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The AESC and BlueSteps recently had the opportunity to speak with a group of AESC member executive search consultants who specialize in placing executives in the financial services sector. During the interviews, each consultant provided enlightening information about numerous issues in the sector including the impact of digital transformation.

How has digital transformation impacted the financial services sector?

Financial Services TrendsSerina Wong (Korn Ferry, Hong Kong): This is a global trend but is becoming more and more relevant in Asia. The effect of technology on the financial services industry is substantial. For example, more trades are executed online every day. The leaders in the business have to carefully manage digital transformation from two aspects: the customer needs and cybercrime. Adaptability is crucial to success for banks in Asia, but equally, security and reliability play a critical part from the client point of view.

Tim Sheffield (Sheffield Haworth, UK): Technology is driving change and we see this continuing to influence our client’s corporate strategy. Regulators are pushing financial services companies into a more transparent, electronic environment where human interaction becomes less involved with trade execution.
Ricardo Amatto (Amrop Panelli Motta Cabrera, Brazil): Digital transformation has boosted technology investments in most of the banks and B2C financial services companies worldwide. eWallet is already actively used in several countries; and as the number of phones with near field communications chips increases, mobile banking will take off on a larger scale.
In the region, we’re seeing a huge exponential growing curve in mobile banking, mobile payments and e-commerce. According to an E-Marketer study, by the end of 2012, Brazil ranked in the 7th position worldwide, with some 24 million online buyers. Today, it is already ranked in the 5th position and the curve is steepening.
As the payments value chain shifts to a new reality, banks, acquirers and other players such as telecom companies and even credit card brands have been investing in digital platforms and are still trying to find out the best business models for these niches. This means new firms, new positions in the market and, of course, new opportunities.
Pat Prout (The Prout Group, USA): Digital transformation has a huge impact on the financial services sector as firms try to determine how to serve and retain the various segments of the consumer sector that are differentiating themselves via the channels through which they want to be served. Consequently, banks will have to hold on to their brick and mortar branches while developing mobile technology/social media channels. Leaders in the financial services industry are recognizing that they will need all these various forms of distribution channels which will create some additional overhead expenses.

Have any new functional roles emerged due to digital transformation in the financial services sector?

Serina Wong (Korn Ferry, Hong Kong): It is not so much that there are new roles but that existing roles are developing/modifying as technology advances and simultaneously becomes ever more integrated into financial services. For instance, the role of CMO now encompasses a much broader scope than it did a decade ago.
Tim Sheffield (Sheffield Haworth, UK): The emergence of e-solutions and digital marketing requires a different skill set in today’s market. Marketing roles have become more analytical and less creative than before. I believe leaders of today need to rapidly upskill their digital awareness.
Ricardo Amatto (Amrop Panelli Motta Cabrera, Brazil): New roles have certainly emerged. One of them is the user experience executive, for example, who is focused in researching and truly understanding user needs, aiming to improve digital interactions and enhancing engagement and loyalty with a certain company. Digital marketing executives are also very in demand lately.
Pat Prout (The Prout Group, USA): Emerging functional roles will occur but I have not yet observed the creation of new functional roles in financial services to accommodate the multiplicity of distribution channels. Certainly at the board level and C-suite, there should be a board member and a C-suite executive focusing on digital transformation.


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