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Four ways financial organisations are evolving to become more customer-centric



Four ways financial organisations are evolving to become more customer-centric

By  Michael Plimsoll, Financial Services Marketing Director, Adobe.

If there is one sector where digital disruption is consistently in the spotlight, it’s financial services.

From challenger banks like Monzo and N24, fintech start-ups, and spin-offs from established players, the industry is experiencing a wave of innovation that is completely reshaping the way companies and customers interact.

The biggest change this wave of innovation has brought is an entirely customer-centric approach – something that has not always been easy to achieve on a large scale.But, thanks to technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and analytics, financial services brands are finally able to create customer experiences personalised to the audience of one.

Taking this customer-centric approach is critical for any financial services brand that wants to remain relevant today. As Craig Corte, CDO of Barclays Africa says, “Banks have never taken enough time to really think about whether they are solving customer problems… As we move into much more competitive arenas, where competitors are less likely to be other banks, this realisation that we are fundamentally now working for customers, ironically, is starting to land.”

In fact, it’s an approach that Switzerland’s Raiffeisen has successfully taken on. By using customer analytics to optimise its web experience and deliver more targeted messaging, the brand has seen a 300% rise in conversions.

But how can financial services brands adopt a customer-centric mindset of their own? Here are the four biggest trends that marketers in the financial services sector need to know about:

Trend 1: Banking hard on an improved customer journey

More than 35% of financial services institutions are working hard to improve their customer experience, seeing this as a primary differentiator in the year ahead. In particular, they are exploring ways to make their owned properties easier to use, more fun, and more valuable.

Barclays, for one, has set itself the ambitious goal of becoming the best digital bank in South Africa by 2020. The industry stalwart has reimagined its entire digital experiences, adapting its mobile app, owned channels, and website to the habits of digital customers.

Trend 2: Inspiring customers with more engaging content

Great content is essential for any brand looking to deliver customer experiences that are both engaging and consistent. From email and social promotion to web copy and display advertising, digital content needs to be more than just functional. It needs to grab people’s attention and inspire them to act.

Other industries have been quick to realise this, using ambitious content programmes to grow a strong community of fans, financial services organisations are still behind in this regard. Without the right content that enables engagement with customers at each stage of their journey, companies risk missing opportunities to build relationships as they move from touchpoint to touchpoint. It is with this rationale in mind that companies such as Loyalis have digitised their online journey to deliver more personalised experiences to each customer they serve.

Trend 3: Mastering data-driven marketing and exploring AI

It’s no secret that customer data is the key to delivering more impactful customer experiences. Nearly 40% of financial institutions say better targeting and personalisation rank among their top three priorities this year. However, many are still migrating from manual data collection to a modern, digital approach.  One business leading the way is BNP Paribas Wealth Management, which uses deep analytics to understand which of its digital channels are most successful and inform the way it shares thousands of pieces of content across each of these.

Building on their investment in analytics, financial services institutions are also leading the way in their use of AI. More than 60% are using AI already, or plan to do so in the next 12 months. At the volume and scale that banks collect and analyse data, AI will play a growing role in helping them to crunch this information quickly and extract the insights they need.

Trend 4: Investing in technology to support modern customer experiences

As is often the case with major transition periods in the financial sector, legacy technologies are still holding many businesses back from achieving their ambitions. The gap between top performers and slow movers continues to widen, and tellingly the former are three times more likely to have invested in an integrated technology system. Wealth and asset management firms are particularly sensitive to this challenge, with 61% admitting that new technologies are “difficult to master”.

Together, these trends reflect a commitment across the financial sector to become more customer-centric. There is more work to be done, especially in an industry where most companies need to untangle a complex web of legacy processes and contend with work practices that have endured for decades as part of their transformation, but with the right mix of people, skills and technology the progress we have seen so far will only accelerate.


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EU sets itself jobs, training and equality targets for 2030



EU sets itself jobs, training and equality targets for 2030 1

By Jan Strupczewski

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Commission on Thursday announced goals for the 27-nation bloc to reduce poverty, inequality and boost training and jobs by 2030 as part of a post-pandemic economic overhaul financed by jointly borrowed funds.

