The better the question. The better the answer. The better the world works.

How both banks and customers can seize the upside of disruption

Instead of shying away from disruption, one bank decided to embrace its benefits from the inside out.

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The better the question

How are traditional banks keeping pace with digitization?

Heavy investment in IT can quickly lose value without an organization-wide strategic vision.

Disruption of the banking sector has gathered pace in recent years. In an effort to keep up, it is estimated that banks’ IT investment will reach US$309 billion globally by 2022.

This considerable outlay will only be effective if banks have a clear, strategic vision of how to leave behind legacy operating models. In their place, banks must move toward developing digitally advanced products and customer engagement practices – the kind that seamlessly integrate with people’s connected lives.

Amid constant technological change and relentless competition from the FinTech sector, traditional banks are reassessing their value. More than anything, FinTech competitors have demonstrated how feasible it is to overturn the traditional banking model in favor of one better suited to present-day customer needs.

Such disruption has created a new relationship between customers and banks, with customers increasingly looking for a more digitized approach from banks.

To seize this opportunity, one major global bank took the decision to adopt a different approach to designing and building new products. One that truly captured the voice of the customer.  

The vision and purpose of this approach has been to change the bank from within. To launch a mobile-first approach. To focus on constantly innovating through creating new, disruptive business models.

This meant creating a bespoke FinTech organization built within the bank itself.

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The better the answer

Moving from legacy architecture to service-based models

Moving to a services-based architecture meant partnering on the transformation end-to-end.

From an early stage, the new FinTech unit understood that to put this pioneering approach into practice, they would need to partner with external experts.

EY was initially brought in to help define the technology services required to move the bank from monolith to services-based architecture. But as the relationship has grown and evolved, we have also helped the FinTech unit accelerate digital product delivery and improve customer experience.

Within this expanded remit, we leveraged a wide range of talent, incorporating new services and subject-matter experts. This multi-disciplinary team includes talent  from our financial services digital practice, as well as subject matter experts across cybersecurityriskcompliance, and  wealth management.

Team members have been hand-selected to work on this client because they’re creative, they’re determined and they’re versatile – like a Swiss Army knife of talent.

In practice, our work has focused primarily on product management and strategy, and business strategy and operations.

To this end, EY has supported the FinTech unit’s primary objective – to foster employee and customer participation in the development of the bank’s digital banking and open banking solutions. This led to the creation and implementation of several successful initiatives:

Improving product delivery

We supported the FinTech unit end-to-end across its product lifecycles, from helping them develop the business case and initial strategy to product launch, product management, and beyond.

Our support stretched across many of the bank’s product lines and across its full portfolio of operations. This work included improving the customer experience through enhanced processes in areas such as account opening, robo-account opening, digital mobile banking, and open banking API.

Scaling up more than ten product lines, we worked through a number of steps to help confirm the right approach, so that – while still acting with a “fail-fast” start-up mentality – the FinTech division was able to continually improve its processes and efficiency. This included:

  • Outlining project objectives, business case and acceptance criteria prior to launch
  • Developing a deeper understanding of customers, businesses and evolving market trends, to determine the right set of features to answer customer needs
  • Facilitating multidisciplinary teams — business, design, engineering, marketing and governance teams — to build and launch features aligned with the product roadmap
  • Acting as the voice of the customer by identifying problems, formulating hypotheses, experimenting and continually gathering feedback to improve product offerings
  • Prioritizing a features backlog, and owning the product roadmap
  • Helping deliver products to market
  • Communicating product value to customers through marketing, communications, training and customer support
  • Continuously tracking product performance through metrics and KPIs to ensure the strategy continues to effectively meet objectives

To expedite delivery, we brought in dedicated EY customer research and design strategy teams and an integrated, co-located risk and governance team.

Building a global open banking strategy

Having initially worked on the bank’s messaging and communications around the importance of open banking, the EY team then worked to develop the bank’s next generation application programming interfaces (APIs).

The team worked as product managers on several key APIs that were developed in the open banking proposition, helping to set the standard of how APIs are delivered for customer-first and partner-agnostic products.

As a result of this successful partnership, a playbook of best practices was rolled out across the bank as a way to mobilize global teams on how effective end-to-end partnerships should work.

Design thinking sessions and a global roadmap

To focus on a key customer problem and align the needs of internal teams across the bank, we hosted a number of workshops with the bank’s staff in both Asia and the US. The aim was to bring together different teams to help them develop a single roadmap for technology, data analytics, customer research, and the FinTech unit.

Within these workshops, our main role was that of a connector between the bank’s team members, highlighting the FinTech unit’s design-thinking and product management methods to the bank’s teams in both Asia and the US.

Customer experience was a key theme of these workshops, allowing the bank to re-explore one of the original objectives behind improving its technological capabilities: to capture the voice of the customer.

By hosting offsite team building days, our teams helped to facilitate dialogue between the bank’s teams, asking: 

  • What does customer experience mean in a digitized world?
  • In order to serve customers today, what are the key capabilities needed by the bank?
  • How does the bank go about developing such capabilities, specifically in the digital and product management design space?

Designing digital to physical experiences

We also helped design and build a digitally interactive, physical manifestation of the FinTech unit’s customer app experience in one branch. Over the course of five days, customers were able to communicate how they felt about their finances in person, focusing on their problems and how they could be improved. EY user experience professionals were present to facilitate such dialogue.

The initiative was widely recognized within the wider financial services industry, with EY and our client winning a number of awards for its success.

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The better the world works

Self-disrupting to meet customers’ changing needs

Banks that embrace disruption have a greater chance to secure lasting, future customer relationships.

The success of the independent FinTech unit and its constructive impact on the bank’s capabilities demonstrates how – through collaboration with EY – a large, traditional bank can embrace disruption to deliver a superior customer experience, while benefitting internally.

Collaboration is one of the most valuable ways in which banks can build an agile, digitally advanced organization that reduces costs. By acting as a trusted, talented partner and serving as a connector – of ideas and people, and right across the bank’s services-based architecture – EY has given the bank greater confidence in meeting its customers’ evolving needs and expectations.

In an ever-changing, digital environment, the partnership acts as a valuable example that the wider banking industry can follow.

There are some significant changes that every traditional bank can implement. Those that focus on customer needs and dedicating resources to innovation, while using a combination of buying, building and partnering can ensure access to the right capabilities and maximize flexibility.

Banks that are scrambling to survive in an increasingly digitized environment must view disruption as an opportunity to phase out legacy systems in favor of new operating models. These new models will empower banks to form an entirely new customer relationship from the inside out, by accurately capturing and representing the voice of the customer.