How to adapt to the digital age: 5 tips for regulated firms

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There’s no doubt that the financial services world is changing.

New back-office technologies. New ways for consumers to access financial services. New ways to communicate with clients and prospects. For a sector not traditionally at the cutting-edge, the boom in financial technology – ‘fintech’ – has come as a bit of shock in some of its more staid quarters.

At an event in London last month, finance and technology experts came together to discuss the ways firms can adapt to the rapidly changing landscape. The ‘A new age of digital finance’ conference saw speakers from TSB, Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclays & Allianz Global Investors talk about how they are tackling digital opportunities and threats.  

How is digital changing banking and financial services relationships?

Firstly, it’s changing the way consumers want to interact with their banks and providers. Millennials – and increasingly, all of us – want fast responses and instant access to information.

A generation brought up with Amazon Prime for their shopping and on demand box sets for their entertainment wants immediate, seamless relationships with their banks, insurers and other firms.

They want access on the move – a ‘wherever, whenever’ approach to finance.

But digital transformation has been slow to take off in the sector.

There are a variety of reasons for this – many banks have cumbersome legacy systems, which don’t adapt easily to new delivery channels. There has been a lack of digital expertise in many established firms – something that agile fintech start-ups have been quick to exploit.

And of course, there is the tight regulation that can slow down innovation and prevent new approaches.

Opening the doors to digital transformation in financial services

But with the FCA vocal about its keenness to encourage innovation, it’s time banks stepped up to the challenge of digital transformation. Here we look at five ways you can adapt to the digital age.

1.  Make your communications seamless

     Bringing your client or customer data together gives you a complete picture of your contacts that helps you to tailor and segment your financial promotions.

     Identify what your contacts are interested in and you can give them more of what they want. Systems that track your email clicks and website traffic help you         build a profile that you can target with relevant, timely content. Read more here about how to maximise engagement with your content marketing.

2.  Get the most from your CRM system

     One of digital’s real benefit s for Marketing teams is the fantastic reporting it provides.

     No longer do you have to stick an ad in a magazine and hope for the best.

     Online tracking means you know how many people have opened your emails, clicked on your webpages or interacted with your banners.

     In many cases, you’ll know exactly who they are too.

     This hasn’t passed your Board and leadership teams by, though – so chances are, you’re asked a lot more these days about how your activity is performing.     
     You have data at your fingertips – and need to be able to report on it.

     Make sure your CRM and systems can give you what you need. And make sure your team has the training required to really interrogate the data they receive.   
     Refine your approach using the nuggets of information you find, and you will dramatically improve ROI. 

3.  Make your content your own

     Digital may be the way forward, but in many cases, marketers in the sector continue to use digital channels in the same way they’d have used print media in   
     the past.

     In other words, paying for content placement. Now this is fine, and has its merits – but you need to make sure you’re getting your side of the bargain.

     Online publications, industry websites and professional social networking sites will get a wealth of data on any content they post. Make sure you are seeing
     and using this.

     Alternatively – keep your content for yourselves. Post it on your own website, Twitter and Linkedin and all of this data is yours. Whichever approach you take   
     (and a combination of the two probably gives you the widest reach) – get the data you’re entitled to and use it to refine your activity.

4.  Identify what your customers want

     Sounds like a no-brainer. But how often do firms deliver new approaches without really finding out if they’re what their customer is looking for?

     Put your clients at the heart of your digital transformation and you can’t go far wrong. The FCA is big on ‘suitability’ – making products and the way they’re     
     communicated relevant to the people they’re aimed at.

     Do your research – make sure what you’re planning has real value for your market. The FCA’s regulatory sandbox gives firms the chance to trial and test new   
     approaches in a ‘regulation-lite’ environment. Do the testing needed to ensure you’re chasing a winner when it comes to new tech.

5.  Move with the times when it comes to your audience

     In catering for millennials, firms face their toughest digital critics. They expect to be able to access anything they want on the move, and are intuitive in their   
     use of online media for everything from socialising to shopping.

     The rise in disruptor financial services firms is evidence that the next generation of consumers is driving definite change in the industry.

     If your firm is more traditional, you need to be alive to the threat these up and coming firms pose – and look at ways you can emulate them. A report from law 
     firm Mayer Brown this week showed that there is increasing appetite among incumbent firms for collaboration with fintech start-ups. This may be a route to   
     success for some.

 

There’s no doubt that the regulated financial services sector needs to embrace digital transformation. Our blog on how to exploit digital transformation in 
banking
has more tips.

And if your regulated firms are just starting its own digital journey, you can get tips on how to create a mobile-compatible website in our guide, 10 ways to   
make your website mobile-friendly
. It has a wealth of advice, as well as looking at why your Google ranking – as well as your reputation among your digital-
savvy customers – is at stake.

You can download a free copy of the guide here.

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