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Ecosystems 2021 – what will the future bring?

Shaping and positioning of the financial services industry

The rapid development of ecosystems is presenting financial service providers with major operational and strategic challenges. This view is confirmed by our study, which is based on the results of a survey of Swiss and German financial service providers. The survey focuses in particular on the current and future positioning of the financial industry in ecosystems, the use of digital platforms for the exchange of data, the necessary expertise of employees, corporate culture and regulation.

Ecosystems 2021 – what will the future bring?

Ecosystems in the financial services industry

Ecosystems in the context of the survey are dynamically evolving communities of businesses, consumers and institutions that share resources in a common market (e.g. through a platform), adding value in a common business model.

For financial service providers, a question arises as to whether and how they want to position themselves in newly-emerging ecosystems, and how they want to structure their products and services. Participation in ecosystems offers them considerable benefits, including greater customer retention and focus, new forms of revenue generation, integration with specialised partners and sharing of costs. However, significant risks must also be taken into account, such as loss of customer interfaces, data security concerns, reduced margins, loss of control, and loss of brand identity.

Main results

There are six main findings in the report:

How do ecosystems affect the financial services industry in Switzerland?

Ecosystems involving financial companies are already a reality and they are expected to evolve rapidly in the future. In Switzerland, companies from outside the industry – in particular BigTechs – will increasingly penetrate financial industry ecosystems through their direct access to a large number of end customers and their high profile. In extreme cases ecosystems may even call into question the role of financial service providers, and this presents financial service providers with fundamental strategic challenges.

What action should banks take?

Financial service providers can meet these strategic challenges by:

  • Understanding the fundamental nature of ecosystems as well as the roles and potential exchange relationships they entail
  • Defining their ecosystem strategy within the context of the regulatory environment: there may be differing roles for financial service providers in different ecosystems
  • Defining core aspects of ecosystem design
  • Planning and initialising transformation steps

In order to analyse in a structured way the actions that are needed, the Business Engineering Institute St. Gallen in cooperation with Deloitte has developed a framework for the most important decision-making areas and strategic options for financial service providers.

The extent to which financial service providers overcome these major challenges, many of them cultural, in order to operate successfully in ecosystems will soon become apparent.

About the report

The results of this study are based on an online survey of Swiss and German financial service providers, which have been augmented with selected in-depth interviews with representatives from the financial industry in both countries.

Three-quarters of the evaluated results consist of feedback from banks and insurance companies, more than half of them regional and local financial services providers. A further 15% of the survey participants are IT infrastructure providers. Approximately 90% of the representatives participating in the online survey are employed in Switzerland or Germany as members of the executive board, senior management or management.

Graphics of the report
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