Financial Institutions: Staying the Course Amid Big Tech Disruption

Apple’s recent release of the Apple Card follows a familiar trend: tech and major tech organizations playing a disruptive role in financial services. For bank and credit union executives, these types of changes can feel like an existential crisis. However, while things are changing faster than ever before, financial services decision makers need to see this transition as an opportunity to position themselves for the future.

Innovation Officers

The reality of an ever-changing landscape is that someone will have to take the lead on change and guide their respective financial institutions from discovery to full implementation of major organizational changes. Individuals like CEOs and COOs likely already have their hands full with the day to day responsibilities of the organization, and may not have the capacity to navigate such changes.

Hiring a Chief Innovation Officer, an Innovation Director, or someone of this nature can help organizations stay ahead of trends and prioritize their initiatives based on pertinence and ROI. Chief responsibilities of this person can include:

– Exploration Attending trade events, maintaining a pulse on banking news and understanding the competitive landscape

  • Financial and Resource vetting Understanding which initiatives may be feasible for an organization based on workforce and financial resources
  • Vendor Solicitation Seeking out assistance from potential partners, consultants and any third party resources to bring new innovation to life
  • Transitionary planning and staff direction Overseeing the implementation of new initiatives and shaping the overall plan for change

Change Management and Agile Structures

With anticipated change, financial institutions should have a foolproof change management structure in place. Understanding how new initiatives will be communicated, who will be responsible for follow through and how behaviors can be reinforced are key to success. Before any meaningful change can truly happen, addressing this general structure will help to guide implementation when rubber hits the road and a prospective innovation becomes a plan ready to be acted upon. Executives teams can start early by establishing a hierarchy for implementation within their institution and a general framework for notifying, teaching, improving and reinforcing new behaviors.

Staying Calm Amid Disruption

In an environment of unprecedented change, executives may feel tempted to act in reactionary ways. Taking on a multitude of initiatives, seeking out an edge in innovation and still trying to maintain high quality in day to day operations may seem like the only solution to keep pace. However, overextending your team will lead to fatigue, lack of focus and an end product of half-baked services and offerings.

Instead, financial institutions should focus on iterated, calculated change based on areas of their business that have the most potential to improve the customer experience. Creating a clear mapping of various customer journeys and nailing the omni-channel experience should be first priorities. As disruptive technologies continue to evolve, financial institutions will need to stay aware of the industry’s direction, but don’t necessarily need to be the players pioneering the way, as long as they’re able to act once opportunities with a clear ROI are established.

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