The Agile Financial Institution

In 2018, the modern financial institution has to evolve, grow and innovate more than ever before. Consumers now demand faster, easier and more convenient customer service than ever before, and navigating a constantly changing world can be challenging for financial institutions, whose entire business practice revolves around regulation and security. Consider the following ideas when thinking about how to make your financial institution more agile.

Streamline Processes

The financial services sector faces a unique challenge to meet consumers wants and needs quickly while maintaining professional standards and protecting the security of customers’ information. Customers are used to interacting with other brands that have streamlined their processes to make sign ups, purchases and overall navigation as quick and painless as possible. To keep up with consumer demands, banks need to follow suit. Focusing on making online platforms easy to navigate, accessing customer information to speed up new account openings and making sure digital language is tailored in a way that is easy to understand for the average consumer are all important steps financial institutions should be taking.

Focus on Customer Interactions

According to The Financial Brand, most financial institutions focus too much on the internal benefits of customer experience (such as increased sales), and not enough on the direct customer benefits, such as ease of use. In-branch interactions need to focus on the latter. A major way to create a fluid customer experience is by focusing on training universal bankers. These jack-of-all-trades employees create an atmosphere where customers feel like their finances are being considered holistically, rather than siloed into different departments. Additionally, companies like Capitol One are focusing on unique ways to improve the in-branch experience, like Capitol One Cafes. In many ways, looking at the trends of in-store experiences in other industries can provide a template for where most brick-and-mortal financial institutions can improve their branding.

Develop a FinTech Partnership Strategy

FinTech and banks are continuing to create mutually beneficial partnerships. FinTech startups benefit from the security and regulatory offerings of a financial institution, along with its pre-existing customer base. Financial institutions can gain a lot with the right types of partnerships, especially in terms of customer satisfaction. FinTech startups are coming up with creative ways to serve customers, whether by helping them look at their finances succinctly, invest smarter or get unique benefits from their purchases. Financial institutions need to have a developed strategy for FinTech partnerships, where these partnerships can grow and evolve to better meet customer needs. Additionally, both the financial institution and the FinTech company should collaborate and think of unique ways they can share data and mutually help each other as their partnership evolves.

Begin to Plan for Blockchain

Blockchain technology is an exciting opportunity for financial institutions that will allow for different parties within a financial institution’s practice to interact, exchange and validate various activities in an open, online format that is self-securing. Particularly, it has huge potential for allowing financial institutions to streamline their processes and conduct secure business practices with less direct human oversight, particularly in terms of contracts, payments and customer information. Consequently, blockchain technology may free up staff resources to focus on other aspects of the business. Similarly, as the technology becomes more sophisticated, it can result in speedier, secure interactions with customers’ activities with a financial institution. This emerging technology is still unfamiliar to most, but will have a major impact, particularly on the financial services industry. Executives and directors should make an effort to learn and start planning for the future now.

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