One of the best parts of my Digital Capital Markets Lead role is the conversations I have with Investment Banks globally about what is top of mind for the near and mid-term. Whilst no bank is the same, I am seeing three themes in the front office as flexible working becomes more embedded, influencing priorities for the coming months and years.

Prioritising user experience

“Digital transformation is pointless if it doesn't transform the user experience, and design is how we create this experience. We use UX design and digital technology to take an awful user-experience and transform it into an unforgettable one that makes users happy and solves their problems.” Source: UX Design Agency

Bankers need to be technically self-sufficient for the first time, with tools that were never built for them; impacting their ability to do the day job efficiently and engage with their clients remotely. Having consumer grade products in the Investment Banking workplace is not a vision I hear often, but the concept is gaining traction as a way to deliver better user adoption. To achieve this, user research is critical. The concept of user research is not new, but has been based on assumptions, limited prototyping and feedback, impacting what’s been developed. For tools like CRM or UI refreshes, I am seeing an increased focus on platform agnostic prototyping with users including platform agnostic prototypes as the first step in the process, not an afterthought. Here's a brilliant blog on how UX fuels disruption.

Challenging established practices

Building and sustaining relationships is at the core of Investment Banking; travel and socialisation restrictions have forced banks to re-think how they interact with their clients at scale particularly for investor roadshows and conferences. The response to this challenge seems to be varying significantly by bank.

On one side we are seeing banks take a “keep the lights on” approach – focusing on a short term, stop gap solution to deliver larger events remotely, replicating presentations and interactions as best they can, waiting for normal services to resume in the new year.

Others are treating this as an opportunity to disrupt, both as a way to improve the client experience to deliver better return on investment, while providing a new opportunity to challenge the underlying costs. This approach is focused on really exploring the client experience, leveraging CRM preferences to providing personalised experience through investor or conference invites reflecting brand values to targeted follow-ups through coverage teams and well branded and thought through digital content.

Whilst conferences and roadshows will never go away, I’m already seeing new applications of platforms like LinkedIn for conferences including livestreaming keynote interviews 0 RBC is a great example of this in their recent TMT Investor Conference.

Re-thinking remote working

Whilst working from home has given us some benefits (reduced commuting time, more focused working), it has put a stronger focus on the tools we use day to day. Regardless of how we return to an office environment, numerous banks are using this time to really understand what working remotely means, who it practically feasible for in a regulatory environment and what would need to be done to achieve this. To achieve this, we’ve been using “day in the life” journey mapping to identify critical activities performed (both internal and external), data required and the underlying technology used. We’ve noticed a few trends:

  • Think ecosystem: By leading with journeys, not technology and prioritising key moments, we are seeing a “lumpy” set of technologies, which don’t connect or leverage data in the best scenario, and expose complete gaps in critical functional areas in the worst case.

  • Tactical fixes: Banks are missing basic technology which is making remote working impossible – prioritising compliance approval of digital signatures has made a massive impact in one organisation… resolving a multi-year battle with compliance on the importance of the functionality.

  • Overlap and integration: There is significant tools overlap, especially in collaboration tools by group or region, often the result of conflicting pet projects that have become more visible. Whilst standardising on one platform feels like a step too far, articulating how platforms need to used, and integrating those platforms into the technical ecosystem to leverage data where possible is becoming a priority.

It’s clear that we are starting to see clear differences in how these challenge are being tackled in a short-term tactical vs longer term more comprehensive approach, testing concepts and adapting. The “winners” longer term will no doubt shake up some long established ways of working, but will execute those changes in a very different way… prioritising the client or banker experience.

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