The tumult of the past year brought swift changes in how consumers and businesses make financial transactions, generating a wide swath of new digital offerings from financial services providers as a result. One thing that has remained constant, though, is the importance of how consumers and businesses receive and send payments, make investments and make loan decisions.
That is one of the many reasons I’m passionate about serving the financial services industry; it is the elemental underpinning to so many aspects of our lives. Moving forward, as I take over the role of national industry leader for financial services at RSM US LLP, and my colleague Jim Greisch retires, I look forward to inspiring our professionals, clients and the community at large to keep seeking opportunities for innovation that create lasting impact. This is critical for the future of the industry.
There has been no shortage of innovation over the last year as financial services companies were forced to adopt a more digital focus due to the global pandemic environment. The rush to quickly develop more virtual offerings meant financial institutions, insurance companies, specialty finance organizations, asset managers and others had to figure out how to interact digitally. As a result, more fintech companies have also entered the space.
This changing landscape and other industry shifts—from digital assets to evolving consumer preferences—provide immense opportunity for the financial services industry.
New ecosystems and niches
Competition is fueling advancements in financial services, but more incumbents are also teaming up with fintech companies to be able to provide the services that customers demand. As a result, the delineations between different sectors within the ecosystem have become less clear.
Looking to the future, we expect more nonfinancial services companies will bundle financial components with their retail or consumer products—one example is what Tesla is already doing by offering its own insurance for customers who buy its vehicles. I also expect a coming wave of innovation that will zero in on how to reach underserved consumers and communities in more effective ways. All of this will result in opportunities to figure out the best solutions for our clients in areas such as technology, risk and regulatory compliance.
One solution our RSM professionals developed this past year was a digital process automation tool that allows financial institutions to manage Paycheck Protection Program loan forgiveness requests from customers. Another recent solution was a proven methodology RSM created for identifying and acting on emerging risks throughout a bank’s portfolio. This methodology uses machine learning, which allows a bank to assess an array of risks and identify them at an early stage.
These are the types of advancements I want to continue to drive forward in the industry. Technology will be one important area of focus for our teams, as will navigating new challenges such as auditing cryptocurrency and the broader pivot to a world in which the dollar is not the only currency for investments. Our new cloud-based platform PartnerSight will help us tap into solutions for complex tax implications of partnerships including hedge funds, private equity and real estate funds.
A broad worldview
I believe it is crucial to think about disruption on a global scale, and my global background has been central in shaping my approach to my work in financial services. I grew up in London and Singapore, began my career in a small office in Scotland, and have had the great opportunity to oversee teams across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. These experiences have been particularly useful in understanding where the financial services industry is heading and keeping the global industry landscape top of mind. I also believe that having a broad view is an important aspect of being a leader who can inspire others.
As national industry leader, I want to focus on deep listening, both to our RSM professionals and to our clients about what’s most important to them in order to continue making our clients’ businesses better and also ensuring fruitful careers for our people as a result. Our approach will be a holistic one in which we continuously look for all the ways we can help people and businesses improve. By fostering that mindset, we will succeed at being first-choice advisors to our clients and the financial services industry at large.
I’m honored to lead our financial services practice at this crucial time, and I’m tremendously excited about all the opportunities that lie ahead.