Technology will transform the financial services industry again in the 2020s. What are the game-changing moves you should be making now? And what’s the one big thing that won’t change? Firms that stay ahead of the game and focus on their technology have a lot to gain.

Over the last ten years new technologies have revolutionised the way we live and work. Today we can do things faster, easier and better than we could ever have imagined ten years ago.

The exciting thing about technology is that it never stops moving forward. So what’s going to shape the new decade we’ve just started? We asked some of our experts for their top predictions.

Everyone will be on blockchain

Blockchain was one of the most-hyped yet least-understood technology of the last decade. It’s not hard to see why.

Data is a critical asset for any financial services business. Manage and use it properly and you can transform your performance. But that rarely happens. Worries about data quality, accuracy and security get in the way.

Blockchain introduces a game-changing way to gather, protect and use data, allowing it to be shared but not copied or changed. Yet how it actually works can sound impossibly complex, even to techie people.

Over the next few years, as more people experience the benefits of using blockchain, the business value will outweigh any doubts about whether to invest in the technology. Adoption will take off.

Already, 60 percent of CIOs expect to make some kind of blockchain deployment in the next three years, according to a recent Gartner survey.

Andrew Todd, our chief technology officer, is passionate about blockchain’s ability to drive better efficiency, better user experiences, and better processes. To help our clients get those benefits, we recently bought blockchain communications provider, BC Gateways. So, watch this space.

Voice technology will make engagement a conversation

The financial services industry desperately needs to improve the experience it gives to customers. Over the next decade we’ll see a revolution in the way people share data, insights and expertise with their clients.

Conversational interfaces like voice and chat bots will become everyday technologies, says Aaron Knowles, our global product executive. “Other sectors are already using voice to create customer experiences that are faster and more natural and in real-time. Financial services need to focus here now,” says Aaron.

The foundations are being laid for voice adoption in the industry. Client portals and mobile trading are the natural homes for this technology. Eventually it will be used in more complex cases.

Aaron Knowles

API will take centre stage

To get the best value for their technology investments, financial firms must be able to deliver a high-quality experience through every service channel. That’s why the wider use of APIs (or application programming interface) will continue to accelerate as a trend in the years ahead.

With APIs, different software products can talk to each other easily. This results in better solutions and better outcomes, like faster data flow for businesses and end users

“Businesses should be thinking with an API-first mindset,” says Andrew Walsh, our CEO. “How can APIs elevate the user experience? That’s the key question.”

Given that many websites are not even mobile friendly, financial services businesses must make catching up a priority. Those that don’t deliver will become irrelevant.

Andrew Walsh

The demand for strategic partnerships will increase

People in our industry aren’t short of technology options. A lot of choice is great for the market, but it also means more decisions, and more complexity.

We recently surveyed senior industry people on this point. Over three quarters felt they’d invested in the right technology, but two thirds said they were dissatisfied with how effectively that technology was being used.

Why the dissatisfaction? It’s not always the technology’s fault. It's often more about the adoption and integration. We expect to see more people looking for a longer-term, more strategic partnership with their technology provider to make sure they optimise what they have.

“As software becomes more open and available, businesses will need more knowledge about individual vendors, how they work, and who they can trust,” says Andrew Todd, our CTO.

To serve their clients, businesses need to be more interconnected. That only works at scale if you know you can trust your key partners.

Andrew Todd

Businesses will need to be clearer about who is a partner and who is just a vendor; who they want to build a deep relationship with and who is just passing through.

“Ultimately, it's a question of who can bring you the expertise that helps you apply the right technology for your business?” says Andrew. “The sweet spot will be when great technology is coupled with a great partnership. Again, it all comes down to service and trust.”

Savings from automation will drive better performance

Automation can drive better performance at any financial services business. That’s been true for some time. In the years ahead we’ll see more firms working out how to take advantage of these benefits, so they can pull ahead of their competitors.

“Advice practices will be using more automation to streamline their processes and focus on high-value activity. That’s certainly where the industry is headed,” says Emily Chen, our product executive. “But it all comes down to whether your data quality and integration are good enough to rely on.”

Andrew Walsh, our CEO, adds: “Firms know that automation can cut costs across the financial services industry. The next challenge is to work out the smartest way to use those savings. Where, how and when should you invest them?”

“Will firms offer a more personalised service model, or should they use the savings to scale at reduced cost? These are key strategic choices.”

While new technologies come and go, there’s one thing that won’t change in the next decade. The big challenge will still be this: how do you use the right technologies, in the right ways, to keep driving better business performance? It’s surely a question that now has greater ramifications as businesses continue to manage the impact of the coronavirus. It is one the industry will surely rise to.