Unlike tech-savvy software organizations who have been around for a decade or two, many financial services companies have existed for a century—well before planes flew in the sky. And some processes are as old as the company.
Thankfully, World Wide Technology reported that 2019 is the year when we will see a push towards massive workload migration to the cloud, with figures from 20% to 50% advertised by various banks. This push will trigger significant investment in automation, security, and cloud management.
Whether a financial services organization focuses on the B2C or the B2B space, challenges are synonymous in both sectors for a subject matter expert. By staying dedicated to your RFP response process, you’ll start to see transformational growth.
Challenges B2C and B2B Financial Services Experience
Lester Leong is the VP of Data Science & Strategic Planning at Wells Fargo. As a subject matter expert, his field blends data science and corporate finance. The top 3 challenges Lester sees SMEs face at financial services organizations are:
- Digital Transformation – The process of breaking data silos and combining data from all parts of the company is a strategic endeavor that takes anywhere from a few months to a few years to accomplish.
- Organizational Buy-In – Change comes from the top-down. Leaders of the organization must be committed to sharing data in fostering further insight and innovation.
- Putting the User First – In the cutting edge of data science, teams must always keep the user needs in mind—and how their products help the top or bottom line.
Dan Salva is the Co-Founder of Will & Grail and a subject matter expert who has written for financial services companies for over three decades. The top 3 challenges Dan sees SMEs face at financial services organizations are:
- Complicated Products and Services – Having expertise on the subject is just half the battle. A valuable SME knows how to make content easy to understand and relatable.
- Inward-Focused Organization – The Finserv industry is a laggard in customer experience. A valuable SME focuses on customer experience and knows how to present the organization’s offering in a customer-focused manner.
- Navigating Compliance – A valuable SME knows how to navigate the tricky waters of compliance, sometimes even collaborating with compliance teams to reach an optimal solution.
Transformation Through Your RFP Response Process
Although B2C and B2B organizational challenges are typically separate schools of thoughts, the SME challenges Lester and Dan shared are synonymous for most financial services RFPs. Transformation can occur through multiple facets of the organization, including your RFP response process.
Part of digital transformation is using technology to meet customer expectations and stay ahead of your competition. Another part is being able to disseminate and share information, which is a common uphill battle with RFP responses. You and your team need to find and source that content, then manage and execute it effectively.
Subject matter experts are the frontline RFP responders. Every day you’re digging into the trenches and fighting to find new solutions. Organizational buy-in starts with the team on the frontline. Then, you turn to the leaders in your organization to get them to sponsor your ideas, whether that’s a better process or new technology, like RFP software.
Putting the User First
Revenue earnings of the company depend on putting the customer first in your process. As the subject matter expert, your focus is always to put the user first. Your end goal is the satisfaction of the user, because that’s what drives revenue. The person who is happy is the person who is buying.
Complicated Products and Services
Start considering what financial service is at the core of operations. It’s complicated. People like you must be competent enough to create content, but you also must be a master of your subject. That’s part of a learning process and a natural progression you will see as you mature in your role.
Understand that you’re doing your best work for your organization. But if you forget that your customer is at the core of what you’re doing, then you’re going to be part of this notoriously facing inward type of organization. Focus on your customer’s goals as you are contributing to RFP responses, but also present those goals to the rest of your organization on behalf of the customer.
Compliance is the hottest buzzword in financial services today. If you fail at compliance, your brand fails. Create content like security questionnaires with the understanding that this is a highly regulated industry—and people’s livelihoods are at stake. When collaborating with compliance and legal teams, prove that you’re here for the organization by proxy of the client…and that you’re willing to listen and learn from the mistakes of others.
44% of SMEs Spend Too Much Time on RFP Responses
Bill Gates learned an important lesson from Warren Buffet about time management. Buffet maintains a light calendar, while Gates fills his calendar.
“You control your time…sitting and thinking may be a much higher priority.”
“I can buy anything I want—except time, making it the most precious resource we have.”
In a recent RFPIO survey, nearly half (44%) of SMEs revealed their top challenge is spending too much time on RFP responses. This is indicative of a lack of process with response management. If you’re someone who’s lacking RFP response time, build the processes and delegate the change. Then you focus on “the future 50.” You have 50% of your work that’s focused on fixing things in the past and 50% that’s focused on the future.
You are the keeper of knowledge at your organization. Understand that your time is more valuable than you can imagine. And if an improved RFP response process is put into place, then you will only grow from there.