The State of the Finance Industry: A COVID-19 Retrospective

December 14, 2020

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the question on every businessperson’s mind was “How will my industry be impacted?” and “Where will we be by the end of the year?” We are now living in the moment that we were all trying to get ahead of.

So, what does it look like now?

Fulcrum Digital’s industry thought-leaders have been servicing our clients through this disruption. For insight into the Finance industry, we turn to our Vice President of Financial Services, Conleth Cunningham.

Innovation boost will come to a ‘shop’ near you!

It is hard to write a blog these days without referring to the pandemic in some way, such is the size of the impact. It is likely we have still to see the full cost of this once-in-a-generation type of event.

The Finance / Fintech industry, along with so many others, have been greatly impacted. There have been opportunities for some such as Amazon and the digital banking platforms; Yet for others, the loss of business has been stark. Many businesses have had to adapt the workforce to work from home. The businesses who had invested heavily in the past for Business Continuity Plans (BCP), or office space optimisation, were able to transition relatively quickly and help keep the impact to the workforce to a minimum.

The Finance industry is one such business area that was able to reap the benefits through heavy investment in technology over the years and through initiatives of near-shoring and offshoring. Enforced working from home due to Covid-19 was almost an ‘extended BCP exercise’. Not only was disruption kept to a minimum, many in the Finance industry reported productivity gains, and significant cost savings. Many outside of Finance will say that Finance got lucky; inside the Finance industry, the opposite view holds and that organisations deserve to reap the benefits from the years of BCP investment.

It is not all sunshine though. While productivity has possibly increased, or at least not dropped for the most part in the Finance industry, there are several areas causing concerns, and one of the most obvious is people’s emotional well-being due to the huge switch-off from social and professional interaction in person.

There are also some less obvious areas reputedly impacted by working from home, including Innovation. Working from home reduces social and / or professional interaction, and this is identified as a key if not primary root cause for reducing innovation during this pandemic. The informal and traditional social interactions at work that enable sharing, and thus learning between colleagues, is pivotal to an organisation’s innovation and ensuing competitiveness. Without it they suffer.

Dropping innovation levels can have long term impacts on the competitiveness of organisations and those who invest most in this area will prosper the most coming out of the pandemic.

Innovation is grounded in social interaction – technology cannot perfectly replicate the dynamics of being together in the same room, thrashing out thoughts and suggestions, feeding off the energy, ideas and knowledge of others.

Organisations need to be aware of this

As such, the most successful organisations will adapt and increase their range of collaborative tools.Training resources to be aware of the impact will also help. Getting back together in the new normal, while maybe not as often as before the pandemic, will put even greater value on the time spent in the office. Social and professional interactions will be pivotal to foster innovation through sharing and brainstorming.

Will the Finance industry lead the way again (as with BCP), with investing in technology to help resources to innovate? It is highly likely, given the competitiveness that has always existed in the Finance industry.

So get ready for a new horizon, with a huge emphasis on nurturing, prioritising and developing innovation. The organisations that move fastest, and realise that innovation was impacted, will react most quickly and prosper the most.

one hundred and twenty euro bills on a table
Source: Adobe Stock

To speak with any of our experts about solutions to accelerate your business to keep pace with these new changes, contact us today!