Financial services firms have seen a dramatic shift in consumer behavior over the past decade as their customers have taken to digital channels. The next wave of change in financial services is nearly upon us, and banks and insurers will once again need to relook how they sell and provide services to their customers.

Over the next two blog posts, I’ll look at how emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) will change consumers’ expectations and behaviors over the next three to five years. I’ll also consider what this will mean for the salesforce.

From our work with clients and our research, we have identified six characteristics that will define the digital financial services customer of 2020:

Smarter thanks to algorithms:  The amount of digital data is doubling every year and algorithm-driven services such as Uber, Google Now and Siri use this data to help people navigate day to day life. Anyone who has a smartphone can tap into a wide world of data and powerful algorithms as they make everyday decisions, from which route to use to the airport to which banking account to choose.

Ready for VR/AR: Though these technologies have existed for years, the user experience has been lackluster to date. That is changing as app developers find ways to use cameras in smartphones to deliver compelling AR experiences and as affordable VR headsets like PlayStation VR, Oculus Rift and HTC Vive hit the market. Ikea, for example, has enjoyed some success with an AR shopping catalogue, while Apple named the AR game, Pokémon Go, as the most downloaded app of 2016.

Empowered by personal robots:  People are starting to entrust simple tasks to personal robots or bots. For example, the Talla prototype bot manages to-do lists on Slack and Sage’s Pegg allows users to track expenses and manage finances through Facebook Messenger and Slack. These bots are sure to become smarter and able to handle more complex tasks in the years to come.

Used to service on-demand: Sharing economy services such as Uber and Airbnb have made it easy for anyone to summon a personal cab or book accommodation online; platforms like Coursera mean anyone can access course material from Harvard or MIT. Consumers’ traditional trade-offs between quality, timeliness and affordability are starting to diminish.

Ready to share data with firms they trust: With digital fraud and data breaches on the rise, consumers are wary about personal data privacy and security. Yet they are also willing to share information with companies they trust in exchange for tangible benefits like personalized service or preferential pricing.

Accenture Financial Services’ Global Distribution & Marketing Consumer Survey for 2017 shows that 57 percent pf consumers are willing to share more personal data than they currently do with their insurer—but they expect added benefits in return.

Still social beings: Physical relationships are  still at the heart of our lives and of our purchasing behaviors. Financial services customers are turning increasingly to digital and mobile channels to research their options and request quotes. But many continue to value human advice and service.

My next post will look at what these trends mean for the salesforce and how financial services companies can get ready for them.

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