A recent study of the financial services market in the U.K. and Ireland reveals that companies' top priorities have shifted from cost cutting to improved customer service. This suggests that finance businesses will begin spending more and improving their customer service as a result of their increasing willingness to focus on that segment of the industry.
The full report that IT company Fujitsu completed, "Two Years On: The Financial Services Landscape”, reveals that only 27 percent of IT decision makers it surveyed said their top priority was to reduce costs. This is nearly half of what a similar report indicated two years ago when 52 percent of respondents said that cutting costs was their top priority.
In 2012, Fujitsu says in its report, it surveyed 55 financial sector CIOs to get an idea of what the market landscape was like. This year, the company surveyed more than 175 CIOs and IT decision makers in its follow-up study -- the research mentioned above.
"Last time we surveyed this audience," the report says, "one issue came through louder than any other. Reflecting the FS industry as it was in 2012, more than half the organizations we spoke to said that reducing costs was one of their top three priorities for the year ahead. And this was costs cutting in its purest form; far outweighing, for example, any thoughts over increased efficiency (15 percent) or managing on a restricted budget (13 percent)."
This year, the report showed that the four top priorities respondents listed are increasing and improving customer experience (28 percent), improving efficiency (27 percent), reducing costs (27 percent), and maximizing growth (26 percent).
The gaps between those priorities are clearly closer than "cutting costs" was to "efficiency" or "restricted budget" in 2012. Fujitsu makes note of this discrepancy and says that, although decision makers are not going as full throttle for cutting costs this year as they were two years ago, businesses still obviously have spending on their minds.
Their willingness to spend may be helped by another statistic in the research. It also mentions that 37 percent of respondents expect to have more money in their budgets in the next three years. That optimism may carry businesses far, and the report points out that businesses may spend more on investments and will cut back on pure business maintenance. Anne MacRae, head of financial services for Fujitsu UK & Ireland, indicated that the willingness to invest could change the overall face of the market and allow larger companies to compete on a level with which startups are familiar.
"The findings reflect a sector that understands what it needs to do, and is poised to make the leap to invest," MacRae said. "Focus on enabling growth and driving innovation are crucial in organizations moving forward in an increasingly competitive market under threat from technology-led entrants."
The full report can be found here.