The financial services industry has undergone dramatic change since 2007, when the sub-prime crisis was in its infancy and TARP, UDAP, and SWAPS meant little to most consumers. M+A activity, bankruptcies, the stock market, and government intervention/regulation have reshaped the landscape, with many financial services firms delivering their worst financial performances in decades. In response, firms are seeking to operate more efficiently, more creatively, more nimbly, and just plain smarter, while adapting to a re-shaped playing field. Companies that can rise to this challenge will achieve competitive advantage and meet the pressing demands of both customers and shareholders.
The changing political climate in Washington and Europe has resulted in a steady stream of new and proposed legislation that will influence the financial services industry for years to come. While banks and credit/debit card issuers bore the brunt of the initial reforms, regulatory changes are showing no signs of slowing. New rules governing 12b-1 fees and 2010’s financial reform bill provide evidence that the focus is broadening to include asset management and insurance firms, some of which were already impacted by health care reform legislation. Market gyrations have also reduced the level of trust that individuals have in financial services firms and the brokers/intermediaries that they work with. As the rules of the game change, so do the characteristics of effective strategies.
On a strategic level, global and regional consolidation enables financial services firms to achieve economies of scale and better serve an increasingly mobile, multinational clientele, although increased national regulation makes competing internationally more complex. On the more tactical front, firms need to cohesively manage multiple channels, while avoiding conflict and still making it eminently easy for the customer to find them. With Wi-Fi available everywhere from the corner coffee house, to moving planes, customers are connected to their financial service providers whenever and wherever they want to be. Companies need to make the right investments (and justify them) to allow them to quickly, accurately, easily, and securely service their customers irrespective of a customer’s technology of choice, to prevent others from establishing a competitive advantage.
To anticipate what the future holds and to deal more effectively with the current competitive environment, financial services companies must look beyond themselves for insights and validation. By identifying potential roadblocks and opportunities they can craft resilient strategies that allows them to grow, even in uncertain economic times. Fuld + Company’s Financial Services Practice has provided clients with this needed competitive intelligence insight and foresight for decades.
Sample Case Studies