The future of financial services

Securing your tomorrow, today.

What is the future of financial services?

In contrast to the global financial crisis (GFC), COVID-19 triggered initial impacts in the real economy and will increasingly manifest itself in a second stage throughout the financial sector. The lockdowns and social-distancing measures imposed by governments around the globe to flatten the infection curves have caused significant damage to many industries, all of which are served by financial institutions. Compared to all previous crises—including the GFC, the oil-price shocks of the 1970s or even the Great Depression of the 1930s—COVID-19 will likely have the most substantial impact on the global economy, with a one-year reduction in worldwide GDP of more than 6%. Financial services firms need to consider 7 macro trends to properly plan for the future.

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Securing your tomorrow, today.

The future of financial services

Macro trends that matter and their impact in a post–COVID-19 world

As we shift our attention to the future, it is important to note that although COVID-19 presents significant challenges, other fundamental factors such as geopolitical tensions and evolving regulatory regimes will shape financial institutions significantly in the mid- to long-term. We don’t have all of the answers, but there is a set of macro trends that financial institution leadership teams need to understand in order to properly plan for their future:

Low interest rates will continue wreaking havoc on margins and business models.
The COVID-19 recession and asset impairments will reduce risk-bearing capacity for regulated industries to support the real economy as it enters the recovery stage over the next year.
Alternative providers of capital are set to become an even more important part of the global financial system.
COVID-19 will not delay—and may accelerate—the implementation of current and planned regulatory measures in many countries and regions.
Continued de-globalisation will further align the size of financial institutions to the GDP of their home countries while continued offshoring will increase operational risk across the industry.
Firms face unrelenting pressure to boost productivity through the digitisation of the business and the workforce.
The client-driven shift to a platform- and ecosystem-based financial services industry will create a new wave of disruption and disintermediation.

A new way to think about the future of your business

As you think about the future, it may be helpful to have a structured way to think about your organisation, operating platform and overall business. At PwC, as part of our Future of Industries project, we determined the four key categories and areas of focus to consider as you prepare for tomorrow.

Repair the damage

The damage from COVID-19 to the real economy—and, by extension, the financial system—is only beginning to manifest itself in various ways. This damage will require deliberative activities to repair financial institution balance sheets and reputations.

The following repair activities should be top priorities for financial institutions across the board:

  • Prepare for restructurings, workouts and wind-downs
  • Increase the proportion of fee-based revenue
  • Accelerate 'trust-building' activities
  • Create new business capacity

Rethink the organisation

Many of the questions about organisational structures and talent that existed before COVID-19—the efficacy of remote working and the productivity of agile teams—have been answered. These and related tools and approaches are now being deployed, and are succeeding, on a massive global scale.­

Rethinking the organisation requires a focus on the following priorities:­

  • Adopt a modern management approach
  • Embrace new ways of working and digital upskilling:
  • Crowdsource talent and innovation
  • Redesign the customer journey and strategy

Reconfigure the business and operating platform

Along with the repair and rethink activities, many financial services institutions will need to reconfigure the business and operating platform, in some cases making profound changes in order to succeed in the future. To be sure, the post-GFC changes were also profound, as the industry grappled with increased regulatory costs by selling businesses, reducing workforces, increasing offshoring and taking many other important actions. The COVID-19 crisis is only accelerating trends well underway in each sector and underscores how much work remains to be done.

There are myriad reconfigure activities, but for purposes of brevity, we will highlight the critical areas:

  • Double down on cost reduction, digitisation and reshaping the change portfolio
  • Increase cloud adoption and the use of emerging technologies
  • Use M&A to bolster strategic position
  • Partner with nonbank lenders and embrace change in market structures
  • Optimize business/product mix and align incentives

Report the results

As various stakeholders demand more transparency and accountability from financial institutions, the focus will increasingly turn to complete and accurate reporting in a range of areas, including financial performance, ESG, regulatory compliance and the like. In addition, it will be critical not to miss perhaps the most important attribute of any successful financial institution in the future: being able to articulate its unique culture, story and value to society.

  • ESG
  • State aid
  • Accounting standards
  • Regulatory
  • Shareholders
  • Society
  • Taxes

Contact us

Olwyn Alexander

Olwyn Alexander

Global Asset & Wealth Management Leader, Partner, PwC Ireland (Republic of)

Tel: +353 (0) 1 792 8719

Jim Bichard

Jim Bichard

Global Insurance Leader, Partner, PwC United Kingdom

Kurtis Babczenko

Kurtis Babczenko

Global Banking and Capital Markets Leader, and US Finance Transformation Leader, PwC United States

Craig  Hughes

Craig Hughes

Global Real Estate Leader, Partner, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0) 207 212 4183

Dr. Philipp Wackerbeck

Dr. Philipp Wackerbeck

Partner, Capital Planning, Capital Impact & Strategy, Strategy& Germany

Tel: +49 170 2238 659

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