Blog post

Three Evolutions of Digital in Financial Services

By Michael Horney | February 24, 2022 | 1 Comment

Financial Services

Financial services leaders have made significant investments in digital capabilities over the last two years. But oftentimes digital channels fail to serve customers’ complex needs, like planning a life event or navigating an unexpected situation. To solve this challenge, leading firms shifted their digital business priority from creating better customer experiences to supporting customers’ financial lives.

This shift in customer focus has created three evolutions of digital innovation in financial services.

Easier self-service transactions

Most financial institutions are proficient at the basics: creating easier self-service transactions. This involves using digital channels for fast, convenient, cost-efficient service. Mobile applications and websites provide intuitive interfaces and create a place for customers to shop for products. Customers often use digital channels at the beginning stages of a more complex need, but few customers complete these interactions through digital.

Empowered customer journeys

The next evolution of digital picks up where self-service transactions left off. Customers have more complex financial needs, like buying a home. Digital initiatives to support this journey may involve automated savings for a down payment, tracking goals, and advice for how to cut spending relative to other customers. For example, alerting a customer that they are spending significantly more at restaurants each month compared to their peers.

But empowering customer journeys could also go beyond the traditional scope of financial services. For example, customers purchasing a home may also need help with moving, changing their address, evaluating local schools/child cares services, or buying/financing new furniture. Financial institutions that successfully empower customer journeys use data to anticipate these needs after purchase and provide offerings that support the customer’s financial life.

Embedded financial relationships

The final evolution is embedded financial relationships. This is the integration of real-time customer data and third-party relationships to deliver a more personalized, tailored product for the customer. Firms are using digital ecosystems to proactively anticipate customer needs and drive better outcomes. So instead of providing financing options for new furniture after a customer purchases a house, leading firms will recognize that a customer is looking to buy a new home and proactively offer financing options before the purchase. With the use of third-party data, digital ecosystems could recognize that backed-up supply chains will delay shipments, encouraging the customer to purchase furniture before settlement. It may even offer delayed payments to reduce the financial burden that comes with a down payment on a house. 

Digital ecosystems can use third-party data to help inform customers during the home buying journey. Financial institutions can use weather or crime data to assess the riskiness of buying in particular neighborhoods. Long-term real estate prices in specific areas could help customers forecast their investment and realize the benefits of buying versus renting. The main difference in this third evolution of digital is that firms are proactively using partnerships to solve for true end-to-end journeys. And they are expanding their product offerings beyond traditional financial services to provide personalized product offerings.

Conclusion

Providing easy and convenient digital transactions is now the bare minimum for financial services providers. Financial institutions now need to start empowering customers through their digital journeys. And leaders should start exploring the possibilities of using third-party data and digital ecosystems to better their customers’ financial lives.

To learn more about embedded financial relationships and what your peers are doing in the industry, schedule a call with a Gartner expert.

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1 Comment

  • Joe Brehel says:

    You are right. Thank you for the opportunity to read it.