Apple is accessible and works for everybody - how can financial services get to that?

Tech CEO Josh Guest on why we need to get out of the boardroom and get closer to customers.

Josh Guest is everything you might imagine a tech company CEO to be.

He can’t live without his smartwatch, has an iRobot to clean his floors and doesn’t use cash: “we don’t need it”.

Ultimately though, unlike certain other tech CEOs we won’t mention, he wants to use tech to make a lasting and positive impact on the world.

Since 2009, Transpire has been his vehicle to achieve this - a leading design and digital consultancy with a mission to be ‘bold’ and ‘curious’. They’ve designed and developed mobile, web, wearable and IoT applications for some of Australia’s most innovative businesses - including Telstra, ANZ, BUPA, Vodafone, Baker IDI and Virgin Australia.

Josh puts the company’s success down to a focus on ‘doing the right thing’ and its principle of weaving humanity into tech.

The stuff we build is going into an end customer’s hands and so we have 
a huge responsibility to get it right

“In the end, the stuff we build is going into an end customer’s hands and so we have a huge responsibility to get it right. We’re always thinking about the end-user and how they’re going to use the technology during their lives, no matter who they are. That’s definitely a big difference for us in the market.”

And, as Josh told the Upfront podcast, getting it right doesn’t always mean falling victim to the latest technology or fad.

"Sometimes the least exciting things can be life-changing. The idea of open banking, that’s been quite revolutionary."

“Financial services need to spend an enormous amount of time with the end-user and less in the boardroom”

“There are things that can go wrong if you don't bring the customer to the centre of the experience. If you just go ‘ooh, here's some cool technology, let's just put your bank balance on your Apple Watch, so it's there all the time’, I don't think many customers would say that that's something they really need or would want to have on their watch all the time.”

“Sometimes the least exciting things can be life-changing. The idea of open banking where I can now give permission to my financial services company to share my information with another company. That’s been quite revolutionary and I think it’s pretty cool. Open banking has been transformative here in Australia - just our industry has done a bad job at telling people about it.”

So what does he think financial services businesses need to do differently to deliver a better customer experience?

“Financial services need to spend an enormous amount of time with the end-user and less in the boardroom”. Financial services are incredibly smart and complex but they can be a bit of an echo chamber and not pay enough attention to the customer. Take lending, for example, it would be difficult for senior banking execs to understand what it’s like to get a loan. They aren’t going through the same experiences their customers are. Neo banks have the customer at the heart of every decision they make.”

Ah yes, the neo-banks. As Josh told the Upfront podcast, he’s a big fan of their approach.

“The first time I used a neo-bank, it was amazing. In Australia and a lot of other countries, if you want to open a bank account, you need to get in the car, drive to a branch, fill out some forms, wait a bunch of time and then eventually you'll get a bank account. N26 are based out of Germany. They had worked out that all you have to do is download the app on your phone. They got around the KYC (know your customer) checks by doing a video. Quick video call with an actual human. Hold up your passport. Hold up your ID. Have a conversation. They validate that you're a real person and then you've got an account. The KYC compliance has always been there, but the innovation is, ‘why can't we do that on video?’ I think the start-ups get it right. They think a bit differently.”

As someone who lives and breathes digital customer experiences, he must be quite hard to please. So what impresses him the most?

“It always goes back to Apple. What it’s like to unbox, how great it is when you’re setting it up. It’s accessible and works for everybody. How can financial services get to that?”

I think the start-ups get it right. They think a bit differently

What I love about financial services

I love it when financial services technology is advanced enough to get out of the way and enable me to do things in life without being a hindrance. I love that I don’t have to carry my wallet around or cash, I can just go and make a purchase with my watch. It’s like magic.

Josh Guest