Exchange, and UMA functionality within a year of the transformation.
This Temenos study found nearly a third of finance industry leaders fear decreasing customer loyalty as a primary concern. Thankfully, a solid, agile digital customer-engagement strategy goes a long way to differentiate your organization from the prepared, well-funded competition. Increasingly, those that reinvent the customer experience from legacy processes, experiences and touchpoints to reflect modern expectations see improved customer retention and engagement. Today's customers expect more. Improving how people experience your organization, services, and financial products both online and offline is well within your reach.
Though making the transition is far from a simple, one-time event, the following “low-hanging” initiatives should generate significant returns almost immediately.
Consider how reinventing your digital customer experience might improve your organization:
● Efficiency: Automating back-office processing improves the customer experience in both the digital and physical environments by enabling shorter wait-times. For more information on ways Robotic Process Automation (RPA) can be used to streamline processes at your finance organization, check out this episode of the Modern Digital Enterprise, Anexinet’s digital transformation podcast, featuring Citizens Bank VP, Jeet Shome.
● Unexpected Value: Surprise and delight customers by delivering value in tangible (yet unexpected) ways (e.g. proactive account analytics). This demonstrates your organization’s attentiveness to the digital demands of account holders.
The right digital customer engagement strategy dramatically expands your reach and retention, with the added benefit of delighting existing customers. Improving your customer experience at every touchpoint provides a valuable opportunity to set your financial services firm apart from the competition and reduce churn from the very first customer touchpoint.
Core financial services are highly commoditized, making differentiation by customer experience all the more critical. Here’s how to make it happen.
Inefficient, paper-based processes turn away customers. New customers are easily frustrated by the paperwork required to open an account and begin conducting financial transactions. A lack of end-to-end self-service options is a pain point for finance customers; so much so, that a majority of new account applications are abandoned completely. Because (now more than ever) it’s cheaper and easier to simply switch firms should a customer encounter an overly complex or frustrating financial-services interface.
Complex regulations governing wealth management are also ripe for digital transformation. Too often, these rules are embedded in spreadsheets or in programming code, leading to complex, frustrating front-end experiences. A business-rule processing engine and event-driven workflow technology can simplify underlying complexities in the account-creation process to minimize friction. Remember, the goal is to ensure investors receive a white-glove experience, whether digitally or in-person.
Streamlining your onboarding process by taking it online will have a big impact on customer acquisition. For one thing, this is a touchpoint you have with every customer. Further, since it’s often the very first interaction new customers have with your organization, it makes sense to prioritize improving the experience as it may represent your best, simplest means of ensuring lasting customer loyalty.
Customers make decisions and form opinions about your organization based on their touchpoints. The onboarding process is one of the first opportunities to build positive customer engagement and loyalty. A streamlined, personal, hassle-free onboarding process positions your organization to attract and retain more customers.
In general, wealth management firms need to improve self-service options while empowering employees with digital tools and contextual data to better serve customers. Thanks to today's technology, there's so much more you can do.
If your institution isn’t embracing digital transformation, you run the risk of losing the valuable customer relationships you worked so hard to build. It’s time to revisit your customer-loyalty investments and digital customer-engagement strategy to enable users to get the most out of every interaction with your brand.
Our white paper will help you understand:
This whitepaper describes the practical steps your organization should take to boost competitiveness and stay ahead of the digital transformation happening right now in financial services.
Naturally, financial factors are a primary motivator for consumer engagement across all industries. In fact, a McKinsey Global Institute study revealed data-driven organizations are 23 times more likely to acquire customers, six times as likely to retain those customers, and 19 times as likely to be profitable as a result. Further, customers also appreciate the added value analytics brings, especially when it makes money. Analytics provide transparency by showing customers which changes, programs, or options allow them to maximize their use of your services in ways that benefit their wallet.
As the democratization of wealth management increases, greater transparency into financial data helps consumers plan their responsibilities and commitments in real time. Analytics data offer solutions for doing so, as long as core systems have reached the necessary level of digital maturity. For example, analytics could show a customer that their monthly savings are lower than average, while highlighting ways they can easily save more. With analytics-driven budgeting tools, customers can target specific spending habits and set future goals.
