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Is ‘courage’ the new buzzword?

iStock 1040309012 - Global Banking | Finance

Is ‘courage’ the new buzzword?

Helena Muller Diebold - Global Banking | FinanceHelena Müller, VP Banking Europe, Diebold Nixdorf

In today’s complex economy, financial institutions are under huge pressure to fulfil many roles while continuing to be consumer service ambassadors. From regulation and end-user expectations to sustainability agendas and delivering new technologies – the ability to deliver in so many areas simultaneously is a significant challenge for most providers in the industry.

Gone are the days of traditional priorities, and today’s progressive landscape requires a fresh outlook and way of working. Could courage be the pivotal word to help the industry effectively navigate this shift?

Leading from the front 

Embracing courage as a leadership trait is the first step to moving the industry forward. It could be argued that courageous change is only possible in a permissive climate, and factors such as complex regulation and industry governance could inhibit the scope for progress. However, courage can take the form of evolution rather than reinvention. As long as strategies are clear, backed by data and empowered across the organisation, significant developments can be achieved.

Confronting changes and taking proactive approaches in an ever-fluctuating market can ensure that organisations are optimising market changes where possible. As opposed to being laggards and reactively responding to industry and economic variations, a forward-first approach can drive more valuable and effective outcomes for all.

The courage to think outside of the box

Stepping ahead with a gallant approach can also offer the opportunity to become a differentiator in the market. With a shift towards greater market stabilisation, the financial services climate is now conducive to igniting product and service innovation. Taking the courage to question the norm and challenging the mindset of ‘this is how we operate’ can create new consumer angles and fresh thinking.

Strategising growth opportunities in this way creates the platform for high-performing banks to step ahead. Although the playing field between incumbent banks and digital newcomers is levelling, competition is still intense. A global survey showed that 59% of people recently acquired a financial services product from a provider other than their main bank, highlighting the market share opportunities.

The industry has access to more innovation than ever before, and technology is creating the foundation for new services to be delivered. Advancements in areas such as AI have a host of applications to create new consumer services, for example, analysing customer intent to help build increasingly tailored offerings. Therefore, the opportunities for product and service progression are ripe for the taking but require a bold mindset and a true re-evaluation of the organisation to foster a culture of change and courage.

Championing consumer trust

The successful adoption of new services in the market does, however, require a solid foundation of consumer trust. We need to shift away from transactional relationships to something more meaningful. Digital solutions have no doubt added convenience and choice to our daily lives but have also pushed us towards more ‘faceless’ banking. Creating more meaningful interactions with customers is the way forward and requires the industry to champion consumer trust.

This involves better understanding customers and offering tailored advice and more personal interfaces. Research shows that 63% of consumers like seeing branches where they live and 67% turn to the branch to solve specific and complicated problems, highlighting the need to maintain a physical presence and connection with end users.

Breaking free of traditional best practices, financial service providers must realign the delivery of services, fostering collaboration rather than simple transactional banking. By applying the wealth of data banks hold on their customers and embracing technology, the aspiration must be to support consumers to achieve their monetary goals and take a more active and interconnected role within their lives.

Short-term view versus long-term gain

We have all seen how organisational change is already abundant within the industry, but are these changes significant enough to truly capitalise on the longer-term opportunities within – and outside of – the industry? Very often driven by the need for more immediate, short-term gains some decisions may not be conducive to building the road to a stronger future. Creating the ambition to leverage bigger market trends and truly committing to wider priorities, such as environmental, social and governance (ESG) agendas, requires the leadership and vision to create a forward-thinking culture.

Recent years have made this somewhat difficult as many resources have been focused on managing sizeable social, political, and economic changes. However, change will continue to be a constant and operating in a siloed or restrictive manner is unlikely to unlock new potential for growth or drive any competitive edge.

What is clear is that we need more flexibility for the future. Resilience will continue to be a strategic focus, and this requires an adaptive consumer offering and the determination to think and act differently. Organisations that wish to excel above their competition need to embrace a culture of calculated change and the spirit to be adaptive in a fluid market. The ability to withstand an unpredictable industry and economy requires new ways of thinking, and courage is at the heart of this visionary outlook for the future.

Global Banking & Finance Review


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