May 7 by Cory Haynes
Five Years Ago Retailers, Movie Studios, Video Game Companies never thought about Amazon as threat…think again.
Of late there is a lot of news about the US Postal Service being railroaded by Amazon. A few months ago, it was the closing of Toys ‘R’ Us, which was also touted as another victim of Amazon. Poor Jeff Bezos, well not actually poor, as he is now the richest man in world as estimated by Forbes Magazine. The missing story line is how did these monoliths get steamrolled by Amazon. What was did Amazon do so right? Or what did they do that was so wrong?
Financial Services: More than Just Paper and Coins
According to Harvard Business Review, “Customers who had the best past experiences spend 140% more compared to those who had the poorest past experience.“ Brands can create a stickiness if they create an experience that’s easy and woven into our behavioral psyche. A few decades ago it was the well documented Nordstrom and Lands’ End return policies, that would famously take back tires or worn shoes, respectively to engender fierce brand loyalty and an endearing trust of their customer experience.
Now financial services are faced with the difficult task of engendering loyalty. The most daunting task is creating an endearing nature to something so intangible and ethereal, like money which is only a means to an end, the accumulation of wealth is really about what you can do with the wealth, not the tactile stacking of paper or coins.
It is that very opportunity that Financial services, especially the retirement services industry, that has a real opportunity to begin to create a human experience around the accumulation of wealth that transcends your “magic number for retirement” but bridges your wealth with your aspirations, missions and causes. Wealth feeds the seedling idea into bountiful fruits. People would be more likely to invest sooner and at a higher rate if they could visualize daily what their financial discipline and dedication could yield.
This is the where Amazon and other digital disruptors, such as Uber, Airbnb have moved beyond the transaction into the lifestyle. For Uber, it’s about experiencing a concert with friends, its more than getting a ride. For Airbnb it’s about the experience of traveling to Goa, touring the local Portuguese inspired beach towns and spending a day with a yogi, not just than booking a sea-side condo. For Amazon, at the click of a button to you can gift yourself with something as mundane as a spatula to something more exotic, like a chocolate diamond bracelet. Who doesn’t love coming home to a package in a smiley-faced cardboard box or groceries ready to prepare for your family, followed by bonding at the dinner table. Capturing the essence of the human experience and the human psyche is what make these digital companies revolutionary. However, it does take a master’s degree in dark medieval magic or overly sophisticated algorithms exclusive to digital native companies to compete with the likes of Amazon.
Financial Services: The Human Experience
Financial Services has a similar challenge in bringing the human experience to banking or retirement. The outcome of every dollar I save can help establish an inheritance for my great-grandchildren, fund a school I want to build in a village in Botswana or fund the mission for equal access to STEAM in San Francisco Bay Area urban schools. With these goals in place and visually present in my day-to-day life, the discipline of saving becomes real. Empowering financial fiduciaries with access to retirement plans that tell a goal-based narrative could be transformative. Saying that I need to retire with $5MM in the bank is not as meaningful as saying that I can build 3 more schools when I retire, if I invest 10% more and cut my monthly spending by 15%. The asset manager that equips their financial advisors with stories and plans that cement their goals in reality, is the asset manager that wins more business, because its advisers will win more business, thus engendering more brand loyally and fierce advocacy for the brand, and thus avoiding being steamrolled by Amazon and the tech firms that “wake up” every day investing in technology to disrupt financial services.
The advantage of established banks, insurers, and asset managers is that you already have a loyal and profitable customer base. So instead of spending a $100M per year in customer acquisition they can make a significantly smaller investment, with a higher return in an omni-channel customer experience and digital transformation in the middle office. According to Marketing Metrics, “The probability of selling to a new prospect is 5-20%. The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70%. “Thus offering existing customers tailored services, prices and offers, could only come from a firm that already has a relationship and “knows them”. Companies like Apttus empower the top 50 financial services firms to revolutionize their Middle Office Platform™ to address these challenges and digitize their business models. Learn more at https://apttus.com/finserv.