COVID-19: Early implications for planning Financial Services technology investment

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10 March 2020
Daniel W. Latimore and Jamie Macgregor

With Italy going into full quarantine overnight, significant oil price volatility, and the largest one-day drop in some of the world’s leading stock markets since the financial crisis, the spread of COVID-19 continues to cause concern across markets.

Planning and preparing for situations like this one is far from easy. Access to knowledge becomes critical and the ability to react quickly turns into a significant organizational competence.

In the search for resources to help you prepare, I’d like to point you to two excellent catalogs from our parent company that you should bookmark and check regularly:

  • Marsh & McLennan’s Hub Page. Here, there are a variety of webcasts and reports on the business and economic implications resulting from the outbreak. The next webcast is due tomorrow on 11th March at 11 am ET USA.

  • Oliver Wyman’s Hub Page. Here, you’ll find a series of reports to help your organization prepare, and a view on how your risk functions should respond.

At Celent, we continue to monitor the outlook for technology investment across the financial services sector resulting from the current situation. As you would have already noticed, industry events have been hard hit, with many being canceled or postponed. Inevitably, this will hit the discretionary spending of some solution providers as they look to recoup their marketing costs.

We too have made the tough decision to switch our flagship Innovation and Insight event scheduled for 16th April into a virtual conference with a mix of live webcasts and online content. We’ll be communicating more detail around this change over the next few days. Our intention is to turn this event into a global online celebration of our ~40+ Model Bank, Model Insurer and Model Wealth Manager winners from this year.

Regarding technology investment itself, although still early, we have witnessed a few project decisions being postponed while firms work out how best to run projects that would normally involve bringing people together. We’ve also heard anecdotally of a large bank asking consultants to work remotely. Hopefully, this is not yet widespread and will be short-lived. However, we’ll be tracking this development closely and looking to see how it may translate into future project investment portfolio decisions.

People are exploring remote working. The term “Video Conference” and “Virtual Conference” has spiked on Google Trends.

Google Trends Analysis of Video and Virtual Conferences

If there is a silver lining to the current situation, it’s simply that the increase in video-conference calls and creative ways to collaborate virtually may stick into the future, helping firms to be more inclusive across large distances and kinder to the planet as a result of reduced travel. As Benjamin Jowett’s flowery translation of Plato’s proverb suggests, “Necessity is the mother of invention". Communications technology could be the real winner here.

How is your team coping with Covid-19? Have you come up with effective new ways of working? Are there any tools in particular that you’d recommend to others? We’d like to hear from you.