Like many, the financial services sector has had a turbulent year. But how are the sector’s leaders responding — and has it changed their priorities for the future?

In recent years, the financial services sector has become accustomed to rolling with big changes — from the rise of fintechs to the impact of shifting regulations. But this year, as in almost every other sector, the disruption has been monumental.

COVID-19 has forced financial services and insurance leaders to re-evaluate their business models, and rethink their operations, on a very short time scale. But even as the pandemic has thrown out new challenges, it’s unlocked some opportunities too.

In our recent financial services show at Salesforce Live: Switzerland, we gathered leading experts from the sector to explore what’s changed this year, what we can learn from it, and what it means for the future.

If you didn’t manage to tune in live, you can now watch the show on-demand. Or you can read on, and we’ll share some of the key insights.


It’s a digital world, for everyone

The show kicked off with a look at what’s changed for financial services brands. And if there was one key takeaway, it’s this: all customers are now digital customers.

Whether financial services institutions were already offering digital services or not, lockdowns and social distancing measures have forced them to adapt to digital channels. Equally, more traditionally minded customers were forced to change their behaviour, and learn to use the digital services they wouldn’t previously have engaged with.

This accelerated shift towards digital has instantly transformed the dynamic between the long-standing financial services brands and the fintechs. Now, digital-first services are no longer quite the differentiators they once were, and these younger companies will have to work harder to compete on customer experience.


Opportunities out of disruption

We’ve heard from a wide variety of Salesforce customers across the sessions at Salesforce Live: Switzerland. We were lucky to have leading insurance company Generali share the insights its teams have gained over the past few months.

COVID disruption meant you had to come up with short term solutions to continue business. But this has helped us become more agile, encouraging us to think outside the box, deploy faster, and adapt on solutions after launch.”

Mike Fuhrmann, CMO at Generali

Mike also offered us an insight into how his team connected with customers during the disruption. “When our customers went into lockdown, we just started calling them up – not to offer them a new policy, but just to see how they’re doing,” said Mike. “All of a sudden, they started completely opening up to us. It cemented their trust with Generali, and at the end of the day, insurance is a relationship that’s built on trust.”


New priorities for 2021 and beyond

As analysts from across the sector talked us through the current FSI trends, we brought together two of Salesforce Switzerland’s most forward-thinking financial services experts to debate which were most important.

Covering everything from IIF payments to AI fraud prevention, Dimitri Blӓttler, Principal Solution Engineer at Salesforce, and Achraf Tangui, Lead Solution Engineer at Salesforce, predicted where financial services will focus their attention in the coming years.

On the topic of payment ecosystems, Achraf observed that “compartmentalisation of services is an opportunity for banks to extend their offering and go beyond their brick and mortar services.” 

Achraf then spoke to the potential benefits for brands and their customers alike, explaining how the trend will allow banks to “team up with fintechs and offer services that have not been possible before – which will ultimately benefit the consumer, because they have the choice where to take their payments, and stay in an ecosystem they trust.”

Dimitri explored the sector’s trend towards low-code development, explaining how “it’s going to help administrators without those core development skills add greater value to their business, shift operations to be more agile, and reduce the costs of new initiatives.”

Ultimately, the lively debate ended with agreement on both sides. Achraf and Dimitri both predicted that the key focus for next year would be doubling down on customer trust. 

Trust is the new currency for financial services. Every player needs trust in the ecosystem, otherwise you don’t do business.”

Dimitri Blӓttler

Watch the whole financial services session online

We’ve only scratched the surface here. The live show was packed with compelling conversations about the future of financial services. Watch the full session online now.