By Clint Oram, co-founder and CMO, SugarCRM
It may seem obvious, but our lives continue to shift, evolve and change increasingly quickly. Today, technology’s pace of change – along with the often erratic nature of the global economy and politics – means even last year may seem like a generation ago.
Our lives have been changed beyond recognition thanks to the seemingly unlimited acceleration of IT. Everything from our behaviour, beliefs and expectations have been impacted. You only need to look at the plethora of instant services consumers now use for entertainment, travel, dining, transport and even banking to see exactly how technology has changed our assumptions of speed, value, relevance and experience. We no longer buy things, we join things and, whether it’s Netflix, Spotify or Zipcar, we use them when we need to. The subscription economy makes it easier to maintain a healthy work life balance – freeing up time that may previously have been spent rushing around, perhaps shopping or organising travel, and means when we’re home from work we can truly relax. Everything is readily available, wherever and whenever we want it.
Blurring the lines between professional and personal lives
The commute to and from the office used to separate your professional world from your private life. This is no longer the case. You can now do both around the clock, regardless of your location, especially in the world of investment banking and wealth management. While it’s great that you can access work and contact clients from wherever you are, it’s also important to remember to keep a balance between your professional and private life. Remember to take advantage of the added personal time new technologies can offer you. Your life can be lived as you want it or, to coin a phrase, increasingly you can “work like you live”. It’s no wonder then, that 60 per cent of city staff now have the option of working remotely, according to Astbury Marsden.
But how many times have you sat staring at unresponsive documents, or become frustrated as your VPN constantly fails? This isn’t comparable to the instant experiences we expect in our personal lives, which brands like Netflix and Amazon Prime are delivering. It also differs vastly from the seamless experience banking customers now expect, so why should you put up with sub-standard technologies?
Now we’ve experienced the truly instant experience there’s no turning back. Our experiences of technology outside of the banking world means we’ve shifted our ideals of pace and experience. Leaps in technologies like mobile, big data, machine learning, virtual reality, quantum computing and many more are powering all these trends.
Time for bankers to work like they live
However, while technology in today’s world is having an amazing impact on consumer and personal experiences, the work environment is still lagging behind. You only need to look around at the proliferation of desktop PCs in your office to see how different it is to the smartphone world we live in outside of the working environment. The instant culture of our personal lives is often absent when we’re in the office; we’re asked to forget our thumb-driven world and regress several years. Enterprise software is often bloated, clumsy and sometimes decades behind the rest of our digital life.
I believe people should be working like they live and the new generation of relationship intelligence solutions are beginning to make this a reality. This is particularly important for customer-facing financial professionals, as success almost entirely depends on the customer experience. (Gartner research found 89 per cent of marketers now expect to compete solely on this).
In the near future, technology such as Customer Relationship Management (CRM) will provide background on the customer or prospect with little input. For example, their title, where they work, their education, family information and even personal hobbies and interests. By automating the aggregation of large and diverse data sets while using deep learning techniques, businesses can understand their customers at a deeply personal level. The below video focuses on the future to envision just what this could look like.
[Embed video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZkXCEUA0as0]
The future of banking
We’re not quite there yet, and predicting the future is always fraught with surprises. Perhaps the best way to summarise is to reuse a quote from Abraham Lincoln, “The best way to predict the future is to invent it”. So, if you and your fellow bankers spend large quantities of time waiting for the future to arrive you’ll soon find it’s passed you by. It’s time our experience of technology became universal, running seamlessly wherever we are, whether we’re working or playing.
European shares end higher on strong earnings, positive data
By Sagarika Jaisinghani and Ambar Warrick
(Reuters) – Euro zone shares rose on Friday, marking a third week of gains, as data showed factory activity in February jumped to a three-year high, while upbeat quarterly earnings boosted confidence in a broader economic recovery.
The euro zone index was up 0.9%, with strong earnings from companies such as Acciona and Hermes brewing some optimism over an eventual economic recovery.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.5%, as regional factory activity was seen reaching a three-year high on strong demand for manufactured goods at home and overseas.
Another reading showed the euro zone’s current account surplus widened in December on a rise in trade surplus and a narrower deficit in secondary income.
Still, the STOXX 600 marked small gains for the week, having dropped for the past three sessions as investor concern grew over rising inflation and a rocky COVID-19 vaccine rollout.
But basic resources stocks outpaced their peers this week with a 7% jump, as improving industrial activity across the globe drove up commodity prices.
“This week’s slightly adverse price action has all the hallmarks of a loss of momentum temporarily and not a structural turn,” said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at OANDA.
“There is not a major central bank in the world thinking about taking their foot off the monetary spigot, except perhaps China. (Markets) will remain awash in zero percent central bank money through all of 2021 (and) a lot of that will head to the equity market.”
Minutes of the European Central Bank’s January meeting, released on Thursday, showed policymakers expressed fresh concerns over the euro’s strength but appeared relaxed over the recent rise in government bond yields.
The bank’s relaxed stance was justified by the euro zone economy requiring continued monetary and fiscal support, as evidenced by a contraction in the bloc’s dominant services industry in February.
