Technology has brought a new focus to financial services.
The world has shifted. Developments in technology have fundamentally changed the way economies work.
Uber is now the world’s largest taxi company, yet it owns no vehicles. Airbnb is the world’s largest accommodation provider, yet it owns no real estate. And Alibaba is the world’s largest retailer, yet it owns no inventory.
Technology is disrupting and democratising a range of industries. In this environment, the world of financial services can hardly remain untouched.
“We can’t be naïve to think that the fourth industrial revolution won’t hit financial services,” says Heidie Ziervogel, the head of digital solutions at Nedbank Private Wealth. “When a client comes to us for our wealth management services they are no longer comparing us to other banks or wealth managers, they are comparing us to Uber and Airbnb.”
What this means for the industry is that the focus has to move from the products and services being offered to the experience that the client has when accessing them.
“It’s moving from an analogue world where we were physically selling products and services, to one where we have to bring the experience to life on a virtual platform,” Ziervogel says. “Technology has forced institutions like us to think about how we remain relevant and to who it is that we want to appeal to, attract and retain as our clientèle. What is it that we want them to feel and to say when they are interacting with us?”
Fundamentally what clients want is simplicity and ease of use. They don’t want anything that is not intuitive and takes time to navigate or understand.
“Generally in the modern world we have all become time poor, so we have to make sure that when we have a client’s attention that we make the best use of the little time that we have with them and we offer a great experience,” explains Ziervogel. “We have to make sure the experience is a simple one, an easy and delightful one, and most importantly that we fulfill on the job to be done and meet the client’s needs.”
For many years financial services companies have thrived on complexity. They have been criticised for deliberately making products opaque and difficult to understand so that clients are dependent on them.
However, a combination of technology and greater consumer awareness is forcing a change in this approach.
“Clients are becoming more demanding, [have a] greater level of awareness, and know that they have choice in terms of the competitor landscape,” says Ziervogel. “Financial services are also seeing new entrants coming from non-financial services backgrounds, in the form of new fintech companies.
“Fintech companies are doing quite well in terms of acquiring assets, and to me that shows that this combination of technology and clients becoming more savvy, more demanding, more educated is a big factor. This presents another alternative to clients in terms of choice of provider for financial services other than the traditional players.”
One of the big things that clients are looking for is access to products and services on mobile platforms, as this has become one of the channels in which they would prefer to interact with their financial services provider.
“We serve high-net-worth individuals,” says Ziervogel. “They are digitally savvy. They are the first adopters of new trends and the latest technologies. It makes sense that they would want to use those tools when it comes to their money as well.”
Banks and wealth managers have therefore had to develop and constantly refine their online and mobile apps. And the trend is consistently moving towards making the experience as simple for the client as possible.
“The design of our new mobile app was a client-led process, we have made every effort to deliver an elegant interface,” Ziervogel explains. “It has been designed to enable our clients to stay in touch with their wealth and us; when and how it suits them. This comprehensive new wealth-management interface will enable you to do banking, stockbroking, and trading all in one app. It shows them a single personalised dashboard of all their holdings, both locally and internationally. It provides another way to stay in touch with your relationship manager and get updates from us on your phone. The app adheres to the highest security standards to protect your personal information and your wealth.”
This article originally appeared on Moneyweb
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