The financial services industry has gone through significant changes over the years. Now the focus has shifted to providing new access points to improve the customer journey and experience.
The idea that the sun revolved around the earth was widely held until the 16th century. In his seminal work "On the Orbits of the Celestial Spheres" published in 1543, Nicolaus Copernicus put out a completely different theory of the universe: the earth revolves around the sun. This point of view was obviously rejected at the time. However, over the centuries, it managed to survive.
In the banking sector, customer access appears to be following a pattern from the past. The financial sector has always lacked both pricing competition and product differentiation. Each bank and insurance firm had its own internal distribution network that solely controlled access to consumers, making the customer access mainly private.
The dominant paradigm was that of the producer, with the creators of financial items at the centre and consumers orbiting them like planets. As a result, one would have to go to the bank for a mortgage, to the insurance agent for insurance, and to Vitaparcours' founder, for instance, for life insurance. For health insurance, on the other hand, one would have to visit the agency of a health insurance company. If someone had to obtain all these products at the same time – for example, because he moved from abroad – he would not be able to get them all from one place.
Customer access has evolved over the past few decades and has become progressively disassociated from the producer. Brokers who distributed goods from various origins first arose. The internet and direct access through (comparison) platforms then appeared. Insurance companies and banks started to collaborate on projects, such as what we now refer to as bancassurance, which allows insurance companies to sell their products to the banks’ clients.
Players outside the financial sector have also been providing financial products for a while (i.e., a car dealer will offer you lease financing and auto insurance if you purchase a car).
Parallel to this development, the awareness of the customer has changed. In a similar way to how Copernicus described the sun, the customer has steadily shifted to the centre of the universe. Financial services companies are increasingly focusing on the customer's perspective while examining processes. They talk about customer centricity and the customer journey. Accordingly, they try to optimise customer benefits by bundling different products.
Thus, the essence of the financial universe has been reached: client benefits. This may manifest itself in the form of time savings or smooth product coordination. Instead of the producer's perspective, the consumer benefit needs to be maximised. This optimisation can be made possible through digitisation, but that is not the end goal.
As a result of this development, the weighting of different customer accesses has shifted. In the future, it will shift even more significantly (see Figure 3).
New customer access points include embedded insurance, cooperations, and, above all, bancassurance 2.0. For financial products, this channel will soon take on a key role. We explained the reasons for this in our blog post "Bancassurance 2.0: How the Ugly Duckling Became a Swan".
Traditional customer access to banking or insurance services is not disappearing, but it is losing relative weight and changing its character. Customer access to the future is now increasingly oriented towards advisory, value-creating activities.