Lenders are facing into the cost-of-living crisis with a challenging COVID-19 hangover. 4.7m payment holidays were granted in the UK by the time furlough was lifted in 2021, and the ‘return to normality’ leaves millions of customers at risk of sliding into non-performing loan (NPL) situations.
Lenders needed to work at scale to bring customers through the crisis sympathetically, flexibly and efficiently, preserving value while ensuring fair outcomes for customers and maintaining regulatory compliance. It’s a multi-dimensional problem space, stretching for client businesses and critical to the well-being of wider society as we face into new challenges, post-pandemic.
As in any crisis, there’s opportunity, here. Lockdowns forced the pace of digital adoption in ways no CTO could imagine three years ago. Customers have new installed capabilities and new expectations, opening up the benefits of digital innovation to whole new demographics.
But this tectonic shift is also a stressor for the sector and those who support it, breaking old models. And the commercial crisis takes place within a tough and fast-evolving regulatory landscape. Even the more agile, modular transformation methods may struggle to remain relevant – the sheer pace of this change demands accelerated capabilities from every single actor in the process: in supporting this stage of digital transformation, we are transforming ourselves.
Pace through collaboration
EY teams have long served its clients as an integrator, bringing leading market solutions together in well-integrated consortia, tailored to each strategic challenge, moving away from monolithic solutions of the traditional ‘Commercial, off-the-shelf’ (COTS) style. EY teams have deepened its ability to help deliver in a more modular way, applying constellations of surgically targeted micro-services that can yield more benefit, faster and earlier in a client’s transformation journey.
But there’s another turn of the wheel happening, now. We’re working to reduce the gap between the complex, rapidly changing problem spaces clients live and breathe, as described above, and the FinTech specialists who seek to support them.
The EY organisation stands in a creative, entrepreneurial position between the two, here. And its human-centred innovation labs offer a common language for collaboration where these two worlds can collide, meaningfully and productively. This is not about incubation or acquisition, but about rapid, targeted, practical innovation.
The Vizolution collab experience
In January 2022, EY teams brought the combined banking transformation, service design and regulatory experience of EY teams together with the transformative FinTech capabilities of Vizolution in a two-day “Hackathon” focused not on coding, or even banking, but on the human journeys that both organisations serve. Neil Waring, Eve McCann, Daniel Focht and Olivia Kalinowski led the collaboration across our FS business and EY Seren to deliver the event, together with Vizolution’s SVP Global Alliances and Partnerships, Graeme Ventris.
In simpler industries, dealing with a person has not been required for a decade. From Amazon to Uber, we’ve all grown accustomed to getting from A-B in a rapid, personalised, self-service journey. When we turn to banking and other financial services, it’s more complicated, and our frustrated expectations lead to poor experiences, cost and waste. Vizolution has a particular strength in FinTech solutions that make these remote transactions smoother, quicker and in many cases, paper-free. We wanted to explore how to accelerate the pace at which these pieces can be made to fit the strategic puzzles we’re solving for the clients.
Our human experience innovation lab facilitated the session, drawing in EY consultants with deep insight into the challenges clients are battling, today, and Vizolution’s unique expertise in remote solutions and simplified customer transacting.
As Peter Neufeld, Partner at EY notes, “We’re keen to identify solutions for clients that embolden their purpose, deliver human benefit and add value, swiftly. Our human-centred innovation labs are pivotal in this task, giving all participants deeper understanding of the business impact design engineering can have, and equipping us to realise business benefit for clients and satisfying human experiences for their customers, early in the journey. Making valued specialists like Vizolution part of the end-to-end transformation journeys we provide for clients realizes better outcomes for every stakeholder.”
The lab process, briefing ahead, facilitating the session, and holding human experience at the centre of the work, creates a uniquely creative space. The goal: market-ready prototypes for three challenges of immediate relevance to clients, now.
The team began their two-day brainstorm with a presentation of Use Cases, before moving into opportunity definition and some disruptive ideation. By close of Day 1, the teams were ready to vote on the concepts of most value and significance, to both banks and their customers, to take forward. Day 2’s morning of focus on prototyping moved to a split in the afternoon: half of each team further detailing the prototypes, the other half documenting the complex factors considered and benefits realised in each design decision, to engage with clients.
Evanna Fitzgerald, Banking Transformation partner at EY, agreed: “Our specialists getting hands-on with the tech, and the Vizolution team building their business insight – it’s all of mutual benefit. There’s nothing nicer than building something tangible. It’s human-centric, compliant and relevant to the strategic opportunities facing clients, in a way that promises to yield benefits exceptionally rapidly. Doing it this way is really the future of consultancy.”
Vizolution took prototyping tasks away from the hackathon, with a follow-up review giving selected EY account teams a view of the propositions and an opportunity to feed back. The end-to-end innovation process from concept to go-to-market proposition was achieved in six weeks.
Bill Safran, Vizolution CEO, is delighted with the energy and the output: “It accelerates everything that we’re doing. It’s helped us focus our designs on what’s going to add most value to customers, bringing in real world experience and feedback. It accelerates our ability to reach right into adding value to clients in this market. And it’s accelerated our thinking about the evolving FCA duty of care regulations, a huge issue where we can really help the market.”
Transforming the transformers
Given the depth of the commercial and economic challenges flowing from COVID-19 pandemic, and underlying macro trends, banks need partners who can join them on the track, running at pace, like this – in tune with their immediate needs, handing them the precise tools that suit the task, at precisely the right moment in their transformation effort. The solutions we deliver through collaborations like this will help them close more, retain more, reduce waste, and do so faster than most. The potential benefits to their businesses, their customers and to the wider post-pandemic recovery are tangible.
So, it’s exciting for both teams to be pathfinding the change that’s transforming how transformation works. With collabs and an ecosystem of partners, we’re defining the way that consultancy will be delivered tomorrow and for the next ten years, in the way of working we’re applying here, right now.