New Financial World – a changing reality

The reverberations and rumblings from Great Recession, otherwise known as the Global Financial Crisis, will be felt for years to come. Who would have imagined that we would see the world so differently today compared to when the crisis began in 2008.

  • Boldness has been replaced by conservatism
  • Confidence has turned to concern
  • Trust in the financial system has turned to doubt
  • Expansion has given way to contraction
  • Easy credit has been replaced by tight credit
  • Care-free spending has been replaced by savings
  • Buyouts have been replaced by bailouts and the list goes on…

Amid the turmoil… one thing remains the same — Among every major change that the world has seen, there is one constant – the importance of people. In fact, the Wall Street Journal has reported that HR Executives Suddenly Get Hot because of the strategic importance to create engaged, productive staff in an era of continuous, on-going change.

The worst of the financial meltdown is probably behind us. It is time to rebuild. Moving forward, some of the strategic themes include:

  • Rebuilding the trust of key stakeholders in financial institutions – including clients, investors and staff
  • Retaining valued customers and winning customers from competitors
  • Strengthening the engagement and commitment of staff – making sure your people really care
  • Instead of trying to ʻmanageʼ change, learning how to ʻliveʼ change
  • Rethinking organizational values, policies, structure and practices for better innovation and greater ability to adapt
  • Identifying, recruiting, developing, motivating and keeping top talent – putting a pump in that leadership pipeline
  • Relentlessly improving productivity amid tighter margins

Opportunity knocks – Be true to customers by being true to your brand promise.

Notwithstanding the differing tough markets, regulations and compliance issues faced in the financial services industry today, we are constantly reminded that people are the underlying strength of any service-based industry. Yet, so few in the world have mastered excellence in this field. The global crisis has shown us very clearly how insufficient communication, inappropriately handled cost saving initiatives and the resulting stress and emotional reactions, can stifle organizations. The companies that will come out of the ʻGreat Recessionʼ the quickest will be those that focus on and invest in customer retention, building customer loyalty and building their brand through their people.

Itʼs a competitive world. Companies who expect to excel have recognized the need to:

  • Build market awareness and a competitive edge by building a distinctive brand
  • Create and nurture a culture of shared values and purpose
  • Build deeper and stronger relationships with customers through differentiated service and effective complaint handling
  • Be true to their customers by being true to their brand promise; they should bring their brand in life in every customer interaction
  • Be effective and efficient; they need to work not only harder, but also smarter
  • Retain and attract talented people through effective leadership
  • Encourage innovation of product and service offerings
  • Manage cultural integration between merging companies for high performance.

As with most things in life, this is of course easier said than done. It is critical for every organization in the financial services industry to make sense of the challenges and opportunities it faces, and positively influence its key performance indicators to ensure success.