Practice Management Tech Trends

Financial Consumer Preferences Are Changing

Written by Mike Page

12 top takeaways from the Forrester Report

A new report produced by the research company, Forrester, into the changing preferences of financial services customers in Asia Pacific markets, reveals some valuable pointers for accounting firms in the U.S. that area looking to gain future competitive advantage.

The findings, based on the views of 14,900 online adults in Australia, metro mainland China, metro India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, make fascinating reading and will help accountants better understand their clients’ needs and successfully navigate the future.

The Top 12 Takeaways

  1. Digital financial services are mainstream and accelerating
  2. Consumers in these markets are some of the most advanced when it comes to digital engagement
  3. High levels of empowerment mean that customers prefer to interact with their financial services providers on digital channels over physical ones
  4. 73 percent of consumers believe they should be able to accomplish any financial task on a mobile device and weave digital through the entire customer experience
  5. Human interaction is still valued to deliver help when needed, but consumers expect world class experiences that are consistent across touch points
  6. 76% of consumers prefer digital channels for banking
  7. Consumers are more likely to engage with firms that prioritize helping them improve their financial well being
  8. Many customers trust payment firms and technology giants such as Google and Apple over traditional financial services providers to help them better manage their finances
  9. The agent’s grasp on life insurance is weakening as digital engagement surges and becomes the preferred post sales engagement channel across Asia Pacific with the exception of Singapore and Malaysia
  10. Between 40% and 60% of customers prefer digital engagement channels but often find insurers’ digital services lacking in basic areas including the ability to view policies, premiums, savings totals and rates of return
  11. Customers expect agents to be digitally savvy and believe it is important that they are equipped to engage them through digital channels
  12. A poor digital experience is given for those considering switching to digital only insurers within the next 2 years

The Future

A new cast of characters is building financial trust with established retail banking and life insurance providers facing competition from non-traditional players, digital-only players, eCommerce and payment providers and technology giants, including Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Samsung.

While banks are still the most trusted organizations, interestingly, Google and Apple are not far behind, in third and fourth place respectively. They are seen to be gaining market share by offering simple, convenient, and more personalized digital experiences.

This represents a real challenge for accountants in a region where consumers lead the demand for product and experience innovation and prefer digital channels such as online on a computer, on a mobile website or on an app on devices such as tablets and smartphones

Industry Change Set to Accelerate

The pace of industry change is about to accelerate, and the stakes are rising.

The report recommends that financial institutions should:

  • Become truly customer-led. Most financial institutions still struggle to truly understand and respond to their customers’ needs
  • Become customer obsessed and drive the culture through the organization
  • Weave digital through a strong omnichannel experience and grow customer loyalty
  • Transform IT to enable digital operational excellence and innovation. enable the digital operational excellence that underpins digital customer experiences
  • Develop an ability to rapidly experiment with and test new technologies such as AI, blockchain, and automation to fuel tech-driven innovation

Experimental Consumers Will Redefine the Financial Services Ecosystem

‘The Pulse of Financial Services Customers in Asia Pacific’ report finds that digital consumers in this region are more willing to experiment with new services and operating models than ever before. They are also highly savvy and skilful at finding the best deals and believe that finding a better financial provider can only help improve their financial well-being.

Implications for Accountants

The findings of this report put digital firmly at the center of consumers’ needs, and accounting firms that are looking for sustainable and long-term success will need to ensure their clients can accomplish any task relating to their finances on a mobile device. This can be achieved easily by utilizing a mobile communications platform that delivers engagement with clients on their smartphones and tablets 24/7 and connects clients to a single centralized location so they can have instant access to any financial information or documents, wherever they are.

This is an important ‘must have,’ and the accountancy profession can learn from the experiences of those in the insurance market that have embraced digital engagement channels but have not provided that all-important holistic view of a client’s financial affairs. A telling number of customers – between 40% and 60% – say that they find the service lacking because they are unable to get a complete view of their policies, premiums, savings totals and rates of return.

The report concludes that the empowered customers that are typical of this region will dynamically deconstruct their personal financial services ecosystems and reassemble them with newer and better players. The race is on and accountants that want to gain that all-important competitive advantage will need to ensure their own digital transformations are underway.

About the author

Mike Page

Mike Page is Head of Product Management and Customer Experience strategy at MyFirmsApp™, developers of the largest global App platform for accountants. As a qualified accountant himself, Mike appreciates the challenges faced by the profession in a world where always-on clients are demanding instant answers and he firmly believes that Apps can help put accountants at the heart of their clients’ mobile lives.

As App stacks and App Add on Communities grow, the role of MyFirmsApp as the leading App integrator for accountants will become increasingly critical. Mike's goal is to put an App in every accounting firm in the world.

1 Comment

  • Hi,

    Yes, people’s behavior is changing nowadays and they are adopting new technologies. Digital consumers in this region are more willing to experiment with new services and operating models than ever before.