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Building a future for financial services that is purpose-driven, tech-enabled, and powered by partnerships

The financial services industry is in the midst of a fast-paced digital evolution. While it has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, we are seeing pre-existing trends being solidified by consumer expectations that may have changed for good. A digital user experience that is personalised and immediate is no longer a nice-to-have, and financial services institutions have had to respond to this while navigating the significant challenges posed by the pandemic.

We were delighted to explore this with panelists from across the industry at UK FinTech Week. In this article, the first of a series exploring insights from our four FinTech Week events, we are pleased to share some of the key themes discussed, and consider what they mean for the future of our industry.

Purpose

The pandemic has demonstrated the important role that financial services has to play in society, both in providing customers with the right services when they are most needed, and in supporting the community through wider initiatives such as turning offices into food banks or vaccine centres. Organisations have put the customer first, with an empathetic response that recognises the needs of those they serve. Looking ahead, we expect to see this sense of purpose play a much larger role in the visions and values of the industry.

Tech-enabled human interaction

While the rapid digitisation of services and solutions during the pandemic has been transformative, organisations also needed the right culture and skills to deliver at speed. It was the strength of customer relationships and the real focus on customer service, empowered by technology, that saw customer satisfaction levels go up for a number of our panelists. Looking ahead, it is this marriage of technology – offering choice and flexibility – and people – bringing empathy, expertise and advice – that will be the next stage in the evolution of financial services.

Tech for good

The pandemic accelerated existing trends in digitisation, but it has also forced the industry to recognise that these trends were not happening consistently across society. Many of the people most impacted by the shift online were those that exhibit vulnerable characteristics, and being able to support these vulnerable customers into the digital future will be critical. At the same time, increased access to data raises questions around the industry’s role in proactively supporting customers that are making financial decisions that are not in their best interest.

Leading into tomorrow

The mandated requirements for working from home over the last year have seen organisations benefit from a more level playing field, without different floors or office use defining hierarchy. However, this has also created a challenge in how to ensure a sense of inclusion and camaraderie while individuals are home alone. At the same time, leaders have had to strike the right balance between being directive and showing empathy, recognising there is a business to be run whilst acknowledging the significant challenges facing their employees. As organisations now turn to think about the right operating models of tomorrow, industry leadership will need to face the new challenge of hybrid working head on.

The power of partnerships

The pandemic has shown the power of partnerships for the financial services industry, with FinTech enabling many incumbents to offer choice, flexibility and speed at this critical time. The delivery of the Government’s Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CIBLS) is just one example where FinTech played a key role. According to our latest CBI survey, nearly half of respondents expect to actively partner with FinTechs in the next 18 months, and with increasing recognition that partnerships enable access to new capabilities while supporting existing strengths – e.g. a FinTech providing a digital solution that enables wealth managers to focus on their client interactions – it’s clear the prioritisation, selection and implementation of FinTech partnerships will be key for the future of the industry.

The next in this series of articles will delve into the theme of partnerships in more detail, exploring the power of the FinTech ecosystem to create commercial success and good customer outcomes.

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Isabelle Jenkins

Isabelle Jenkins

Leader of Industry for Financial Services, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)7711 773030

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