The EU executive arm said the European Union should boost employment to 78% in 2030 from 73% in 2019, halve the gap between the number of employed women and men and cut the number of young people neither working nor studying to 9% from 12.6%

“With unemployment and inequalities expected to increase as a fallout of the pandemic, focusing our policy efforts on quality job creation, up- and reskilling and reducing poverty and exclusion is therefore essential to channel our resources where they are most needed,” the commission said.

The goals, which will have to be endorsed by EU leaders, also include an increase in the number of adults getting training every year to adapt to the EU’s transition to a greener and more digitalised economy to 60% from 40% now.

Finally, over the next 10 years, the EU should reduce the number of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion by 15 million from 91 million in 2019.

“These three 2030 headline targets are deemed ambitious and realistic at the same time,” the commission said.

The goals are part of the EU’s set of 20 social rights, agreed on in 2017, to make the EU more appealing to voters and counter eurosceptic sentiment across the bloc.

They say everybody has the right to quality education throughout their lives and that men and women must have equal opportunities in all areas and be paid the same for work of equal value.

The unemployed have the right to “personalised, continuous and consistent support”, while workers have the right “to fair wages that provide for a decent standard of living”.

(Reporting by Jan Strupczewski; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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UK aero-engineer Meggitt eyes return to growth after pandemic slump



UK aero-engineer Meggitt eyes return to growth after pandemic slump 2

LONDON (Reuters) – British engineer Meggitt said that it could return to profit growth in 2021 provided there are no further lockdowns, despite a weakening in the struggling aviation market at the end of 2020 and early this year.

Pandemic restrictions halted much flying globally last year and forced plane makers Boeing and Airbus to cut production rates, dragging down suppliers like Meggitt, which makes and services parts for such aircraft.

Meggitt’s underlying operating profit plunged by 53% to 191 million pounds ($267 million) in 2020, it said on Thursday, despite continued growth in its defence business which makes parts for military jets and accounts for about 45% of the business.

Meggitt, however, said it expected air traffic to recover in the second half of the year which would help it return to profit growth over the year, although its guidance for flat revenue disappointed analysts who had expected growth of 6%.

Meggitt’s Chief Executive Tony Wood said in November that he had expected flying to start to recover by Easter, but new variants have led to more restrictions and delayed the recovery.

“It has gone back a couple of months… it’s now very much in the summer,” Wood said of the recovery in an interview on Thursday.

Further in the future, Meggitt is positioning itself for the move to lower emissions flying, and its sensors and electric motors will be used on electric urban air mobility platforms, such as flying taxis, and in hybrid aeroplanes being developed.

But Meggitt said new tax breaks announced in Britain’s annual budget on Wednesday aimed at encouraging investment would not change its plans.

“Yes, it will be a benefit. Are we looking at any acceleration as a result specifically of that? Not really,” Woods said.

Shares in Meggitt were down 1% to 427 pence at 0943 GMT. The stock has risen by 50% since news of a COVID-19 vaccine last November, but is still down 23% on where it was pre-pandemic.

($1 = 0.7165 pounds)

(Reporting by Sarah Young; Editing by Alistair Smout and Susan Fenton)

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UK’s Sunak will struggle with plan for tax hikes and spending cuts – IFS



UK's Sunak will struggle with plan for tax hikes and spending cuts - IFS 3

LONDON (Reuters) – British finance minister Rishi Sunak will probably have to offer concessions to businesses if he wants to be able to implement a big hike in corporation tax that is at the centre of his new budget plan, a leading think tank said on Thursday.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies also said it was very unlikely that Sunak would be able to deliver the 17 billion pounds annual spending cuts included in his plan.

IFS director Paul Johnson said if the plan was implemented as announced on Wednesday, Sunak would meet one definition of a balanced budget – borrowing only to invest – by 2025-26.

“The sad truth is that that would be a balance built on the highest sustained tax burden in UK history and yet further cuts in unprotected public service spending,” Johnson said.

“That is perhaps one measure of the difficulties presented by more than a decade of paltry growth followed by the deepest recession in history.”

(Writing by William Schomberg, editing by David Milliken)

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