This year, we were lucky enough to have Sibos hosted in London. But, with all of the biggest names in banking and finance under one roof last week jostling for ‘air time’, what were the cut through messages and ideas that really hit home? Here are my five main takeaways I think are really set to make an impact on the future of finance.
Rationalisation and consolidation of functions
The range of both retail and commercial banking services and products naturally grows with different variations and features every year. We are now at a point where there are too many products doing similar things which can be confusing for the customer and internal teams. For a while, this has led to the idea of having ‘horizontal’ or ‘cross-functional’ teams where they deal with retail and corporate customers. This is now trickling through into the payments space also, with a number of banks consolidating payments functions to look for cross-skilling and technology consolidation options, whilst also improving customer service.
With most of the financial institutions in attendance currently going through digital transformation, what they need to make sure they include during their transformation journey, is a function to clean the data (which is accumulating at a staggering rate) so they can guarantee it is compliant and can be utilised to extract business value, as well as implementing technology which can help rationalise their product range.
Innovation takes the commercial sector by storm
Until now, it could be argued that much of the digital financial innovation has taken place in the retail banking sector. What became clear at Sibos 2019 is that commercial banks are waking up to the fact that their clients want to access these new services for their businesses. At the event’s ‘Discovery Zone’ banks were displaying their work and ideas across a range of areas from bio-metric risk analysis to sector specific industry innovation (e.g. Natwest with BioCatch and Farm Assistant, or ING Innovation with a wide range of solutions such as in KYC with CorpID).
Some commercial banks understand the value of having that talent in-house and are creating their own technical know-how which will be huge assets to their businesses. What’s more, we are also seeing greater levels of collaboration not just between fintechs but between the bigger banks themselves in areas like fraud, KYC, standards of information exchange and APIs.
Closer ties between business and technology
Many companies that we spoke with during the event are still struggling with the combination of getting agile ways of working effectively in place with both business and technology teams. Ideally, banks would no longer work in a siloed manner and technology would be fully embedded into every team and department throughout an organisation. However, there is still much to be done to ensure technology teams are working closely with sales, distribution and product teams. Clearly there is an opening here for sharing across banks on lessons learned as well as technology solution providers to provide assistance and solutions.
Open Banking – adapting to new ways of operating
Open Banking has been at the top of the agenda for the previous few Sibos events, and 2019 was no exception. However, this year saw multiple discussions regarding how organisations are adapting to new ways of operating, particularly how they are accommodating to changing legislation and evolving expectations around client service. So, it’s less about regulations and compliance as it has historically been, but more about striking the balance between maintaining regulatory compliance and delivering exceptional customer experience.
Move to “zero” operations
In other conversations we had during Sibos, a number of different banks mentioned that they are striving to move to “zero” operations. By standardising their operation flows and making a considerable investment in upgrading their end-to-end software solutions, several banks said that they are hoping to dramatically reduce their internal processes. Much of this in the corporate space is following the large reductions in front office trading activity or mid-to-back office automation improvements through initial waves of Robotic Process Automation (RPA). The shift now is towards full digital process automation (DPA) rather than piecemeal fixes across single point issues. The real sweet point will be getting the right balance between full automation and effectively managing exceptions and the advisory element of corporate banking which will always have an element of personal touch.
It’s clear that there is a lot going on in the corporate and commercial banking sector, and the investment and innovation will lead to some step-change improvements. Whilst some of this is a carryover from retail banking change, much of it is being driven by the banks and their clients’ demands for real improvements against difficult economic and business condition