What we learned from our 'innovation in financial services’ webinar

We recently hosted a webinar with the FinTech Network, ahead of their Customer Experience for Financial Services Conference, to discuss the topic of innovation and customer experience in financial services. We were joined by three great panellists - Oke Oleazu, COO at Bought by Many, Bil Ahmed, Head of Product Innovation at Investec and Paola Miani, Head of Design Strategy at Lloyds Banking Group - who gave us their views on innovation in the market. Here’s what we learned:

1. Innovation is a state of mind

The greatest driver of innovation is customer need. This can be relatively easy for a start up that is completely customer focused, trying to build a customer base before later refining their products and services. However, this can be harder for larger and more established organisations which are expected to already offer the best products and services. When the webinar audience was asked: “How much resistance do you get to innovation within your organisation?”, almost three quarters replied with: “A lot of resistance – it’s difficult to get anything done”.

Innovation is a behaviour and therefore must be at the heart of an organisation. In the case of Lloyds Banking Group, this accounts for part of their £3bn investment in becoming the bank of the future, which was announced earlier this year. They are very much focused on empowering their colleagues to do the right things, to make positive changes.

We asked all of those who registered for the webinar to highlight what they thought the most important enabler of innovation was and almost one third said it was: “Leadership and management commitment”:

2. Technology doesn’t drive innovation

Whilst consensus on the webinar from the panelists was that machine learning and AI are likely to have the biggest impact in terms of new technology, it was agreed that customer needs should be driving innovation. We should listen to what our customers want and innovate in order to get there, rather than let new technology be the driver itself. Oke explained that when Bought by Many launched one of their first pet insurance products, they asked 34,000 people in a Facebook group what they wanted, and designed their product based on that insight.

Audience feedback highlighted three broad trends in what people are doing to drive innovation in their businesses:

1. Improving customer insight – collecting as much information as possible to understand what customers want and need, and looking beyond what customers say they want today, to find their needs of tomorrow

2. Developing an innovative culture - creating the right mindset in their organisation, providing the tools and methodologies and fostering an inquisitive culture where employees are empowered to come up with new ideas

3. Using new technologies - investing in technology infrastructure, to maintain a competitive edge in delivering the products and services that customers demand

Most importantly, we all agreed that if you don’t understand a problem well, it doesn’t matter what tools you use, you’re not going to solve it.

3. Banks are leading the way

Over 50% of the webinar audience suggested that Retail Banking was likely to see the highest level of innovation over the next 12 months:

Given the high levels of disruption by challenger banks, regulations such as Open Banking and the earlier point about ’need’ being the biggest driver of innovation, this comes as no surprise. Customers have high expectations, and know exactly what they want from their bank. This is partly because start-up banks are showing people what is possible and means the traditional retail banks are under pressure to innovate and keep up.

Nearly a third of the audience also highlighted insurance as another sector likely to see high levels of innovation. Again, this is in line with the fact that machine learning and AI are most likely to impact industries with high volumes of customers and transactions. Insurance is a busy market with lots of people, who have lots of opinions and requirements.

We would like to thank our panelists and audience members who joined this webinar. If you’d like to listen to the full recording, you can do so here