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What's next with financial, insurance and banking services?

08NextGenCustomer.jpgThis dude to the right? He’s about to inherit a whole whack of money.

Indeed, before the financial meltdown in the last month, the slides I used at a wide variety of financial, banking and insurance conferences noted that the issue of inter-generatlonal wealth transfer is a huge challenge and opportunity. Estimates suggest that we’ll see $12 to $18 trillion in money moving from one generation to another in the next 12 years ….. put that up against US GDP of $12 trillion. Cut in half for the stock market crash, and it is still a staggering number!

By 2053, the number will total $130 trillion – and the funds will move to a far more independent, financially savvy, technically sophisticated generation.

How do you maintain your relevance to this next generation customer? Through innovation.

Here’s something of interest: despite the caustic conditions throughout the global banking and insurance industry, there are still a huge number of senior executives who are focused on the key trends that will impact them in the future. They do know the one thing that I know to be true: one day the volatility in the banking and insurance sector will have gone away. Things will have calmed down, and we’ll have a banking, insurance and financial sector that is “back to normal.” Or, at least, a “new normal.”

And we also do know this: once we come out of “this thing,” organizations will be back to the old-fashioned, pre-hedge-fund-derivative-fuelled ways of making money: by coming up with innovative new financial products and services that solve the problems of customers; by excelling at customer service; by launching and nurturing innovative new brands that resonate with customers; through deep, fast and transformative marketing campaigns that form unique relationships with customers. In other words, innovation will be the most critical measure of future success in the banking and insurance sector.

So how do we get there? I’ve had a few leadership retreats in the last two months with a number of global and national financial groups who are already thinking about these issues; they’ve asked me in for my thoughts on linking future trends to an innovation agenda as part of a leadership offsite. (Obviously, given fast paced trends, I’m not going into a list of companies. Suffice it to say, there are some senior leadership teams who are busy ensuring that their companies are ready for the next phase in financial services.)

What am I speaking about? Grabbing bullets from a few of the slides that I used:

Agility defines capability

  • success is defined by ability to respond to rapidly changing products, markets, business models, rapid economic trends, competitive moves, skills issues
  • innovation moves from more than just “products” to process, ad analytics, methodology, structure, capabilities, scalability, collaborative ability …. productivity

It’s about staying out in front of client / broker expectations. That’s why you need to be able to

  • scale faster
  • deploy faster
  • focus narrower

Certainties we know going forward: we’ll be in an era in which we have to constantly rebalance strategy, because of certain certainties five years out:

  • business models will be continually redefined
  • category dynamics and distribution models will be transformed and subject to external pressure
  • products will be re-invented at a more rapid pace, particularly with fast changing actuarial assumptions
  • brand perceptions will shift quicker, particular as new “influencers” in branding come to be more prevalent (Web 2.0 etc)
  • target customers will be more challenging and far less loyal

What do you do about this? One of my closing slides had this to say: “To grow in fast paced, volatile markets, focus on strength through partnership..” That will get you there quicker.

Key point: financial services, banking and insurance innovation hasn’t gone away. It’s going to come back with a roar, and the leaders in this industry are positioning themselves now.

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