Commentary

How Finance Brands Can Navigate Cultural Change In Year Ahead

Like other industries, financial services is grappling with transformations in consumer behavior and the game-changing mobile habits of younger users. By 2020, 80% of the global population will be on mobile, and 14% of all purchases worldwide will be made there.

But the category is also wrestling with changes particular to the industry, like a loss of trust. A recent survey found only 60% of consumers trust financial services companies.

As a result, many brands in this category are stuck. To solve this quandary, financial services brands need to become better listeners and rebuild trust with consumers. Here’s how:

Resolve the trust gap through technology. While confidence in financial services brands had risen over the past few years, it hit a snag in 2018. In particular, consumers complained about a lack of transparency.

Fortunately, new technologies can be used to bridge the divide. For instance, one company polled users last summer about the use of its mobile app, finding that 40% of the app’s users said they checked their checking account once a week. This increased access engenders transparency and creates stronger bonds with consumers.

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Brands should consider integrations with smart speaker voice services for the same reason, with thoughtful safeguards to ensure customer security and privacy — especially since 75% of households are projected to own these devices by 2020.

The combination of convenience, service and access through these technologies can boost clarity and confidence, while helping consumers see financial services brands as credible allies.

Leverage data to improve the customer experience. There has been a large shift in how consumers perceive brands — they now expect brands to service their needs on a personal basis.

In one recent survey, 67% of respondents said it’s important that brands adjust content based on the consumer’s current context.
This is especially the case in financial services. A Digital Banking Report survey found 95% of financial services marketers believe consumers expect more personalized banking experiences than they’re currently getting.

To be successful, financial services brands need to invest heavily in understanding their audience through first, second and third-party data. They also need to invest in AI and machine learning technology to help make sense of that data and use it to take action. This is why we’re seeing a surge in corporate AI adoption in the sector, with nearly two-thirds of all brands saying they’ve used AI last year.

Take advantage of mobile’s entire toolbox. Mobile has opened the door to an assortment of formats and experiences that will allow brands to leverage data to engage consumers more effectively, most recently with AR and VR. While they both require the development of new technology infrastructure, Gartner expects these formats to become mainstream after 2020. The advent of 5G technology should provide the necessary bandwidth to allow customers to experience AR and VR with lower latency and allow brands to create richer and more innovative campaigns.

There's no easy answer for financial services firms facing disruption this year. Instead, they can take steps that underscore the need to give consumers what they’re looking for: above all, an ally to help them confront the chaos and change they’re experiencing in their own lives.

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