06 Apr 2021

How digital transformation can power the financial services rebound

Like many other professional services, Covid-19 forced the finance sector into a rapid and unexpected revolution.

Despite the sudden need to set up remote working and meet online customer demand, the industry responded effectively and achieved years of digital progress in a matter of weeks.

Recently, senior executives have been making headlines by demanding a return to the office as soon as possible. While there is huge value in bringing people together in offices to collaborate and create communities, we can’t simply go back to how things were before  the crisis struck.  

As we move slowly out of lockdown the importance of digital technologies, accelerated by the pandemic, is only going to grow.

Our study with the Centre for Economic and Business Research (Cebr) shows the professional services sector could achieve a boost worth £16 billion (4.8%) if it continues to invest in digital transformation.

So how can finance leaders grasp this opportunity and set their organisations up to rebound, while recognising that some things are better done in person?

Empowering employees

The mass homeworking we’ve seen during the national lockdowns isn’t the future.

Instead, we’ll see a hybrid model dominate, where employees can work from anywhere they like. This flexibility will affect 46% of all jobs over the next twenty years, according to our study.

This will enhance the employee experience and lead to more efficient processes by abolishing restraints like travel time.

There are also substantial benefits for employers. The financial services sector has to compete ferociously for talent. By investing in technology systems that support remote working, employers have access to the widest pool of talent possible.

In addition, as key players in the market start to offer attractive hybrid models, there will be a second aspect to attracting staff - supporting their wellbeing.

PwC recently told its accountants and consultants that once the pandemic ends they will only expected to be in the office 40-60 percent of the time, with the rest spent working remotely, and a half day on Friday’s during summer.

In order to back up such employment models, it will be imperative that businesses invest in long-term technology and connectivity partners. 

Reaping rewards of innovation

Another key trend highlighted by the Cebr is the digital delivery of services.

The digitisation of internal and customer-facing processes will help financial businesses enhance efficiency and output and improve what and how they sell. This will deliver better products and more effective services.

These changes won’t just benefit individual organisations. They will grow the entire financial services industry, contribute to national output, and boost the economy.

Thinking ambitiously

The Cebr identified machine learning and data analytics as a key contributor to the GDP uplift.

Thinking ambitiously about the use of these technologies can open up exciting possibilities for banks – for example, chatbots accelerating services and improving customer experiences.

It’s also about banks choosing a strong strategic partner. A technology supplier that can advise them on digital change over the long term, so they can benefit from advice on where exactly innovation should occur across their businesses.

They can also provide counsel on countering the risk of cyber-attacks.

70% of UK financial services companies suffered cyber-attacks in 2020,according to research from the Ponemon Institute.

This could have a crushing effect on an organisation’s rebound, undermining its ability to serve customers, interfering with vital systems, and damaging their reputation permanently.

A successful rebound

For the financial sector to rebound from the pandemic as quickly and effectively as possible it should step up investment in digital technologies.

This will be critical to meeting the demands of a flexible workforce and elevating its appeal to leading talent from around the world. It will also ensure the continued delivery of digital services, improve customer experiences and allow for better use of emerging technologies.

In short, the right kind of investment will enable the sector to become stronger, bounce back from the pandemic quicker and, in turn, help the UK economy do so too.

Guest blog by Mike Smith, Managing Director (Direct), Virgin Media Business. Mike Smith has worked at Virgin Media Business for several years, and is responsible for the small-to-medium business segment, and more recently In-Life Operations. Click here, to read more about this author. Follow him on LinkedIn.  

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