Despite that digital transformation is disrupting the traditionally relationship-driven wealth management industry, analytics provide a huge opportunity to delight and surprise self-service customers with thoughtful approaches to informed investing. Even in the face complex processes (e.g. opening new investment accounts, executing investment transactions), today’s investors are more active than previous generations and rely on real-time status updates beyond market movements. Your wealth management organization can set itself apart by developing a customer-experience strategy that delivers market insights.
A new generation of investor has emerged, one accustomed to having rich information and premium tools at their fingertips. Investors are concerned with even the smallest fluctuations. They expect to see the impact of market fluctuations reflected in real-time in their portfolio, and they demand the tools and research insights to react. Real-time data augments what advisers are able to do for wealth management customers. Bot-driven advisory and expanding investor choices mean increased competition for traditional advisors and brokers. The good news is trusted interpersonal relationships still matter—but these must be paired with advanced digital tools and event-driven middle and back-office processing.
Your organization risks customer retention problems if transaction requests result in a multi-day, back-end process that lacks investor visibility. In short, providing transparency into the end-to-end processes of complex money management is critical to remain competitive.
Analytics-Driven Portfolio Management
Investors increasingly use analytics-assisted portfolio-management tools to augment the advice of human advisors and managers. The more client information a financial services company possesses, the more useful and relevant the data they’re able to provide.
Consider these advantages of analytics:
- Real-time performance insights and data integrations allow you to act sooner in your clients’ interests and offer more accurate advice.
- Long-term planning. Advanced analytics compare past and present data streams to enable accurate, long-term forecasts for planning twenty years ahead.
- Breaks-down internal and external silos. Lack of insight into a client’s full portfolio of investments and assets prevents you from accurately aligning the client’s risk profile to a holistic investment strategy. Even assets not invested with your firm provide insight into a client’s goals and overall financial picture.
In summary, using analytics to build a complete view of client financials puts advisors in a better position to account for all costs (e.g. taxes, fees, etc.), and potential returns.
Oddly enough, this report identified a significant analytics “performance gap.” That is, eighty percent of organizations considered analytics important, but almost none felt it was being effectively implemented.
Your organization can take meaningful action to improve your customer experience through analytics, by checking out this Anexinet webinar, “Using Advanced Analytics to Improve Customer Experience," or by scheduling a free consultation to learn more about how our Customer Experience Analytics Kickstart ensures your financial organization has the data it needs to deliver a truly superior Customer Experience.
Real-time data flow across applications is essential to creating memorable digital experiences. Consider a common financial services customer touchpoint: the help desk call. To best serve each customer’s specific needs, associates need a 360° view. Comprehensive, real-time visibility into a customer’s actions will considerably shorten the support cycle. For instance, if an active caller is trying to purchase shares of stock online, making that information accessible helps your team provide relevant assistance more quickly.
Real-time information gives your team better context when speaking with customers by providing the clarity necessary to help them complete the customer’s digital journey. To accomplish this, finance and wealth management firms need to move away from batch processing and embrace real-time, event-driven data streaming. Let’s take a closer look.
pect modern digital experiences that actually improve how they manage their money. In order to retain customers and expand your customer base, your organization will need to transition those internal processes that support your customer service goals. Event-driven architecture makes this possible.
Staying competitive at scale requires updating your approach to digital architecture. New entrants in the Financial Services industry are able to gain market share while enjoying greater efficiencies. This is especially problematic for institutions that still rely on legacy systems. Such established organizations may know their architecture needs an overhaul but feel overwhelmed by the complexity of the process.
Event-Driven Architecture enables great customer experiences
Customer-centric business events are at the heart of modern, event-driven architecture. Whether through a mobile application or via a live person armed with contextual information, an event-driven technology backbone significantly improves the quality of your customer experience by enabling faster, more personalized service. The goal is to make these events immediately available to every employee, system, user interface and business process that impacts the customer experience. This is best achieved by streaming business events through a centralized hub as relevant systems listen in real-time. The result is a more efficient and intelligent customer-focused organization.
Consider these five outcomes an event-driven architecture helps achieve:
Customers expect responsive digital experiences that feature up-to-date information. Applications should be contextual and intuitive, powered by back-end systems capable of processing thousands or even millions of events, as they occur in real-time.
To minimize friction, internal processes must take advantage of the latest technologies and innovations. Information shouldn’t be locked in data siloes or legacy architecture. An event-driven architecture helps you integrate disparate systems in a highly scalable manner.
