Top Finance Execs Tell Us How the Pandemic Will Change the Industry
(Bloomberg Markets) -- The coronavirus pandemic and unprecedented economic lockdowns have changed a lot of things, including how people deal with money and investing. But which shifts will prove lasting? We asked some executives for their views on what aspects of the financial industry will never look the same again.
Founder and chief executive officer
CapWay Inc., a mobile bank focused on underbanked communities
It will forever change the way we handle cash. We have been expedited into what was an already coming cashless economy.
The inequality is only going to increase. If I am in a rural town in Mississippi and I’m going to the local grocery store, and they’re saying, “Hey, we’re not taking cash,” what am I supposed to do? I can’t go down the street and start a bank account.
Executive vice president overseeing surveillance
The pandemic is a true test of firms’ values and ethics. Thankfully, financial firms need not choose between operating compliantly and endangering people’s health. Cloud-based technology exists that operates from anywhere to ensure our markets are managed effectively. Widespread use of cloud-based compliance technology has had, and will continue to have, the single greatest impact on market surveillance programs long after this crisis is a distant memory. Attention to compliance along with conduct is forever changed, and cloud is here to stay.
BNP Paribas USA
If you told me a year ago that you could run a U.S. bank with almost 90% of the staff working from home, I’d say you’re crazy. But it’s been the case for pretty much nine months now, and it’s going to be part of the new normal. Whether it will be 30%, 40%, or even more in the new normal, it’s hard to say, but a lot more people will be working from home.
We were always trying to optimize our real estate footprint, but now we’re speeding that up. There will be reduced need for a big headquarters space. Instead, we’ll have larger satellite offices and near-shoring locations close to where people live.
By being a positive and constructive conduit for helping people cope with the pandemic, banks have recouped some of the standing in society they had lost during the previous crisis.
The coordination between central banks, governments, and the financial sector was so much better and stronger this time. It also helped the economy to recover faster. That’s also here to stay.
The pandemic also accelerated the acceptance and popularity of ESG [environment, social, and governance] investing, especially the S component, social causes. Fiscal policies worldwide in the near future will support ESG and sustainable finance.
Recruiting has changed forever: the way you’re going to need to compete for talent, how you recruit people, and what you’re offering them.
The idea of women being able to stay home and raise kids and still work hopefully has changed for the better. So I hope that’s democratized and should allow us to get more diversity into all industries. I think that’s a big positive.
Southern Bancorp Inc.
Prior to the pandemic, many of our customers resisted our digital tools (online banking, mobile deposit). Since closing the lobbies of the branches, customers were encouraged to utilize these mediums to transact their business. While these channels were always more convenient for the customer, the adoption has been seamless. These customers are not likely to utilize the branch as their main channel of communication with us in the future.
Our workforce and workflow are likely changed forever. Prior to the pandemic, remote workers were the exception to the rule. However, we have found many efficiencies in a remote workforce. I believe post-pandemic that the new generation of workers and many of our existing members of the workforce will demand the right to work remotely. While there are efficiencies in this arrangement, there are also intangible costs such as the loss of relationships among employees and building a team environment. We will get better at managing this type of workforce, but it has definitely changed and will continue to do so at a rapid pace.
Nguyen and Onaran report on financial companies for Bloomberg News in New York.
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