The STOXX 600 has rebounded more than 50% since crashing to multi-year lows in March 2020, with hopes of a global economic rebound this year sparking demand for sectors such as energy, mining, banks and industrial goods.
London’s FTSE 100 lagged regional bourses on Friday due to a slump in January retail sales and as the pound jumped to its highest against the dollar in nearly three years. [.L] [GBP/]
French carmaker Renault tumbled more than 4% after posting a record annual loss of 8 billion euros ($9.68 billion), while food group Danone and German insurer Allianz rose following upbeat trading forecasts.
(Reporting by Sagarika Jaisinghani in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Shailesh Kuber)
ECB plans closer scrutiny of bank boards
FRANKFURT (Reuters) – The European Central Bank plans to increase scrutiny of bank board directors and will take look more closely at diversity within management bodies, ECB supervisor Edouard Fernandez-Bollo said on Friday.
The ECB already examines the suitability of board candidates in a so-called fit and proper assessment, but rules across the 19 euro zone members vary, so the quality of these checks can be inconsistent.
The ECB plans to ask banks to undertake a suitability assessment before making appointments, and they will put greater emphasis on the candidates’ previous positions and the bank’s specific needs, Fernandez-Bollo said in a speech.
The supervisor also plans more detailed rules on how it will reassess board members once new information emerges, particularly in case of breaches related to anti-money laundering and financing of terrorism, Fernandez-Bollo added.
Fernandez-Bollo did not talk about enforcing diversity quotas, but he argued that diversity, including diversity in gender, backgrounds and experiences, improves efficiency and was thus crucial.
“Supervisors will consider furthermore all of the diversity-related aspects that are most relevant to enhancing the individual and collective leadership of boards,” he said.
“Diversity within a management body is therefore crucial … there is a lot of room for improvement in this area in European banks,” he said.
(Reporting by Balazs Koranyi, editing by Larry King)
Where are we with Open Banking, and should we be going further?
By Mitchel Lenson, Non-Executive Chairman, Exizent
Open Banking has the power to revolutionise the way we manage our money, but most (65%) consumers are still not aware of it, while many financial institutions continue to treat it as an obligation rather than an opportunity.
For Open Banking to truly reach its potential, consumers need to have more trust in its benefits. However, this will only happen if banks and other financial institutions start to embrace it, rather than simply accept it.
Covid-19 has proven to banks that digital banking and open finance innovation is not simply a ‘nice to have’. It is vital for their own survival. With so many challenger banks now coming into the market, many of whom have entirely digital models and therefore invest heavily in technology, banks are starting to become aware that if they don’t embrace it, they’ll get left behind.
So, fuelled by a mixture of competition and Covid-19, banks are starting to realise that Open Banking is not about giving away valuable data, but it is about collaborating with third party fintechs to explore the endless opportunities data sharing can bring – to all sides.
By making open finance easier for developers, banks can not only save time and money by improving their own services but help create useful solutions that add real value for their customers.
Open Banking for all?
There is one, yet untapped area of consumer finance that could be immeasurably improved by Open Banking, and that is estate administration.
Recent research from Which? found that many executors contend with delays, errors and poor knowledge from their banks during the probate process. Our own research shows that most legal professionals admit the process does not work as it should, and the time it takes to complete probate is unacceptable.
Like the Which? survey, we found that the main issue is the administration involved, with most legal professionals saying that the time it takes for financial institutions to get back to them with the information they need is the main cause of delays.
Given that the system is not working for consumers, something clearly needs to be done. The good news is that the technology and data is already available – we just need to harness it to create a better system.
That is why we are developing the first ever platform to connect executors, legal professionals, and financial institutions to create a better, quicker, and more secure probate experience for everyone.
Our first release of the platform – a bespoke cloud-based solution to enable legal services firms to integrate directly with financial institutions making information gathering and processing more straightforward – was released in 2020. We are now building on that foundation to accelerate our development work with financial institutions to deliver additional value for all sides.
We also see huge potential in working with banks to utilise the digital financial infrastructure, powered by Open Banking, to improve things even further. But there is one, fairly sizeable issue – currently, Open Banking consent ceases at the point of death.
Is it time for legislative change?
Open Banking is not as open as is should be for those who can give consent, so we are certainly some way off from Open Banking for the deceased. However, the more that banks acknowledge Open Banking and its potential and are prepared to collaborate with third party fintechs to develop better experiences for consumers, the more likely we are to get to a point where we can tap into that potential to improve things for the bereaved.
Many of the problems – highlighted by Which? – that consumers face when managing someone’s estate could be reduced significantly if open finance continued to apply to the deceased.
Open Banking provides a huge opportunity to speed-up and reduce friction for loved ones faced at some of the hardest moments of their lives, and there is a strong argument here for the current position to be reviewed to enable better access to a deceased person’s assets.
With our current platform, we are showing how technology is playing an incredibly significant role in dealing with the complex, tangled process that is probate and the potential of open finance in radically enhancing what we are already doing cannot be understated.
FTSE 100 ends higher on improving economic activity; gains for the third week
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