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The Year Ahead: Looking Forward To 2021

22 December, 2020

It may be difficult to think ahead during times of uncertainty, but financial institutions should take a moment to consider the way the financial services world is changing, and how they can best serve customers in the following year.

When planning for the year ahead, consider the following trends and possibilities for your organization.

Ramped-Up Platforms and Services

Consumers utilizing digital channels is nothing new, and by now, your organization should have a strong omni-channel platform in place that helps customers navigate easily between branch, digital and app-based interactions with your organization.

However, a new spin the your digital footprint is the way customers can interact with your organization. While digital interactions used to be transactional, we’re seeing a transition to more sophisticated and meaningful exchanges between organization and customer

These include:

Learning. More and more customers are using their financial institutions to learn about new products, offerings, or simply looking to their financial institutions for guidance and help in their budgeting.

Opening Accounts. Customers can take a more autonomous approach to working with your financial institution if you’re able to streamline and enable online processes, such as opening a new account or creating a new tool they can access on their own.

Customizing and Tailoring. Customers are looking for more intimate solutions to their needs, such as highly personalized budgeting tools and tailored retirement calculators. Similarly, your organization should be working to use your customer data to personalize and enhance promotional material and cross-selling within your organization.

Make sure your organization is pushing to expand and improve your digital offerings in ways that deepen your relationships with your customers and provide lasting value.

Creative Financing

Many small businesses have suffered as a result of government-mandated closures and otherwise decreased foot traffic due to Covid-19. As a result, there will be a major impetus on financial services to work with new and existing organizations to finance new endeavors, think creatively about win-win scenarios for both lender and borrower, and contribute more broadly to the economic health of their communities.

Banks and credit unions should begin planning now for ways they can work with local businesses to create positive pathways to economic recovery, as well as weathering what are hopefully the final months of Covid-19’s biggest negative impact on the economy.

Questions Over Covid Aftermath

It would be presumptuous to say that Covid-19 will be officially over and done in 2021, but dissemination of a vaccine is a major step in the right direction a cause for optimism. If not comprehensively, vaccine distribution may open the door for a greater sense of “normalcy” in society, health and economics, at least in the United States.

However, there will likely be long-term residual effects of Covid-19, many of which we can’t predict. The stock market has done well, but it still feels like the verdict is out regarding the long-term effects of Covid-19 negative effects on small business. Regardless of larger, publicly-traded companies, Main Street USA will take time to recover, especially industries heavily reliant on in-person interaction, such as bars and restaurants.

Similarly, the trauma of 2020 will likely change consumer behaviors and attitudes around personal finance, and these attitudes will carry into politics and our culture as a whole. One thing is certain: This year was dramatic, and its impact will be felt after Covid-19 is controlled and diminished.