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Transformation a priority for majority of financial services leaders in 2021

by Jackson B
  • 84% of financial services executives are planning transformation projects in the next year
  • New technology, customer experience and expansion into new markets are the most popular areas for executives reinvesting capital unlocked through increased efficiency in 2021

Four in five UK financial services executives (84%) are planning to transform their business in the next 12 months, according to a new report from Parseq.

The business process outsourcer surveyed more than 50 C-suite executives at some of the UK’s biggest financial services firms, finding the operations those planning transformation in 2021 will focus on.

Marketing (44%), sales (37%) and customer experience (19%) were the most popular front office operations identified by executives. While in the back office, finance and administration (35%), IT (30%), compliance (26%) and HR (26%) were the functions cited most frequently as an area of focus.

Every executive polled (100%) will also take steps to make their business more efficient in the next 12 months, indicating how the UK’s biggest financial services firms will realise their transformation plans.

Focus on efficiency

Use of AI and machine learning (41%), digital channels for internal and external communications (35%) and new workflow management software (33%) are the most popular steps financial services executives will take to increase business efficiency in 2021.

When asked how they will use capital unlocked through efficiency gains in the next 12 months, more than half of sector leaders said they will invest in new technology (57%), almost two fifths said they would improve customer experience (37%) and expand into new markets (37%) and more than a third will expand within existing markets (35%) and reinvest the capital in L&D for staff (35%).

Executives also highlighted several barriers to making their businesses more efficient, citing cost (37%), complexity (35%), a lack of time (29%), a lack of knowledge (29%) and a reliance on legacy systems (29%) as their biggest hurdles. A fifth (20%) flagged a lack of awareness of available third-party support was holding them back.

Craig Naylor-Smith, managing director, Parseq, said: “In a competitive climate, when consumer and business confidence is low, transformation projects that drive growth must remain on the agenda.

“Our first Big Business Efficiency Report shows financial services leaders are pursuing transformation to secure new business and protect customer relationships against a backdrop of disruption. This is easier when every business area works in harmony, so it’s also encouraging to see finance and administration, the heart of the back office, prioritised by executives.

“Increased efficiency unlocks the investment needed for successful transformation projects. Support from third parties with the right expertise and experience can help executives achieve this, take advantage of the latest innovations and build resilience as we head into a critical year for UK financial services businesses.”

Parseq provides a range of bespoke business processing services, including digital mailrooms, data hosting, payment processing and allocation and document management.

The company uses technologies such as optical character recognition (OCR), intelligent character recognition (ICR) and robotic process automation (RPA) to digitise more than 70 million customer correspondences every year and handles over £36 billion in payments annually.

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