FST Media Banking and Finance Conference: Is Forward Thinking Distracting from the “Now”?

Here are thoughts and commentary after the FST Media Banking and Finance Conference, Sydney, Australia.

This year’s event was a significant milestone in that it was the 10th anniversary; and sure thing, the numbers of delegates were there to back that up with over 700 of them filling up George street Hilton.

For Cincom it was also a special event because we had the opportunity to  show our technology and discuss with delegates, the benefits financial and insurance institutions can experience with CPQ by increasing sales effectiveness during critical stages such as needs analysis, mass customisations of products/services, proposals and quotes generation. We also get to show how Cincom is constantly forward thinking.

One of the important themes weaved into this year’s event were the concrete steps undertaken by some organisations to embrace customer centricity and what exactly that meant; one aspect was the realisation that even simple things such as language and terminologies were essential in meeting the customers on their own turf. Making banking easy, seamless and simple is important. For example, taking about home ownership rather than mortgage as Westpac’s Rachel Slade explained.

Shefali Gupta from DBS Bank in Singapore went even further and said banking needed to become invisible.

Luis Uguina of Macquarie Bank reminded us no change or customer obsession was possible without taking into account the human factor and understanding the critical demands of the customers. Corporate culture eats strategy for breakfast every day and hope is not a strategy. A thought reinforced by Jenny Williams from HCF who explained that culture and processes are the biggest barriers to innovation.

The content-packed two days wrapped up with a candid presentation reminiscing over 32 years of managing change in Banking by Phil Chronican, former CEO of ANZ Australia. He pointed out that many organisations have lost their sense of “purpose” which is to support its customers and help them grow and prosper; instead they have put profits and rewards at the front. The warning was also clear, new entrants will exploit where banks fall short of customers’ legitimate expectations.

While there were a lot of emphasis on the future and on predictions, and these are important, I hope our financial institutions don’t forget about the Now and forward thinking. It was encouraging to see a number of institutions have a better understanding what customer services and customer experience really means and adopt concreate steps and measures to adapt to the new paradigm and make some changes.

Ultimately institutions need to remember about forward thinking: “We need banking but we don’t need banks anymore” (Bill Gates).