By Achi Lewis, EMEA Director, NetMotion (www.netmotionsoftware.com)
As the always-connected, always-on smartphone generation continues to enter the workforce, financial services organisations find themselves needing to offer more flexible work environments to stay competitive. Many millennials in the industry have reported frustration and a general dissatisfaction with the devices and applications available to them, remarking that they want more freedom to use mobile devices. Whilst that level of convenience may be appealing to employees, the introduction of mobile devices as tools in the workplace can put financial information at greater risk of theft by cyber criminals.
Despite the risks, the benefits of mobility are too great to ignore. Beyond the human-resources implications, IT leaders in the financial services sector recognise that mobility creates a more flexible work environment, boosts operational efficiency and user productivity, and improves user experience whilst contributing to satisfaction among clients and customers alike.
Financial services IT leaders estimate that 25-30 percent of employees require 24/7 access to corporate IT services through mobile devices. But whilst this industry leads others in digital services, it lags in adopting mobile technologies for its workforce. The reasons for this include:
- regulatory environment – the financial sector is one of the most highly regulated industries. IT leaders face risk management, compliance pressures, and the compromised security of shadow IT.
- Security and data protection – compliance isn’t the only concern. Data breaches are more costly in financial services than any other industry, due to the direct impact of the breach, but also the loss of goodwill and potential customer losses.
- Legacy platforms and applications – only one-third of IT organisations say they have integrated mobile applications with legacy back-office systems. They also blame security concerns for their lack of cloud-based productivity tools.
The Role of a Comprehensive Mobile Network Solution
Financial services organisations need to support multiple branch locations, ATMs and advisors working to visit homes and businesses in the community. A successful mobile initiative caters to the changing needs of its customer base by incorporating a network solution that optimises, secures and delivers visibility across all enterprise and cloud applications and services. The solution has to work seamlessly in tandem with native OS security features, containerisation solutions and the locked-down security enabled through established tools such as the Apple Device Enrollment program to deliver a secure, end-to-end mobile experience. It reaches wherever they need to serve customers, and offers the flexibility to use smartphones, tablets and laptops running Windows, Android, MacOS or iOS.
Mobility for Retail Banks
With mobile banking becoming so popular, the traditional brick-and-mortar bank branch may seem obsolete. Indeed, between 2007-2017 the U.S. lost 10 percent of its physical bank branches. The rate of closures is even higher – approaching 50 percent – in countries such as Sweden, Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands. However, even though branch visits have fallen overall, bank branches still play a vital role — even among millennials. Bank customers still prefer to visit a branch when opening new accounts, dealing with problems and making large transactions. Branches remain crucial for acquiring new customers and upselling and cross-selling to existing ones. Bank executives generally see the role of the branch changing, with employees using their face-to-face contact with customers to educate them on the use of their mobile devices and assist with financial decisions. Some of the leading banks are even stationing digital ambassadors at branches, equipped with smartphones and tablets, to demonstrate services such as remote check deposit. Others are experimenting with replacing tellers in favour of roving employees who use tablets to help customers apply for loans or open accounts. Outside the branch, this mobile capability is seen as key to reaching unbanked or underbanked customers, especially in emerging markets.
Mobility for Investment Management
Millennials are poised to inherit trillions of dollars over the coming years. For financial organisations this poses unique challenges. This generation tends to be averse to sit-down meetings in an office with an investment advisor, partly because they have grown up with easy access to financial information and comparisons just a click or tap away. As a result, financial advisors are adapting by using videoconferencing and other tools that offer convenience whilst maintaining the value of a face-to-face interaction. It’s no surprise, then, that more than half of investment management account holders say that they value the option of having immediate access to a video call with an advisor. Also worth considering is that the average age of a financial advisor is now 50, with 42 percent being over the age of 55. Therefore, in order to attract a new generation of advisors, investment management firms need tools that enable secure mobile working environments, including mobile apps that connect seamlessly to review portfolios, confirm balance transfers, monitor alerts, place trades and follow market movements.
Mobility in Insurance
In the insurance space, agents and claim adjusters have long used mobile devices in the field to process claims. These allow representatives to capture statements about the accident, document geo-location information, take pictures of the scene, license plates, insurance ID cards and driver’s licenses, and contact towing services. In the case of insurance sales, tablets can be used to automate every step of the process, from client discovery to policy submissions. By eliminating the typical back-and-forth between agent and underwriter, companies can reduce the number of meetings and significantly shorten the sales cycle. On the back end of the sales process, agents are able to easily generate quotes, ask underwriting questions, submit applications, and execute e-signatures and payments electronically, enabling them to issue new policies within minutes rather than days.
Given the rapid acceptance of mobile devices in our daily lives, financial organisations find themselves facing big challenges in the years ahead. They need to navigate a host of potential security risks while embracing and enabling their representatives with mobile technologies. If not, there is a real risk of losing employees and customers to more-nimble, mobile-native FinTech startups. Tackling this problem requires a comprehensive mobile-network solution that enables a single, seamless and secure network. By proactively listening to the needs of their employees as well as their customers, financial services organisations will at least have a better understanding of where to start on that journey.