Banks and insurers have always faced change, but the massive scale and rapid pace of the change they are going through today demands that they build a professional change capability. In this series of blog posts, I’ll explore how financial services organizations can develop the enterprise-wide change capability they need to thrive in a world of unprecedented technology, regulatory and social change.

Change in the industry today is dramatic and widespread. According to the Accenture Technology Vision for 2016, 87 percent of financial executives expect technology to accelerate rapidly or at an unprecedented rate. The regulatory burden, too, is growing in scale and complexity. For example, Basel I was just 30 pages; Basel III is a 616-page tome.

Also driving change in the financial services industry is the way customers’ expectations are growing and their behaviors are changing as they benchmark financial services against leading digital customer experiences. According to Accenture research, 40 percent of 18 to 34-year-olds say they would probably switch to Google if it launched a bank, for example.

Though most banks and insurers have successfully delivered smaller projects and technology changes throughout the years, their track record of transformational change is mixed. Yet transformational change is precisely the core competence that they must master against the backdrop of digital disruption, always-on consumers, growing regulatory pressure and an evolving workforce.

The convergence of three issues means it is more important than ever for financial services companies to start to invest in professionalizing change:

  • There is more transformational change than ever before. This sort of change alters the fabric of the business, changing the culture, the business model and how the organization serves its customers. Transformational change is inherently multi-disciplinary and complex.
  • Timescales for transformation have been compressed dramatically. Programs are no longer allowed to run for many years without delivering tangible business benefits, and there is a shift to more agile delivery.
  • The available funding for change is constrained and dominated by mandatory programs. So financial services organizations now need to do more with less, delivering change at lower cost and with greater success rates.

Professionalizing change capability is a challenging journey that takes time. It’s also a lot like changing the wheels on a moving car – change programs and business operations do not stop while one is improving one’s change capability.

Our preferred approach to developing change capability focuses on the practical application of new capabilities, methods and tools inside pilot programs as part of a ‘do-learn-do’ cycle. In my next post, I’ll look at how to get started on this journey by prioritizing change capabilities.

To learn more, download Professionalizing change in financial services.

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