Salesforce, the global leader in CRM, has released its Trends in Financial Services report which shows how financial services institutions struggle to keep up with the pace of change driven by the global pandemic. 

An analysis of two waves of survey data fielded in 2019 and 2020 shows that the customer experience suffered in response, leading organisations to reshuffle their priorities and drive competitive advantage with new technologies. 

“The COVID-19 crisis exposed cracks in many financial services providers’ digital foundations – and customers have taken notice. Our Trends in Financial Services Report reveals how global financial services institutions are addressing the customer experience gap, and how new technologies like autonomous finance can help,” says Namer Aljazrawi, Global Head of Strategy & Operations, Financial Services at Salesforce.

Salesforce Research surveyed nearly 2,800 global leaders in insurance, retail banking and wealth management across North America, Latin America, Europe, and Asia Pacific – immediately preceding the pandemic, and again nearly a year later. Combined, these two studies provide a unique perspective into the financial services industry’s evolution and what it now takes to succeed, uncovering the following insights: 

Financial institutions reshuffle priorities amid a crisis
In the wake of the pandemic, financial services institutions (FSIs) completely reshuffled their priorities, with implementing new technology becoming the #1 priority in 2020 from #2 in 2019, and improving customer experience dropping to #5 in 2020 from #1 priority in 2019. 

As priorities changed, so too did customer satisfaction. A global look at customer satisfaction shows major gaps: Only 27% of global customers describe FSIs as completely customer-centric. Even fewer, 23% of global customers believe FSIs handled the crisis as best as they could have, as reflected in the recently released State of the Connected Customer report.

Achieving growth objectives at scale requires intelligent automation
As personalised, on-demand experiences become the norm across other verticals, customer demands for improved financial experiences are spurring change in the industry. Salesforce’s 2020 survey found that 89 percent of financial services leaders believe that the first financial services companies to deploy autonomous finance will gain significant competitive advantage.**  

The reported customer benefits of autonomous finance directly address experience shortfalls exacerbated by the pandemic. Six in 10 FSIs consider better personalisation, a top benefit of implementing the new capability. 

Methodology
Data in this report is from a double-blind survey conducted in two waves. The first was fielded from November 12 through December 12, 2019 that generated responses from 1,400 leaders in insurance, retail banking, and wealth management across North America, Latin America, Europe, and Asia Pacific regions. The second wave was fielded from August 21 through September 21, 2020 that generated responses from 1,360 leaders in the same sectors and geographies. All respondents are third-party panelists (not limited to Salesforce
customers). Due to rounding, not all percentage totals in this report equal 100%. All comparisons are made from unrounded numbers. Countries surveyed include Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nordics, Spain and UK. Cultural bias impacts survey results.

** Autonomous Finance is defined by Forrester Research as algorithm-driven financial services that make decisions or take action on a customer’s behalf (Introducing Autonomous Finance,” Forrester Research, August 2019)