Dating apps and the battleground for the customer

  • By Christine St Anne

To compete in today and even tomorrow’s digital world, the wealth management sector must harness the concepts of ‘relevance’ and its “two close friends” ‘cut through’ and ‘desirability’.

Speaking at the recent AB+F/Randstad Leaders Lecture in September, BT Financial Group chief operating officer Andrew Walker (pictured), provided an insight into these concepts amid the backdrop of shifting consumer preferences and technology. In essence, financial services will have to compete harder in the digital age.

It’s well known that such consumer preferences are often shaped by technology businesses like Amazon and Facebook. However, in his speech, Walker spoke about “dynamic two-way marketplaces”.

These marketplaces ensured buyers and sellers knew exactly what they were getting, harnessed real time locations and gave users, what he described as “the flexibility of buying an option for the near term while also exploring other options”.

Walker of course was talking about the universe of dating apps from Tinder to Coffee Meets Bagel (the app that manages the data matching for you), Tindog (online dating for dog lovers), to Happn (matches based on profiles and geo-proximity).

“In discussing with friends, it led me to contemplate how quickly this type of technology, convenience and personalisation had become the ‘new norm’”. For Walker, this ‘new norm’ is where digital businesses use advanced combinations of machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI), real time geo-locations and big data to deliver a product that the users not only want but as Walker highlights “actively seek out”.

Together with competing for customer engagement with other channels including social media and online shopping, Walker adds that “the great challenge for financial services is that behaviours and emotional drivers of the real world, all directly transfer to the digital age and are exacerbated”.  

Wizardry combination

So what is the future outlook for wealth management and customer engagement?

For Walker, the battleground for the customer is at the service and experience layer that is a “wizardry combination” of cloud and AI and other innovations.

“The deepening of relationship through digital engagement requires a longer and some would argue purer focus on service value. This is particularly true in financial services where we cannot compete on ‘desirability’ and so are left with ‘cut-through’ and ‘relevance’ to play with.”

He admits that this focus on service is challenging for businesses in wealth management. For Walker, relevance is about ensuring deeper customer relationships through frictionless processes which result in much better business outcomes.

These outcomes are “based on there simply being no reason for a customer to do anything other than use your products because they are so seamlessly woven into the service layer and one that is also transparent and is in the customers best interest – ‘cut through’.

“This is one of the core principles of Westpac’s Service Revolution and I can tell you it is certainly the right strategy for today and with equal certainty one of the most exciting yet challenging transformations I have seen in my 17 years in financial services.”

The AB+F October edition includes the full report of the AB+F/Randstad Leaders Lecture with Andrew Walker