Event-driven architecture enables the integration of real-time data into customer experiences, empowering your organization to develop digital tools that deliver the latest, most accurate information and analysis.
Back-office systems processing complex financial transactions can trigger important status events. Digital applications can listen for these events and update the status of a pending transaction in real-time.
Event-driven architecture helps you educate customers by putting advanced analytical tools right in their hands. On-demand toolkits proactively suggest ways to help customers manage their money better and plan for the future.
Event-driven architecture enables banks to provide customers the best possible digital experiences. But as you craft digital customer experiences, instead of viewing online and offline as separate and distinct environments, consider how these touchpoints connect and work together to create holistic, unique interactions. Bring your internal processes in-line with customer-facing systems, and you'll be rewarded with a more cohesive customer-service experience.
Win-Over Customers with Event-Driven Architecture
Modern, streamlined customer experiences reduce churn rates and increase customer satisfaction. Event-driven architecture helps you get there. Following your customer’s journey empowers your retail bank to boost engagement and identify areas in need of improvement.
Mobile technology is the key to redefining the branch experience. People under sixty will do just about anything to avoid going into their actual bank branch—with the exception of driving-thru the ATM. But with the emergence of peer-to-peer payment services (e.g. Venmo, Apple Cash) further eliminating the need to carry cash, even this is at risk.The following stats illustrate the trend away from Branch Banking:
Most banks have focused on consumer self-service and invested in the mobile apps and services they provide customers. While these mobile apps provide convenience (e.g. depositing checks, paying bills), these features provide temporary engagement advantage only, and fail to drive long-term competitive advantage by strengthening the customers’ relationship with the bank. For instance, the quality of a bank’s consumer app fails to influence whether customers establish a Home Equity Line of Credit or open an investment account.
What might deepen a customer’s relationship with their bank? How about a mobile app that lets the teller establish a personal relationship—and a sense of trust—with customers. Banks must pursue a mobile field service approach to empower employees to better engage customers by literally meeting them where they are—in the home or at the local coffee shop—rather than insisting customers go out of their way to get to a Branch. By meeting customers where they are and by anticipating their needs, your organization will engage more consumers and improve customer service as a whole. Even small, simple steps towards giving greater consideration to the customer journey can give a big boost to your organization.
Digital Transformation is about evolving out of paper-based processes and disconnected systems; boosting productivity by increasing the completeness, accuracy and timeliness of information. This lets organizations make better use of company personnel and resources to serve customers more efficiently and effectively.
As the foundational element of a larger digital strategy, mobile can be the primary interface for customers and bankers and is to be leveraged when the situation calls for it and when it matches the customer’s preferred channels. For instance:
The following examples illustrate why mobile devices are the new primary interface for financial data and operations:
Mobile is the Face of Digital Transformation
The digital tools your employees use are opaque to customers—and for good reason. If customers saw them their sheer complexity would only compound any feelings of anxiety or anguish. Not only are few of them designed to engage and be shared with clients, but more are not even designed to be mobile.
At the same time, we know our customers are more comfortable in their own homes or at low-stress locations (like a coffee shop, or a branch that looks like a coffee shop) – and that comfort allows them to open up, share more information and be more receptive to advice. So, focus on getting advisors out from behind the desk (and onto a comfy sofa) to enable better conversations with clients while increasing overall efficiency.To that end, here are a few guiding principles for your mobile innovation journey:
Mobile is the greatest opportunity since the internet to rethink and reengineer interactions and workflows. Immense opportunities exist to boost productivity, simplify processes, automate activities, and integrate data and workflows across siloed systems. Drive value by identifying net-new capabilities that were previously impossible to attain. Mobile is no longer a tack-on. Every major initiative must be evaluated with mobile in mind.
The goal is to remove steps, reduce time, and increase accuracy and repeatability through mobile while enabling customers and employees to work whenever and wherever they need to.
Though the banking industry is historically conservative, customer expectations around digital solutions should drive it to be less so. Think about what your organization can do to better align with what customers and employees require today and in the future.
Not all mobile ideas are created equal, and no company has unlimited resources to design, develop and support mobile applications. The apps you develop must support company goals. Evaluate each new idea to determine how well it aligns with established Business Drivers, and to prioritize the order in which ideas are pulled forward into the planning process and eventually production.
