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Technology Trends in Accounting 2021 Research Report
Discover the progress accountancy firms have made in their business and client service transformation, and what impact the pandemic has had on their use of technology.

What can accountants learn from the financial services sector about technology and innovation

Thomas Struyf
Written by: Thomas Struyf

During Fast Forward we spoke to a broad panel of leading voices within technology, financial services and accounting. In this week’s blog, we are focusing on the first session of the event where we spoke with innovators in financial services about the impact of technology. Joining us were Sophie Docx (Cake), Nathalie Vandepeute (Bancontact Payconiq) and Jeroen Lemaire (In the Pocket).

All three companies have vast experience in the use of technology to drive innovation and customer service either as a provider of financial services themselves or as a developer for others. Our speakers were in the perfect position to tell us about the meaning of technology in our daily and professional lives as accountants.

Customer experience is key

When it comes to the most important benefits of technology, Sophie, Nathalie and Jeroen, all agreed: technology should always be of service to the client and customer experience is the key to success. “The mobile trend will change all kinds of relationships,” said Jeroen, “so in the short term, we need to work on the customer experience. The question to ask yourself is: can my clients interact with me when they want to?”

Nathalie couldn’t agree more, and she knows what she is talking about. During the Covid-months earlier this year, her company experienced rapid change as people significantly changed their payment behaviour. Mobile payments went up by 60% and contactless payments increased and now make up to 37% of all payment transactions. In January this year, only 15% of all payments were contactless.

When serving such a large audience, it is essential to make customer needs a priority. At Bancontact Payconiq, they try to make this happen by offering a payment experience that is easy and has a good security level.

Digital is here to stay

Payment services were not the only domain where digital transformation has exploded. According to a report from McKinsey on the changes in digital behaviour, in the past few months, the customer has clearly discovered the digital path. And even more important, 75% of the people want to maintain the digital trend. Also according to the report, companies have acted upon this evolution and have accelerated their digital agenda. The best confirmation for this trend came only minutes later during the session, when the results of the first poll question of our viewers came in. It told us that 88% confirmed that their digital strategy has changed due to Covid.

But what should firms and companies be focusing on when making the digital shift? According to Sophie, data, security and customer centricity will be crucial for companies in order to future proof.

However, warned Jeroen, companies shouldn’t be using technology just for the sake of technology. Mindlessly piling up technologies on top of technologies will not do your company any good. “Always think about the added value,” he said, “At In the Pocket we call this design thinking.” And design thinking sometimes means you have to rethink the DNA of your firm, he admitted. Nathalie sided with him once more and urged us not to just jump on any technology. “Wait until a technology has proven its value,” she said.

Another important factor for success from all three companies is that you should maintain a good balance between internal and external expertise. The way to go is to have some knowledge in-house and to fortify that knowledge with the expertise of solid external partners. “Especially now it’s important to stay flexible,” as Sophie summed it up.

Technology: a partner for success, not a competitor

As both Payconiq and Cake are active in the payments and financial services industry, the inevitable question that needed answering was: is technology a threat for banks? Both our experts were convinced that it shouldn’t be. Technology can help you to offer added value services and to improve the user experience. Apart from that, it also drives innovation and competition, which is only beneficial to customers, as competition helps improve quality.

So, what should you be focusing on in the short term? Jeroen encouraged us all to focus on user and customer experience. “Take care of your mobile touchpoints and the website of your firm,” he said. “And finally, make sure to rely on trusted technology but keep an eye on the trends too.”

Want to know more about what our experts said? You can watch the full session with Sophie, Nathalie and Jeroen on our recording of our live show over at the Fast Forward 2020 website.

Can we help you to get started or accelerate your firm’s digital transformation? Make sure to contact us today and let’s get going.