It’s cold outside… let’s create some atmosphere

We are inching towards Christmas and with the shops now open, nights drawing in it is starting to feel like winter… it even tried to snow this week.

Of course, this is year like no other, and with the pandemic, things are going to feel a little different… however hopefully it will be a nice change and distraction.

And yet even with this Christmas cheer, there is still a troubling sense of the calm before the storm, amongst many people I chat to, at least financially speaking.

This could of course be we all are just glum…bah humbug… although I would argue more likely a case of just being prepared… and looking at some of the recent stories in the news can help.

Attention to Lending Criteria

Despite mortgage demand being up and indeed credit cards being paid off, financial institutions continue to be careful with their lending criteria. As we have gathered more data throughout the pandemic, this is increasingly being fed through as extra nuance (eg performance of customers on furlough). As new data continues to roll in it is likely we will continue to see these new changes, sometimes in innovative ways.

It really does feel as if the lending world is being resegmented in a different way, and gradually the chips are now starting to fall in place.

For many customers, the fundamental willingness to pay bills has not changed, ie their character. However, due to the nature of the crisis, their ability to pay has changed… and often this time it is through no fault of their own.

The model (can’t pay, won’t pay) of course has not changed…but, with COVID19, the population in each group has changed significantly… there is just a lot more in the will pay, can’t pay box…. in thinking about customer journeys this will be a guiding influence and dominant type of contact going forward I suspect… and it is worth us being prepared.

More changes in Fin Tech

In previous articles, I mentioned some concerns raised regarding the stress this crisis could have on the new breed of startup fin tech banks… Earlier in the year Starling Bank was the first bank that looked like it would make a profit, however it now seems like it is on the block for sale.

All of this makes me think of Egg, back in the late 90’s. A real pioneer and in many ways a forerunner to many of the fin tech banks we see today. Whilst the large banks have attempted to compete in this space, will they, as was the case with Egg, just buy their way into the market, the ideas and technology instead. This is looking increasingly likely, especially if there is lending stress leading to potential bargins.

The danger of course is that on consolidation the innovation and spark is lost in the process. More developments here no doubt, and probably soon, even next year.

End of transistion ‘no deal’ looms

With the end of this year, comes the end of the transition period for the UK. With no deal yet agreed Brexit is starting to feature again.

There are of course real impacts should there be ‘no deal’. This is especially in the area of data if the UK becomes a third country and more and more concern is now being raised around the City and finance in general… to top it off £50bn has gone missing too… there is no such thing as a dull week I suppose.

… have a good weekend everyone… @chris_w_tweet

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Help I don’t speak cat…

Last week felt like a long week… much of it has to do with a lack of variety in the day I think, which has been an issue during lockdowns… the odd trip to the office here, a visit to a client there, it just adds interest and breaks up the week… hopefully we will be back running soon… still observations for this week.

  • More and more businesses seem to be adapting to the new digital world. This week, the local vet… telehealth for pets… who would have thought… they have trouble explaining their symptoms mind you. Even with AI, google translate for cat and dog is likely some way off…!
  • The length of the lockdown (or a consequence of home office perma-snacking) means new clothes are now needed… fitting seems to be hard to replicate digitally… yet another trip to the post office tomorrow to return my ‘aspirational sizings’…!
  • Workwise, constant video calls continue. A comment was made, and contrary to some views, that these are actually helping build stronger relationships… small frequent video calls really help apparently… is it time to stop trying to replicate the 3-5 hour workshop online… a new medium so maybe a new approach…

Have a good week everyone…. @chris_w_ tweet

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Is the future already here…?

We are all now getting very used to being on video and video calls.

In conversation this week the topic came up and discussion turned to how we used to see people on video calls on TV before but it never really took off (remember The Big Bang Theory)… this was of course before the pandemic… now it seems second nature…. it was a hidden trend waiting for the trigger.

“The future has arrived — it’s just not evenly distributed yet.” – William Gibson

All of this got me thinking… what is the next trend, the next change, hidden in plain sight, one just we haven’t noticed yet….?

It also linked to a couple of interesting conversations around messaging and communication too.

Looking at my desktop there is a proliferation of messaging platforms I now have to monitor… Email, Skype, Teams, Slack, Messenger, WhatsApp, LinkedIn, etc. Each are vying for my attention… and most are trying to create a closed loop ecosystem… THEY want to be the single point for everything communication related… this is to own the customer relationship and no doubt their data too.

Gradually this is Omni-channel arriving…. increasingly however it is feeling fragmented across multiple platforms and apps.

As a consumer there are of course only so many platforms you can actually manage… and for business, it represents a wider problem… which platform and how many platforms do I focus on…?

Some businesses undoubtedly will try to manage all of them and there are already some consolidator hubs popping up… Others, however, seem to be bucking this trend and concentrating on just a few.

With the network effect… platform consolidation… a few will dominate… with WhatsApp and WeChat out in front.

The demise of email has long been discussed… but is this the real start of change… a trend to get ahead of… maybe, but certainly one to watch.

“Welcome to the real world” – Morpheus

Meanwhile back in the real world many people continue to struggle financially through this crisis.

This was also brought into sharp relief this week, via the Debt Advice sector, listening to some of the struggles people are having.

Assistance is undoutbedly at hand with support from businesses (eg payment deferrals), and the government (eg furlough) all having helped many.

Source: ONS

Still, benefits claims have dramatically increased… with many people claiming where they never have before…. it is reaching levels last seen in the 1980s.

With so many people being touched by this crisis one way or another, awareness has been transformed. The stigma of discussing financial difficulties fading and many more people are finding it easier to empathize and discuss the issues involved… Maybe just maybe this could be a future trend too.

If we can all be more transparent and in someways honest about our financial situation, this could lead to better understanding and outcomes for all… hopefully so.

Have a good weekend everyone… @chris_w_tweet

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