Financial Services: Succeeding in 2021 (and beyond)

The financial services sector is a core element of every developed economy. Every institution you can think of is dependent on financial services, from corporations to governments. It’s at the heart of how we plan our own futures, from the growth of our businesses to how we best enjoy the rewards of our hard work, right now and in retirement.

The vital nature of financial services is one reason we are optimistic about growth in 2021 and beyond. The second reason is technology. While many CEOs see tech as a complicating factor, or perhaps a necessary evil, the wisest leaders are using it to drive growth and simplify their customers’ lives.

Of course, we can’t downplay the enormity of current challenges. In a few short weeks, the pandemic changed nearly everything about doing business, from where and how we work to supply chains and global markets. As individuals, we’ve gone from office workers to telecommuters quite literally overnight, with all the joys and stresses that implies. Globally, of course, markets are volatile, supply chains have been interrupted, and the very order is realigning.

These challenges are shared by mid-market firms and the biggest international banks. But in the mid-market, obviously, resources are scarcer. They don’t enjoy the same deep pockets or economies of scale. Nor can they afford to invest the same in expertise. Fidelity Investments reportedly spends $2.5B per year on technology and employs some 12,000 “technologists.”

Such numbers may seem daunting to mid-market CEOs. And while we understand their apprehension, we see a way forward. The fact is that many longstanding challenges in the financial services sector have an upside—and they are often easier to address in mid-market companies.

Integration. Financial service businesses are often hampered by unnecessary complexity, such as multiple systems that can’t talk to each other, requiring tedious and demoralizing labor from staff. The mid-market companies that streamline their systems and processes—improve integration with outsourcers, increase the accuracy and availability of information, and automate decisioning—will gain a clear advantage over competitors.

Compliance. There is nothing new about legal requirements. Although they have become more complicated, that just means even more opportunities for companies who do compliance well, and for companies offering compliance consulting and services.

Digital channels. COVID has only accelerated what was already happening, from contactless payments to securing a business loan online. Many scoffed at the idea of selling pension plans or insurance policies via Zoom; now it seems perfectly sensible to vendors and clients. Ten years of behavioral change have been compressed into ten weeks!

Disruption. Retail banks with long and proud histories may be swept aside by new entrants like Ally and Chime. If and when Amazon, Google and Apple get into financial services, the old corporate giants may topple. However, we still see room for nimbler mid-market companies that can compete on price or combine a range of services with a personal touch.


In the meantime, see our Cyber Security and Compliance Knowledge Center


The ultimate question for mid-market financial services businesses is quite simple: Given all the uncertainty, how do we maximize the opportunities?

In the coming weeks, we’ll be addressing this question with a series especially written for the CEOs of mid-market financial services companies. The topics include:

  • Security and Compliance
  • Back Office Streamlining
  • Disruption and New Digital Customer Experience
  • Video and Audio Discussion on Financial Services

The series will help you identify the threats and opportunities in the coming year, and how to get started on minimizing the former and maximizing the latter. Above all, we aim to demonstrate that while there are serious challenges in the mid-market space, with the right technological strategies, they are more than manageable, and that there is room for mid-market players to grow in 2021 and beyond.


Coming next: Security and compliance.


 

To find out more about how we could add value to your business, Contact Us and we’ll be in touch for an informal conversation.

Freeman Clarke is the largest and most experienced team of part-time (we call it “fractional”) CIOs and CTOs. We work exclusively with ambitious organizations and we frequently help our clients to use technology to beat their competition.