Global Trends For the Financial Service Industry

As the economic crisis continues to unfold, the financial service industry faces serious challenges. The crisis is rooted in continuous imbalances, including long periods of low interest rates, rapidly rising asset prices, and massive credit and savings imbalances. The 2007 and 2008 Reports from the World Economic Forum predicted these changes as continuous risk to the market.

Earlier decades of exceptional growth and capitalism at its best have now caused the market to adapt to tighter credit, growing government intervention, slowing pace of globalization, and no economic growth. With increasing regulations in the United States and decreasing availability of credit, the industry faces a significant risk of stunted growth. The global recession is also affecting the financial sector because of capital markets and decreased aggregate demand, according to Max von Bismarck, Director and Head of Investor Industries.

This article will provide leaders, employees and investors in the financial service industry with five unique and timely trends to keep in the forefront of their growth strategies for the next five years. These five key trends will shape the post financial crisis in a holistic and systematic manner.

FIVE KEY TRENDS

GLOBAL BANKING. According to the World Bank, although many banks such as American Express, Citibank and JPMorgan Chase conduct business in multiple countries, they are relatively regional in the United States. In order to grow, the financial industry will have to infiltrate emerging markets. For companies that have a more aggressive growth strategy, the spread to emerging markets such as Africa and Asia presents unparalleled opportunities for profit and increased market share.

IT PLATFORM SHARING. Network World confirms that financial service firms’ business strategies must be altered for the new dynamics and intricacies of today’s market. Immediate access to information and integration along product lines and geography are a must for future success. With the need to supply information to a global market, firms must decrease cost. One cost effective initiative is the use of platform sharing; like cell phone companies that collaborate with local companies in order to decrease cost and increase access, financial firms can do the same.

E-BANKING. A special report from The Economist sees that with 3.5 billion people with cell phones and an expected 10-20% year over year growth, personal and business banking transactions are conducted through cell phones more and more. Thus, E-banking capability is quickly becoming an increasing requirement in order to compete in the marketplace. E-banking capabilities provide companies with essential flexibility and differentiation in the market through Internet-based service applications.

MOBILE MONEY. The increase of mobile phone usage in emerging markets makes mobile money a safe, low cost initiative for the financial sector. It is an easier way to transfer money to family and friends, money is sent, and payments and withdrawals can be made without ever going to a physical bank or payment center. M-Pesa, an early developer of mobile money, concluded that mobile money “has enormous social and economic benefits.”

SELF-SERVICE. Self-service and the customer should be a primary focus for firms in this new financial service world, according to IBM. AppViewXS is a self-service portal firms can purchase, so customers can check the status of their account and gain instant access to available services. Customer questions and concerns are addressed more quickly, states an IBM representative. This technology automates many processes; the result is that staff workload is reduced while representatives operate faster and more efficiently.

Financial service firms need to have sustainable, steady expansion in the emerging markets in order to grow in the future. Deloitte and Touche Research reports that financial service firms have not positioned themselves to capitalize on more geographically dispersed opportunities. More than 93 percent of the executives interviewed for this report acknowledged that their firms “are not operating in a globally integrated fashion.”

The same report states that financial firms need to invest away from veteran or mature markets and toward emerging markets because “by 2025, veteran markets will be rivaled by other markets with faster growing economies and increasingly sophisticated financial product appetites.” USA based firms can look toward Japanese and African markets for expansion opportunities. Kennedy Consulting analysts believe that the market will rebound from the global financial crisis in 2011, but there will not be any return to the robust levels prior to 2007 until much later in the decade; hopefully, the five key trends in this report will help the leaders, employees and investors in the financial service industry to look toward a robust sound future.

In addition to growth strategies, in the 2002 Journal of Business and Industrial Marketing, Henson and Wilson discuss the extreme changes that have occurred in the financial service industry and how many firms are trying to develop and execute successful strategies based on innovative technology and customers. Aside from the regular ups and downs of the financial world, technology and innovation will always prevail as the win-win for the financial service industry. Because online banking has become the norm for most customers, technology will be very important in these firms’ strategies.

With the customer at the center of most trends in financial service firms, creating new values for their current and potential clients beyond current expectations will be a top priority. The need for convenience mixed with technology makes mobile money a great initiative in the emerging as well as the developed markets. Many firms have speed pay, the ability to pay without swiping the card, as part of their credit card services. An embedded chip in the credit card enables payments to be made by putting the card close to the payment processor. Mobile money will be an expansion of payment and money transfers without the need for a card, the need to go to a physical bank, or to use Internet banking. Payments, transfers, deposits and withdrawals can be made with a cell phone.

The World Bank concurs that innovative technology and an increase in e-business strategies will lead to much lower costs and greater competition in financial services. Internet and related technologies, the World Bank affirms, are more than just new delivery channels; they are an inexpensive, different, and very effective way to provide the same services. Since financial service firms must grow organically, build customer loyalty, and accommodate the customers’ expanding needs for services and convenience, partnerships with new technology businesses will allow them to lower their expenses and be competitive.

