New Year – Déjà Vu

Another week gone and definitely back into the lockdown routine… Not going out, not meeting folks, and lots of tea with biscuits; my excitement this weekend… defrosting the freezer. Roll-on spring, longer days, and the vaccine… at this point I think we all need it.

Still the observations for this week.

  • I was out in the car this week, for the weekly grocery shop again, click and collect. Interesting how quickly driving can feel rusty… fortunately not many cars out so all was good.
  • Lockdown can be a good time to learn new skills… at the end of a long day sitting inside, somehow this is never that easy. I am just not feeling the flush of extra time this time around… all my efforts are currently on trying to avoid new season box sets on TV… ‘this is the way’!
  • Workwise, there are definite trends to shorter calls. Less are standard 30min or 1hr blocks it seems. More are quick check-ins, also across multiple locations… are new, digital, ways of working now becoming more normalised… maybe?

Everyone stay safe, and cheerful… better days are around the corner…

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Moving on and moving on up…

Two weeks into the year and a couple of themes are already emerging.

Complexities: Rising complexities with trade, increased COVID levels, with new variants, is all leading to a real sense of unease on the economy and going forward more generally.

Different but the same: Back at the start of last year, all of this was new and everything felt unusual. However, this time around it has changed. Although the news is not great, we are now normalising it and are moving on. A sense of a can-do attitude maybe, the will to move on and move ahead.

I not would say there is a sense of optimism, there is not.

However, there is a desire to make the best of it and to move ahead… I suspect this may set the tone for the year.

With all of this in mind there were a couple of stories that caught my attention this week.

  • All eyes on stamp duty, the impact on house prices and lending. I suspect this will get extended. It is probably creating some price inflation for now and may pop any market exuberance if not.
  • 66% of bank customers still don’t trust online. This figure surprised me as it was so high. It does however illustrate a problem for those banks that need to provide a universal service for everyone. Even with lockdown and the great migration to digital, the journey to create new digital habits is still important.
  • Digital processes for back end collections processes have been agreed. Zoom is now allowed to be used for enforcement visits. COVID is accelerating modern ways of working in many areas.
  • Buy-now-pay-later. More pressure for greater regulation on this sector. There are concerns as to whether this could be building up problem borrowing for some consumers and it is all starting to sound very familiar. Porting ideas and experience from other sectors in financial services will no doubt be invaluable here.
  • The importance of psychology in user experience. There is quite a bit of progress in using techniques to drive positive outcomes for customers. This can be in terms of behavior science (nudge) or thinking in the customer’s shoes, it is all very interesting to see this flow through.
  • Lastly, I had a very interesting conversation on simultaneous equations! Not that these are particularly fascinating, but what was interesting was whether we know the equations we are actually solving for (ie. the business problems). These solutions may be different for different parties and how to navigate this is the challenge we all face.

Is it undoubtedly going to be an interesting year…. have a good weekend all.

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Double humpf day

What a crazy week that was. Not only were we back to work, but also whisked off into another lockdown, schools off, homeschooling, COVID cases rising and then towards the end of the week – a late night watching developments in the USA.

All quite unexpected, unsettling, and sprinkled with clouds of doom and gloom; it felt like we were dodging this all week, just trying to be cheerful.

There were of course, still some observations.

  • Getting back to work after the holidays is always tough. This year especially so, with a case of brain fog the first few days… hopefully, plenty of sunny spells with only the odd cloud this week!
  • It has also been a bit of pitiful performance on dry January this year… only 5 days… I am even still eating mince pies (they needed finishing – my excuse!). This coming week needs to be a fresh start… the opportunity to stay in, get fit, do our best to avoid COVID, and stay healthy.
  • Workwise, on calls last week it did feel that more of us have finally decided to be on video… I think I am now up to three ironed shirts a week now… still drawing a line at wearing a jacket… dark colours and cats just do not mix!

Stay strong, stay safe everyone, have a good week… Chris

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