Bringing the digital revolution to financial services

Financial services are at the cross-road of embracing digital transformation or getting left behind.

The start of 2021 sees the financial services industry at a clear inflection point.

‘The past few years have brought massive change in the industry. Changing regulatory landscapes, increasingly complex security threats, and the threat from nimble challenger banks mean banks are having to reflect deeply on their organisational resilience.

Regulatory bodies, for their part, are having to consider how to ensure we have the right regulation to remain safe, while ensuring we have the agility to innovate and stay ahead.

The rapid onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has added extra fuel to the fire, as the need for home working saw complex system architecture managed from employees’ homes, rather than tightly controlled office spaces.

It’s no exaggeration to say a decade of digital transformation took place overnight. The infrastructure, however, didn’t quite keep up. So how can financial services face these challenges?

Digital resilience is essential

If the pandemic has shown us anything, it’s that the old way of doing things is not enough.

Many financial institutions still rely on spreadsheets, paper documents, and compliance-after-the-fact, and in a digital world, this isn’t enough. Not only is it inefficient, it’s risky, making comprehensive security operations difficult and the oversight of employees and paper trails immensely complex.

It’s no exaggeration to say a decade of digital transformation took place overnight.

On top of that, it just doesn’t offer the kind of customer experience that is expected nowadays. Customer experience is the most significant differentiator between goods and services today, and financial services is no different. With new entrants to the market offering consumers smart, digital-first solutions for their mortgages, loans, current accounts, and investments, banks need to be operating at the same speed, if not faster, to keep up.

Banks have taken some steps to address these issues already, attempting to connect disjointed systems and making steps toward cloud systems to secure and better harness data. But further steps are required.

[Read also: The rising threat of privacy debt]

For the financial services industry to gain true digital resilience, they need to be digital from the ground up. Digital services must become part of the DNA of our financial institutions, rather than something to bolt on as we go along.

Unlocking digital transformation in financial services

What that means is clear: As we move into this new decade, banks need to be consolidating their operations to a single core strategic platform.

This approach will bring financial institutions the digital resilience they need, not only driving efficiency on a day-to-day basis, but making it easier to react quickly when necessary and weather difficult times when they come.

Gains in efficiency will slash the costs of service provision, providing much-needed capital to invest in R&D at a time when low interest rates are eroding spending power.

On top of that, a single view of all data processes will make it easier to keep track of complex data streams and be perpetually ready for legal requirements like auditing, rather than huge efforts to collate back-data when the call comes.

But, just as importantly, a single architecture can provide a vastly superior experience for financial service customers and may just prove to give financial services the agility they need to compete in a world of challengers and unicorns.

One single, entirely digital journey across a bank’s wide range of services creates the possibility of a one-stop portal for all a customer’s financial service needs, offering a clear advantage against using multiple operators with different requirements, systems, security features, and rules.

Driving change with ServiceNow

The financial service industry may have challenges ahead. But it has clear opportunities, too.

The solutions required to ensure digital resilience and compliance will also play a key role in transforming customer experience, and making our financial services institution fit for the future, whatever it holds.

As the platform of platforms for digital transformation, ServiceNow simplifies complex processes, boosts efficiency, and maximises customer experience.

The Now Platform offers one single solution—with one architecture and data model—which presents to customers seamless workflows and one overarching view of business processes, giving them more time and resources to focus elsewhere.

That will be invaluable not just for financial services but for other industries, too.