Banking Fintech

How apathy can affect financial services

How apathy can affect financial services. Image: Antony Theobald, CC0
Written by Shaun Weston

Regaining control of your digital strategy can be achieved by first recognizing that change is necessary. Shaun Weston looks at the role of banker apathy.

We come face to face with shoddy workmanship every day, from the water-stained ceiling in your home, to the bad attitude you got from the bus driver this morning. Perhaps your burger was simply thrown together by a bored employee, or your new TV decided to conk out. As further evidence, I wrote about my experience with Apple Music recently.

The source of shoddy workmanship has many faces. It can be rooted in laziness, apathy, a lack of integrity, ego, poor leadership, insecurity, or poor qualifications. Whatever the root cause of the issue, the result remains the same. I suspect that a number of these possibilities could be used to describe why many banks and other financial institutions have found it so difficult to change.

 The lazy banker: ‘Do I have to change now?’

 The apathetic banker: ‘I’m not interested in changing.’

 The banker without integrity: ‘Let’s fool people into thinking we’ve changed.’

 The egocentric banker: ‘I don’t need to change.’

 The poor leader: ‘I suspect we could perhaps change.’

 The insecure banker: ‘I’m afraid to change.’

 The poorly qualified banker: ‘I don’t know what to do.’

I mentioned the Backbase-Efma report1 in my last post, and how FIs need to understand how customers use their mobile devices. You can open this umbrella even wider and see how many FIs are guilty of not seeing the much bigger picture: that change is happening with or without them. Therefore, apathy and its ilk just will not suffice. We can argue until the cows come home about whether branches will exist in 10 years’ time, or whether robo-advisors will take over the world, yet the best discussion around the board table right now should involve adaptation.

Someone should endorse that change is inevitable, and pose the question, ‘Are we fit to manage this change?’. Structure should be scrutinized, personnel should be assessed, and strategy should be pulled apart and put under the microscope. Not doing so will have consequences on your bottom line, on your business longevity, on your reputation, and on the people that work for you.

The report mentioned above was based on a survey of more than 100 C-level bankers, and further interviews with 15 key influencers. These guys were asked ‘What does your bank see as the biggest benefit of digitization?’ and the responses varied, from reducing costs (18%) to generating revenue (24%). The largest percentage of respondents said that they would become more customer-centric (40%), which is a good sign. Many startups have succeeded by taking a more customer-centric approach.

The apathetic banker in that board meeting may not necessarily see that becoming a ‘digital bank’ will be beneficial. Yet, they have to, because it’s important to regain control of your own destiny when it comes to managing transition. Don’t become a prisoner of your own apathy, nor of your ego, nor of your ignorance. There are people and organizations who will help you manage change if your heart is in it, and if you show willing, and are able to communicate that to your whole business.

Shoddy workmanship is rife, but a financial institution that’s invested in playing a part in this era of digitization can avoid reputational damage, and possibly beat the industry disrupters at their own game.

1. Download ‘Omni-channel banking: The digital transformation roadmap

Main image: Antony Theobald, CC0

About the author

Shaun Weston

Shaun Weston is Senior Editor of BankNXT and Backbase, and a creative content provider specialising in digital projects, marketing and social media. He has worked with businesses that focus on editorial strategy for online or print, consumer or B2B, and his work includes The Economist, SAS, Oracle, Future Publishing, FoodBev.com and Backbase.

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