3 Key Strategies to Help Financial Services Firms Prepare to Navigate Digital Transformation
The demand for digital transformation in financial services has been growing for years — and it’s only accelerated with the pandemic and with increasing regulatory and security demands.
In fact, according to the 2020 Banking Experience Survey by Citizens Bank, 50% of consumers and 76% of businesses said the pandemic changed how they interact with their financial institution — and they want to keep it that way permanently.
So if your company hasn’t already started, the time for change is now.
But going digital isn’t just about satisfying customers. It’s about optimizing the business from the inside out. (After all, you can hardly expect to deliver the superior digital-first experiences that customers want while maintaining the non-digital status quo in your day-to-day internal operations.)
Unfortunately, just because you know something is important doesn’t always mean you know how to make it a reality. And in many parts of the financial services industry, there’s still “a long, long way to go.”
Shocking? Not entirely.
The truth is digital transformation is rarely quick or easy. This is especially true when the scope of change is as broad as it is in the world of finance. Historically, it’s been a highly physical industry: hard copy documents, in-person meetings, snail mail, wet signatures… even cold, hard, physical cash.
So how can financial organizations prepare to navigate the extensive change required to operate competitively and deliver the superior digital experiences and value their customers want?
In this article, we’ll share three key strategies to help financial companies identify and implement the digital tools they need to get to the next level — plus a powerful interactive resource for navigating change management with your team.
Strategy #1: Make it true cloud or bust
When it comes to staying competitive in the financial industry, the cloud isn’t optional. It’s mission critical.
- Attracting more customers with digital platforms and experiences
- Getting greater value and insight from data
- Participating seamlessly in the financial services ecosystem
- Securely connecting with vendors, employees, and customers
- Innovating on product and service offerings
- Optimizing internal business processes and increasing collaboration
- Easily scaling systems up or down as needed
- Reaching customers around the globe
Significantly, the cloud empowers financial organizations to address these needs while reducing costs. That’s because true cloud solutions reduce the need for costly hardware and dedicated IT resources.
According to Alexandre Delen, executive director of Delen Private Bank, failure to innovate and take advantage of the cloud could spell doom for financial organizations.
But fortunately, research indicates that while moving to the cloud can be a slow process, the rewards are “fast and substantial” for everything from your frontline users to your bottom line.
Keep in mind, however, that there are many cloud imposters. When you’re looking for innovative cloud solutions to replace your legacy on-premises systems, opt for platforms that are native to the cloud — not just repackaged to look like it.
Strategy #2: Don’t compromise on compliance
When it comes to digital transformation, some businesses have it easier than others. But for financial services firms and other regulated industries, there are a few extra hoops to jump through.
Staying compliant with government regulations, security requirements, and other constraints can make the whole process of going digital more complex. But if you opt for tools that aren’t streamlined for compliance, you could be creating more work for yourself and your team, not less.
That’s why it’s so critical to find solutions from providers who understand the needs of regulated industries and can help your team stay compliant.
It’s also why a solution like NetDocuments is great for financial institutions. While our platform was originally designed for the legal profession, we have many clients in industries that require a high level of security and compliance with their document management system (DMS), such as government, higher education, medicine and pharmaceuticals, and of course, financial services.
Thanks to the cloud and state-of-the-art security, platforms like NetDocuments can offer pass-through compliance certificates and audits for rigorous security frameworks.
And that means you can have peace of mind without lifting a finger.
Strategy #3: Ace your digital transformation strategy
Having the right tools is great — but if your team doesn’t use them, it doesn’t matter how great they promise to be.
And the unfortunate reality is that far too many teams never enjoy the full benefits of the technologies they invest in. Often, that’s because they don’t have a strong change management strategy in place to make implementation seamless and adoption a no-brainer. As is often said, if you fail to plan, plan to fail.
So, what can you do to make sure you get it right? Here are a few high-level tips:
- Get the right support from executives and other functions. Many times the people who get tasked with finding new digital solutions for their teams aren’t actually software implementation experts. (So if it feels overwhelming and way outside your wheelhouse, you’re not alone!) All you need to do is find the right support from executives, cross-functional teams, and partners who are change management experts.
- Prioritize collaboration and get buy-in. Make sure your team understands why you’re making the change — and how it’s going to make their lives so. much. easier. Then, everyone can work together towards the same goal instead of pushing and pulling in different directions.
Digital Transformation: A Journey Worth Making
If you get cold feet at the thought of going all-in on digital transformation, you’re not alone. It can be a challenging process, especially if several of your essential systems are still on-premises.
But is the challenge worth the effort? Absolutely.
With the right technology investments, an organization can dramatically improve productivity — and generate massive ROI.
Take it from a top global accountancy firm. After adopting NetDocuments as part of their cloud-first strategy, the firm has been able to improve their process for managing documents and email while enhancing security and compliance.
"NetDocuments has helped streamline work and increase productivity across the whole business," says the firm’s IT partner. "NetDocuments also keeps data protected across the organization, helping to comply with policies such as GDPR by deleting information when we no longer need it."
But it’s not just about the now — investing in digital transformation has been a crucial part of future-proofing their firm.
"Enabling staff to access our documents from anywhere using their device of choice is becoming increasingly important, especially as working practices change," Julie says. "We think this is crucial for employee productivity and happiness as we look to attract and retain the best talent."