Just how disruptive will 2022 be in financial services? When making annual predictions, “very” or “extremely” disruptive is always a good bet in financial services, given the urgency to innovate, the competitive stakes and the scale of digital transformation programs.
Ever-rising consumer expectations for seamless and highly personalized experiences and robust security, as well as new regulatory requirements for data privacy, underpin many of the major developments we describe below. The same is true of intensifying competition from fintechs and start-ups – not to mention consumers’ increasing propensity to try any app that simplifies their financial life.
Five Financial Services Trends to Watch in 2022
1) Ongoing Uncertainty Demands Solutions for Increased Resilience
There is almost a universal expectation that a major, unexpected event will do major short-term damage but will also unlock huge new, long-term opportunities in 2022. From market-moving Twitter users, meme-trading and the democratization of markets to “black-swan” threats and bitcoin, to natural disasters and pandemics, financial services firms must be ready for anything, all the time.
But no matter what happens, consumers will be looking for more financial security and resilience. So, firms that develop solutions to prepare consumers for the unexpected and keep consumers focused on their financial goals will have an opportunity to engage more deeply. Beyond the unpredictable landscape, continuous innovation in every part of the market will force regular rethinks about which customers firms should try to serve and how. From the most established incumbents to the hottest start-ups, every firm in financial services will compete to satisfy the continuous and rapidly evolving consumer needs.
2) Your Customers Love Bundles – The Ones They Can Make Their Own
For years, bundling has been a go-to strategy for incumbents, but, in reality, consumers aren’t impressed by this method. Bundling will make sense again only when existing providers make it easier for customers to take care of basic tasks – paying bills, picking an index fund or finding a mortgage company – in truly seamless ways.
Until bundles feature personalized recommendations and fully intuitive experiences, consumers will continue to seek (and find) much simpler solutions for specific interactions. As banks design more flexible and customizable bundles, they must remember that unbundling works because it removes friction for consumers. They must also track those tech-driven FS players – including neobanks, super apps and FinTechs – that have begun to get bundling right.
3) The Industry Rediscovers the Value of Trust and Empathy
Remember when banks, insurers and investment houses were the most trusted brands in business? It was a long time ago. Rising generations of customers may be unreachable if financial services firms don’t restore such trust. That’s why we expect to see bolder action and bigger bets from incumbents in 2022.
Some will seek to differentiate their brands via ESG commitments (e.g., leading on the transition to a greener economy and boosting financial inclusiveness). Others will seek to “productize” trust via data privacy and cyber solutions and through increased personalization. Bonus prediction: one brand experiences breakthrough success by expressing basic human empathy as it positions on increased financial wellness and security, which are among the most fundamental (and timely) of human needs.
4) Embedded Products and Ecosystems Explode
In a dynamic market circa 2022, financial services firms continue to explore multiple paths to growth. Top brands will develop their own ecosystems offering easier access to a broader set of personalized services and content, based on plug-and-play platforms. Banks will push on product innovation – working toward the first generation of sophisticated, all-digital offerings that marry rates, experiences, algorithms and other elements into something entirely new.
Financial services firms continue to build partnerships with retailers, automotive firms, airlines and hotels, and any other company that can embed their products and services into larger transactions. Yes, that means white-labeling products in some instances, but in exchange for increased access to new, qualified customers. Insurers and credit providers could offer their wares precisely when consumers are most likely to see their value – at the point of purchase. The strongest players will also seek to not only embed but also leverage the strength of their brands to negotiate better terms, even as they orchestrate their own holistic ecosystems and extend their networks.
5) New Monetization Streams Go Beyond Traditional Fees
Like platforms that continuously add new features and services to monetize customer insights and relationships, banks, insurers and asset managers will expand their realm of services. Highly targeted media – specifically addressable financial transactions – are an as-yet untapped goldmine of consumer impressions. Many other companies would love to know about a small business opening a new line of credit or a young family buying a home or opening a college savings account. And talk about attributable – in a cookieless world, the performance of ad placements in online transaction flows is made to be measured.
Banks also begin to monetize internal technology capabilities, such as analytical toolsets, risk modeling capabilities. The boldest companies will carve themselves into two parts: a subscription-based business that is about acquiring human customers; and assets-based ventures focused on maximizing return on equity. They are managed separately, to enable true customer-centricity.
Banks, insurers and wealth and asset managers have experienced a great deal of disruption and innovation in the last few years, most of it fueled by rising consumer expectations, intensifying competition and ever-advancing technology. As much as uncertainty is on the horizon, financial services executives can be sure that those trends will continue in 2022 and beyond.
Contact our financial services team today. We’d love to talk about the transformation opportunities at your organization.