For each given role, think about how technology can improve conversations with clients and prospective clients. How might you better educate clients in face to face meetings and build trust? How can you better understand the needs of our clients and dynamically turn that data into strategies to meet financial objectives?
Day-in-the-Life is an observational technique that involves shadowing target users as they perform daily tasks to identify unofficial requirements and workarounds. The DiTL asks what problems they have, observes employee and end-user behavior, and notes where it deviates from standard operating procedures. Look for any hacks users developed out of necessity to make their jobs more efficient—and integrate these into the go-forward design.
Prior to development, leverage rapid prototyping to test your assumptions and illicit feedback on initial designs. This saves time and resources and, more importantly, lets you deliver products you know will be well-adopted and strike the right balance around change management.
It’s a common misconception that apps are ‘build-once-and-done’ projects. Unlike typical enterprise systems, the mobile ecosystem is constantly evolving. New full OS versions are released annually, bringing new APIs and deprecating others, while security and bug patches are delivered throughout the year. New devices introduce new capabilities or screen sizes along with new defects and performance improvements to address. Ensuring apps keep current requires monitoring analytics, managing the backlog, and implementing regular updates.
You handle sensitive client and company data every day. Going digital/mobile doesn’t make that data any less secure, so long as you’re diligent in your approach and architect for security from the beginning. Just because we’re used to faxes, photocopies and manual input doesn’t mean they’re more secure (they’re likely less secure and traceable) than digital solutions. Competitors have implemented online trading, payments, deposits and more. This is a solved problem in the industry.
You may think your number one priority is enabling clients to reach their financial goals. But you can’t help clients reach their goals if they aren’t compelled to stay with your organization. So, in reality, customer retention is your number one priority—achieved only by providing the best brand experience possible.
To do so, financial services firms must make significant investment in the technology they provide customers and employees. Some are even making dramatic changes to their investor centers, eschewing desk-bound advisors for conversational, lounge-style environments. Capital One has taken this to an extreme with their Capital One Cafés. Instead of meeting clients at a Starbucks, they have brought the barista experience to the client.
Overall, financial investment and wealth management firms can transform the traditionally relationship-driven industry to retain customers and win new business with these engagement strategies:
1. Retire legacy paper processes in favor of secure, efficient digital approaches. Minimize onboarding friction to retain customers and encourage loyalty by enabling a white-glove experience at every stage.
2. Enable full, 360° customer visibility via event-driven architecture. Drive greater customer satisfaction by empowering your support team to help customers faster and more efficiently.
3. Incorporate analytics-driven portfolio management to align risk profiles with investment strategies and provide real-time account insights for investors.
4. Provide real-time data insights to identify micro-trends and enable customer mastery of complex, backend wealth-management processes.
To keep up with the ongoing evolution of technology and remain relevant and competitive while earning the market’s trust, retail banks must accommodate consumer demand for modern user experiences. Engagement through digital channels requires stable, high-quality design and functionality to keep the user experience fulfilling.
Such a goal can only be accomplished via a comprehensive roadmap and a solid customer-engagement strategy. Today’s customers want more choice, better design, and a seamless relationship with their financial data, yet very few organizations have in-house IT teams capable of reaching this objective. An effective digital solution is available, however, to leverage the latest technologies, drive loyalty and satisfaction, and achieve success in the market.
It’s time to revisit your customer-loyalty investments to enable users to get the most out of every interaction with your brand. Anexinet has vast experience and decades of proven success developing digital solutions for leading banks. Our digital strategy methodology is trusted by some of the biggest names in banking, including Wells Fargo, Customers Bank, Bank of Montreal, and many more.
Further, we routinely help banks and credit unions determine their strategic direction while ensuring regulatory compliance, and outfit such organizations with application prototypes, Digital Centers of Excellence (DCOE), digital readiness assessments, as well as provide Day in the Life, application refreshes, digital testing services, and more.
When you’re ready to implement the strategies featured in this guide, let’s talk. Anexinet’s new Digital Solution for Financial Services Kickstart is the perfect way to take your digital customer experience to the next level with better design, a consumer-centric strategy, and value-driven applications. Ensure your organization is delivering an amazing, connected ecosystem of multi-channel services and digital experiences—all in just three weeks.
Check out our Financial Services Digital Solution Strategy Kickstart now.