What’s on the Minds of Innovation Leaders in Financial Services?

Continuous investment in fintech development is delivering fast and sizeable ROI to savvy financial service providers. But this area hasn’t been without its issues—for instance, larger firms’ unsuccessful efforts to develop and launch new lending models, including microfinance. Our partners at ILO have hosted numerous roundtables with innovation leaders in this rapidly evolving segment, and we’re sharing several valuable insights gained from these discussions right here.

U+, in partnership with the ILO Institute, is excited to bring you highlights from ILO’s Weekly Virtual Gatherings. This week, we’re sharing insights from a series of discussions with innovators in the financial sector.

We’ve been holding discussions with innovation leaders in financial services for the past month to explore issues top-of-mind, and activities perceived as the most strategically important.

Continuing development of payment technologies is near the top of the list. Wells Fargo and Citi are both continuing to invest through internal development programs, and external investments in payment-tech, largely because of already realized savings and some new revenues in this segment.

Visa is taking a somewhat different approach, focusing more on partnering with large core-tech players like AWS and Apple, and emphasizing higher-margin value-added applications of new payment technologies.

Investing in AI applications to improve customer experience is also a high and active priority.

The former head of one large data lab at Wells Fargo recently moved to Standard Chartered Bank to become head of customer experience globally—emphasizing the path from data to CX that is clearly emerging now.

Bringing offer-engine programs built for consumer and small-business banking, driven by new waves of data and strong artificial intelligence, to large institutional customers is of high interest to large players including BlackRock and Goldman Sachs. Both have long histories of institutional banking but have built robust consumer services in recent years.

New lending models, including microfinance, remain of interest to major financial-services players, but a general sense of having been burned by early unsuccessful efforts in this area remains at several of the larger firms.

Many innovation and data leaders in financial services firms have had their remits expanded to include planning for new models of work and workspace since the beginning of the pandemic.

Smarter call-center staffing is also of great interest, for potential gains in productivity and reduction in headcount, promised by vendors like AWS.

“The pay-off I’m waiting for is staffing impact,” the head of AI at a regional bank in Ohio tells ILO. “We should see headcount in call centers, and cost for external call-center support, change dramatically. But we have not seen much of that yet.”

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Launched in 2005, ILO is a membership organization for large companies, government agencies and not-for-profits, bringing senior executives leading innovation together for knowledge sharing and community building. ILO has completed more than 300 best-practice research reports, focusing on emerging challenges and opportunities. To learn more about ILO, membership benefits, and how to join, visit www.iloinstitute.net.

Check back next week as we’ll be releasing new insights from weekly events with leading innovators from across the globe.

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