[London, United Kingdom]— November 19, 2020 — Salesforce, the global leader in CRM, today 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 organizations 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 UK financial services institutions are addressing the customer experience gap, and how new technologies like autonomous finance can help,” said 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, including 196 respondents from the UK and Ireland, at two key junctures - 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: 

  • How health and economic crises are upending financial services’ priorities, exposing the cracks in digital foundations and a need to improve customer experiences (CX)
  • Growth strategies and tactics adopted by financial services institutions (FSIs)
  • The importance of innovations like autonomous finance — which Forrester defines as algorithm-driven financial services that make decisions or take action on a customer’s behalf - will enable financial services institutions to deliver superior customer experiences at scale, and drive entirely new value streams

New this year, the report features interactive data available in Tableau, highlighting the key findings by country and by financial sectors.

Here are the insights from local respondents in the UK and Ireland:

Financial Institutions Reshuffle Priorities Amid a Crisis

In the wake of the pandemic, UK & Irish financial services institutions completely reshuffled their priorities, with automating processes becoming the #1 priority in 2020 from #3 in 2019, and improving customer experience to #2 in 2020 from #4 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.*

Financial Services Providers Adopt New Tactics to Respond to Pandemic

Our research also included net-new questions in 2020 to uncover different tactics employed by financial services leaders in response to the crisis. In the UK and Ireland, 72% of FSIs agree that focusing on client financial well-being has grown in importance since the pandemic started. Similarly, 62% feel that expanding services is more important since the onset of COVID-19. However, considerably less than half of UK and Irish FSIs are taking concrete steps in response. Only 41% are investing in omnichannel service and 35% are emphasizing client financial wellness. 

Achieving Growth Objectives At Scale Requires Intelligent Automation

As personalized, on-demand experiences become the norm across other verticals, customer demands for improved financial experiences are spurring change in the industry. Our 2020 survey found that 86% of UK and Irish financial services leaders agree that autonomous finance will soon be critical to being a top performer in the financial services industry – up from 80% in 2019. Moreover, in 2020 90% of UK and Irish FSIs believe the first to deploy autonomous finance will gain a significant competitive advantage – up from 81% in 2019

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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.

*“State of the Connected Customer,” Salesforce Research, October 2020.

** 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)