Fintech Finance Magazine Spring 2018

Page 34


Taking it to the Max To call Exagens’ personal financial assistant a ‘chatbot’ is to insult its cognitive intelligence. Here, CEO Michael Stojda, explains why talk is cheap but the real value is in personalised customer engagement Extracted from conversations we’ve had with a broad range of financial institutions, we’ve identified what we believe are five consistent trends emerging in banking that are translating into opportunities for financial institutions, as well as driving Exagens’ focus.


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Founded by a team of finance industry veterans with the goal of being at the centre of an unfolding revolution in banking – Exagens assists financial institutions in navigating and shaping this exciting future, by helping them to ensure they keep their customers with them through all these changes. The most prevalent of these trends is the shift in the frequency of transactions, as well as the migration of customer interactions from branch to ATM, to web, to mobile and now to other digitally-enabled touch points. Each past shift has not resulted in the extinction of a previous touch point, but often only a reduction in its use. This has been a huge challenge for traditional banks; while their customers may now only visit a branch once or twice a year, they still want (and expect) the branch to be there when they need it – and with convenient hours. We have even seen some banks, after significantly upgrading their digital offering, then launch a marketing campaign to say that they are open seven days a week with longer hours. Banks have been investing in digital to reduce costs and they have taken broad swipes at resources in the branches and call centres to decrease human resources costs. But the reality is that the more customers use digital channels, the more they seem to want human interaction. Banks need to get the digital experience right to attract and retain customers. However, the branch

continues to play an important part of the overall customer experience. The challenge for financial institutions is how, at the very minimum, they maintain and, hopefully, increase the client value and relevance of those branches, while simultaneously adjusting the costs to reflect today’s realities. A big challenge is finding the correct tipping point to achieve this delicate balance.

Evolution or revolution? Long gone are the days of single-relationship banking clients because it is increasingly easy for those clients to compare what appear to most consumers to be similar products and services, and then switch and transfer between providers with electronic ease. It is no surprise that the average consumer (especially in North America) has financial relationships with multiple institutions, and the number keeps growing. Some financial institutions have responded to, or have been created to be, the lowest cost providers, relentlessly driving down pricing to gain competitive advantage from a few basis points. For others, it’s about seeking ways to add more than just transactional services and digital convenience, in order to be trusted as providing value in the management of customers’ evolving daily financial lives. The third trend is how financial institutions (FIs) are striking the balance between potential technology benefits and the cost and risk of introducing them. Most banks have experienced the graveyard of technology projects that failed to deliver as promised or envisaged – or were never fully realised. Although aware of the constant need to evolve, banks can become overwhelmed with the adoption of new technologies and how to effectively integrate them into their organisations. Many are looking at how to evolve in bite-sized chunks rather

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