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Outperform in an age of disruption

Outperform in an age of disruption

James P. Liddy, Partner and Chairman of KPMG's Global Financial Services practice, speaking about the key actions that financial services executives could be doing today for growth and success in the coming year and beyond.


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Darina Barrett, Partner, KPMG in Ireland

EMA Head of Asset Management

KPMG in Ireland


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Financial services executives are bullish about their company's growth prospects, with 81 percent of them voicing confidence in the short-term.

However, our survey of over 300 financial services CEOs also suggest that they realize their businesses are being disrupted, and are deeply concerned about geopolitical uncertainties and other top of mind worries, such as emerging technology, operational and strategic risks.

They have reason to be worried as the environment we operate in today is dramatically different even when compared to just a decade ago - technological change continues to pick up pace, customer demands and expectations are shifting rapidly, regulatory regimes and governance requirements are evolving and maturing. The good news is that many banks, insurers and asset managers are taking charge and investing into transforming their business for the future.

Time for action

Leading banks, insurers and asset managers are thinking deeply about what they want their business to look like in the future. Many are trying to understand the disruption and how to turn it into opportunities for growth; seeking ways to stay relevant to their customers and eschewing tradition to find new models and platforms for growth.

Across the business, financial institutions are automating processes to improve operational flexibility, attracting and retaining talent, and implementing programs to foster a truly entrepreneurial culture within their organizations.

New partners are also coming into view, particularly fintech startups that may offer new ideas and sharpen their relevance in the market. In some cases, this has led to dramatic reshaping of business portfolios of products and services.

Rather than basing their decisions on historic trends and gut feel, the leaders are listening carefully to the voice of their customers, and are using available data sources to get the right insights to deliver on their customers' wants, needs, desires and trends. As a result, they are becoming increasingly better at customer segmentation and targeting.

How to win in 2020

Based on my experience and conversations with leading financial services executives, there are three things that organizations should be doing today if they hope to survive and thrive in the future:


  1. Tackle disruption head-on
    They should be thinking carefully about the changes that are taking place in their markets and working inside and outside of the organization to understand how these trends will impact their business. The information can then be used to decide what they want to be in the future and to find ways to turn disruption into opportunity.
  2. Focus on innovation
    They should be finding every opportunity to embed innovation into their organization as a core competence and building innovation into their culture - setting the tone at the top, creating the right mood in the middle and generating buzz at the bottom. They should stop thinking of innovation as a discrete initiative and start thinking about it as an organizational imperative.
  3. Listen carefully to their customers
    They should be working with partners across the value chain to understand, interpret and act on their customers' wants, needs and desires. They need to continuously ask themselves how their decisions help them become more relevant to their customers in the future and challenge any decisions that do not support that goal.
    Those financial services organizations that are able to do these three things will have good reason to be bullish about their growth prospects over the next three years. Those that do not take disruption seriously, however, could be left behind questioning their relevance in an evolving marketplace. For them, the next three years may be very difficult indeed.

© 2019 KPMG, an Ireland partnership and a member firm of the KPMG network of independent member firms affiliated with KPMG International, a Swiss cooperative. All rights reserved.

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