There’s no question that financial services companies still want to thrive in the digital era. The global pandemic has starkly highlighted the need to be able to make changes to the business on the fly. It’s not lack of desire that’s keeping financial services firms from achieving organisational agility. The problem lies in the prevalence of legacy tech and bureaucratic culture. The future belongs to financial services firms that integrate agility into the nuts and bolts of running the business, from the planning process to the decision-making structure and more.
That’s among the findings of the financial services sector in our global survey of 998 executives, "Organisational Agility at Scale: The Key to Driving Digital Growth". The majority recognise that driving digital growth is critical to their long-term success. And, perhaps more tellingly, we found that there is a strong relationship between digital revenue growth and organisational agility.
We identified five key behaviours that are crucial to organisational agility, and then grouped survey respondents based on their level of adoption of these behaviours. “Leaders” (15% of respondents) achieved high performance across all five of the behaviours, while “aspirers” (30% of respondents) achieved high performance in four of them, and “laggards” (55%) achieved three or fewer of the behaviours.
Here are the five behaviours that are necessary for organisational agility:
Our survey also has a breakout of organisational agility behaviours across industries. In financial services (see infographic here), the percentage of leaders, aspirers and laggards was similar to the breakout in the overall survey: 14% were identified as leaders, 28% as aspirers and 58% as laggards.
Other top findings of how financial services leaders encourage agility in their organisations include:
These findings show that financial services embrace the behaviours necessary for achieving organisational agility. However, our research also found that firms recognise that they struggle with some of the key traits.
For example, companies need dynamic planning so they can react quickly to changing market conditions and potential threats to the business. But some financial services firms struggle to achieve this due to inflexible legacy technologies (which lines up with what we’ve seen from other studies), bureaucratic organisational culture and lack of relevant employee skills.
Agile structures and processes are key aspects of organisational agility. Yet, financial services firms again cite legacy technology and bureaucratic culture as top barriers to this goal. The lack of insightful data and market intelligence was also cited as an obstacle.
Also another challenge to achieving organisational agility is the lack of key performance indicators (KPIs) that reflect the digital era, as cited by 56% of financial services firms in our study.
Data transparency across the organisation is the most impactful change financial services firms can make to achieve organisational agility. The financial services companies in our research admit that data, although accessible to a degree, is often siloed within functional teams or out of date. This is on par with the overall average reported across our survey.
But financial services execs also recognise that data is the key to unlock digital growth: two-thirds of financial services firms point to the free flow of information and data, and standardised processes, as the two biggest enablers of delegated decision-making – and two in five report full data access across their organisation.
Bottom line: financial services must integrate agility into the nuts and bolts of running their business. Only then will more financial services companies achieve the organisational agility that they need to succeed.
Get an overview of findings from “Organisational Agility at Scale: The Key to Driving Digital Growth” or download the full report.