Open Banking: The calm before the storm

The financial service industry is on the brink of unprecedented change. Not since the 80’s and the advent of widespread computer-based trading has a shift been so fundamental.

Again, developing technologies are an agent of change along with customers’ shifting expectations. But today the radically reshaped regulatory environment of Open Banking is pushing us to the tipping point.

It’s an existential threat for current players big and small. Digitally driven challengers, with no back books or quarterly profit expectations to encumber them, are looking to insert themselves into a space between customer and provider. Banks, mutuals, insurers and funds finding themselves as utilities; no relationship, just commodity supply.

But while this disruption is fundamental for the financial service industry, it is setting a familiarly old-fashioned marketing challenge. Insurers, investment houses, mutuals and especially retail banks are facing an elemental question:

“How do we address the differing needs of the market, in the face of deregulation and specialist challengers?”

It’s a challenge faced for decades in FMCG markets by the likes of Unilever, P&G and J&J. Not to mention across service categories like telecoms, broadband and media.


To this familiar challenge is a familiarly simple answer:

1 / Know what people want

All of them, in all their different ways. How do they behave day to day? What drives that behaviour? What is it that they need, want or believe that affects the choices they make (or don’t make).

It’s important to factor in what they aren’t getting. What makes them frustrated? Where are they under-served by providers today?

2 / Decide where to target resources

Pick what you can and want to address. Map the prevalence and importance of needs, wants, beliefs and tensions. Identify people aligned on mindset with requirements you can meet. Make these your design targets. Have multiple targets and address them differently.

3 / Build ways to deliver to your target’s needs

Be focused only on your design targets, don’t be distracted. Address their specific tensions and needs with a coherent suite of OB driven, digitally delivered products, services and back office processes.

Build a coherent portfolio of mobile first products and services. Address the different modalities and frustrations across everyday money management, home buying, savings and investments.

Make sure they really deliver. You win by delivering to the needs of each of your targets better than others. A one-size fits-all approach simply won’t work anymore.

This is, of course, all much easier set out than to actually address. In an Open Banking world to rise to the threat of emergent fintech challengers, incumbent financial service providers have a small window to get it right and that time is right now.

The first step is to understand what people really do, really want and what doesn’t work well. Then there are choices to be made. If you’d like to learn more about how we are helping our clients win in this space get in touch.

You can read our Open Banking White Paper here, co-published with The App Business: