In 2020, Australian society and the financial services sector at large were deeply disrupted by the global pandemic. The sector played a leading role in helping individuals and businesses deal with the impacts of COVID-19.
As 2020 drew to a close and we pushed into 2021, we surveyed our financial services clients to better understand the longer term impacts of the pandemic, lockdowns and economic disruption. With organisations facing multiple pressures in the form of fast tracked digital agendas, changing workplace and macroeconomic concerns, as well as the fallout from the Royal Commission and existing regulatory pressures, the results illustrate the sector’s priorities and point to the long term changes facing the industry and Australian society.
The results are considered in four areas. Highlights include:
Workplace culture and environment
14% of respondents had downsized their office space during the pandemic – but nearly half of the respondents said they might in the future. And despite the tumultuous environment, two thirds of respondents said that their initiatives to enhance culture and to meet community and customer expectations had accelerated, and 31% said they had continued.
The economy, regulation, consumer and community expectations
Out of a range of macroeconomic issues that were identified, respondents identified rising unemployment and small business failure as their biggest concerns. The impact of state border closures and household debt also ranked highly. Over half of respondents said that COVID-19 has impacted on their organisation's ability to deal with regulatory issues.
Outsourcing, offshoring and supply chains
Nearly a third of respondents outsource their IT operations. Call centres and applications development support & maintenance was also outsourced – some offshore. But for those that offshore, only 21% are considering bringing operations back onshore.
The importance of technology and digitisation
Since March 2020, 92% of respondents found that their customers had increased their interaction with their existing digital platforms – a third of respondents said significantly so. 68% of respondents had upgraded their digital platforms for customers, and 56% are planning major investments in new technology over the next 2-3 years.