Established firms such as Amex, Citibank, and others can partner with groups such as the wired tech savvy Google Alumni who are not averse to risk and who own fledgling technology businesses that are reshaping the industry with a new wave of innovative products, write Spencer Ante and Kimberly Weisul of Business Week. Mobile Money Ventures is one such fledgling company that is a provider on the forefront of alternative financial service products. Small companies such as these are able to provide well-known financial firms the wherewithal to open in emerging markets where there is a need for cooperation with other firms in order to attain then obtain the local customer base.

Today’s competition is fueled not just by profitable customers, but also by the firms that are the most efficient and cost effective. Procedural and cultural clash will result from expanding into unknown markets as seen by the history of Citibank in Asia Minor. But in the long run, tighter regulations, new technology and improved business processes will cause expanding in emerging markets not only to change the demographics of the clients (both geographically and core clients), but also to better the global economy and the future of the financial services industry. Keeping the previous trends at the forefront of managers’ strategic plans, financial firms will rebound bigger and better than ever.

How Quality Can Dictate Price in the Service Industry

In the service industry, one business basically provides the same service as another business. Take the valet business for example, they all take your vehicle and move it to a central location until you return, when the valet retrieves your vehicle and brings it back for you. This is the basic process for all valet services. So what can set one company apart from another? Simply stated, it is quality. It is the extras that they put into the service that separates one company from their competition.

Every service industry must understand what they can do for their customer that is above and beyond the basic service. This becomes even more important when you want to sell your service not simply based on the service you offer but also by the extras. These extras give you the opportunity to sell your service at a higher price. These extras to the service truly cost nothing on a day to day basis but add value to your customer. Yes, there is the potential for extra expenses in training the staff to complete these added touches to the service but generally they are limited and more than pay for themselves over time. However, these extras cannot be something that is simply talked about, they must be present everyday in the service. Not only will your current customers be looking for this higher level of service, your service can and will act as a form of advertising your service. This is truly how you dictate your price in the service industry. Offer added value to the basic service, provide those added values and let potential customers see the service in action.

In order to get to a point where you have control over pricing there are a few things you need to do. First, understand what your basic service is. This may seem like a simple thing but it is essential in determining what your extras are and what you can sell as extras. Second, what does your competition offer in terms of added value to their services? This is true in a business whether it be service, manufacturing or retail, you must know your competition. Third, really spend time determining what value added aspects you can provide in order to differentiate your company. Keep in mind that with the ever changing world of technology, this may be every changing as well.

In the global market of today and with competition being at such high levels, you have to find ways to take your service business to a level that sets it apart. As stated in the beginning, anyone can offer the basics, it is the extras that will help your business thrive and grow.

Importance of a Quality Work Uniform in the Service Industry

No matter what type of service industry you own or manage, presenting a professional workforce to the public is of the utmost importance to the overall image of your company. Choosing a work uniform that is appropriate and appealing will help your workers appear more professional to your consumers. Plus, work uniforms help to promote and advertise your business effortlessly.

As the name suggests, the service industry is all about serving your customers. A professional and attractive work uniform is especially important when dealing with the public because it immediately identifies you as someone who is available to help. When employees wear an identifiable work uniform, they become instantly recognizable to consumers. This promotes a feeling of professionalism and fosters an environment of customer support.

We have all had the experience of wandering around a store looking for someone to help us, not sure who works there because the employees do not have a clear dress code. When customers walk into your store, your employees should be instantly recognizable. There should never been any confusion of who is and is not an employee in your establishment.

Service professionals who work in people’s homes, like electricians, plumbers, and repairmen, should always present themselves in a uniform that indicates the company that they work for. This practice enables homeowners to easily identify the worker when he or she comes to the home. Most people would not let in a stranger without a proper uniform. Plus, wearing an easily identifiable uniform makes you appear more professional and trustworthy.

There are so many options when choosing a uniform for your staff. Listed below are a few things that you should keep in mind when determining the best outfit for your employees.

Appropriate for the job: Your work clothes should be appropriate for the tasks that you must complete. For example, a service industry worker who may be crawling under houses to check piping will need comfortable, stain resistant clothes that will enable him to perform his job effectively. An employee selling high-end furniture may require a more upscale type of uniform. When choosing work attire for your employees, make sure that you select clothes that allow them to do their job comfortably.

Presentable to the public: You want to select work apparel that will present a professional image to the public. Include your business name on the shirts and choose colors that match your company logo. Be sure to select items that are wrinkle-free and easily laundered so that your employees look fresh and refined each day. Remember that they are promoting your company image to the world.

Comfortable: Keep in mind that these are the clothes that your employees will be wearing all day everyday while they wait on customers and perform their job. It is important that you choose fabrics that are comfortable no matter what the season. You may consider offering your employees a few choices in styles. For example, you may have a cold weather uniform to be worn in the winter months and a short sleeves version to wear when it is warm. Breathable fabrics like cotton are usually the most comfortable to wear all year long.

Presenting a professional appearance is essential to the success of your service-based business. For the most impact, choose a uniform that will benefit your employees as well as your bottom line.