Trends in Financial Services: 2018

At too many financial institutions, necessary structural and digital transformation were put on pause during the economic recovery. In 2018, many will finally begin the arduous process of modernizing long-out-of-date systems.

Financial services rarely set the bar for design or customer experience.

In 2018, Amazon, Google and Apple set the standard. Consumers of all age groups are increasingly acting like millennials, demanding personalized services and a strong customer experience.

In response, traditional financial services are putting their sizable transactional, behavioral and demographic datasets to use in marketing and IT. Will 2018 finally be the year for digital transformation in financial services?

The Funnelback team boasts decades of experience with financial services. Each year, we gather our best minds to identify what they're hearing from our partners and customers.

This is what we're being told to look out for in 2018.

Mapping the Customer Journey

Mapping your customer's purchase journey is key to knowing when, where and how to market to them. How are they thinking and feeling? What are they doing when they look you up? Every CMO speaks of understanding the customer journey.

With unified data to provide true insight into customer journeys, marketing will be able to produce ever more useful reports in the moment related to share of wallet, customer lifetime value, acquisition and retention efforts, and assets under management - metrics that drive actual revenue instead of implied value like "engagement with an ad".

This will likely increase marketing budgets and spill over into other departments where digital transformation has been more aggressively resisted, prompting an organizational re-think of legacy information systems.

Marketing Analytics & Insights

Netflix and Amazon drive "personalized content" on the web based on their vast troves of data and ability to parse "big data" for meaningful insight. An alarming number of financial marketers, however, have neither the skill nor budget to make the attempt to parse their data.

New tools will make advanced analytics available for organizations of all sizes. Stitching this data together into a coherent vision will drive real insights across departments and enable marketing and IT to provide a new level of transparency across silos. Marketers with the best data sources and best tools to unite them will be the most successful in this new, digital world.

Breaking Silos

Despite years of progress in other fields, financial services continue to be driven by org chart rivalries and departmental silos. With a slow push toward collaboration, many departments took their first tentative steps toward collaboration - even within the department - in 2017.

To craft a successful customer experience across the organization, financial services firms will break down silos to unite diverse platforms and channels. IT, operations and marketing will become united, first by technology and then by process.


Micro-marketing, focused on micro-moments, took the marketing world by storm in 2017. Micro-moments are moments in time - very quick internet searches, purchases, or decisions - that can make or break a decision to apply. It makes sense: 96% of users in 2017 reached for their smartphones to conduct research on the spot. Research, purchase, or opt-in micro-moments increasingly drove content.

What comes up when a prospect searches for "automotive loan at Bankwest" or "refinance at Santander"? A combination of SEO, rich results, in-site search and a refined understanding of the audience will make or break your efforts.

Voice Search

The day your great-aunt bought an Amazon Echo, you knew the war was over. Voice search won.

By 2020, the number of mobile searches conducted by voice search are expected to increase to 50%. You've optimized for mobile: now it's time to optimize for voice.

Our team integrated voice search for a major retail bank client in Australia. The result has been a fascinating experiment in how customers conduct search with different input media.

Mobile Self-Service

"Mobile" has been a catchphrase since the launch of the iPhone. Financial services, naturally conservative, have been late to the game.

Simple steps like biometric login and basic personalization have started to reduce friction for buyers and, like most user experience improvements, led to greater revenue. But are they too late to save financial services for modern consumers?

Some 40% of Americans haven't set foot in a bank or credit union in six months. They aren't just moving online: many are moving to digital "financial wellness platforms" that run the gamut of financial management, from budgeting, banking, payment and crowd-funding.

By 2020, Gartner claims that 85% of customer interactions will be automated, responding to customer's preference for self-service on all media.


Bloomberg noted a stunning 40% increase in data breaches in 2016 alone. This threat still hasn't been enough to stop movement to the cloud, but threatened to add confusion to major IT decisions requiring an OK from leadership.

From block chain to chip-based security, the enterprise is reacting. Consumers, meanwhile, are finding anonymous, relatively secure crypto-currencies ever more attractive compared to traditional financial services. Especially nimble financial services will react in innovative partnerships like Ripple and MoneyGram.

Generation Z

The tail end of the millennial obsession began as the oldest members of Gen Z turned 22. After a full decade wondering how to reach the elusive millennial set, marketers turned their attention to their younger - and very different - siblings.

The New York Times notes that Gen Z is "aware of its environment, constantly documenting itself, its existence mirrored in the cloud." (They also hate to be called "Gen Z".) In 2018, you'll want to keep an eye on this emerging generation. They have never known a world without the internet, social media, and multi-channel advertising. (In 2017, only a quarter of financial institutions had even been on social media for five years.) They expect their world to be digital first: 44% anticipate supplementing traditional financial services with those from their favorite tech companies.

Focus on ROI

In 2017, most financial institutions ranked "measuring performance and/or proving results (ROI)" among their top five challenges. Tying specific revenue outcomes to marketing initiatives isn't just about reporting: it's about fine-tuning efforts on the fly as data indicates its success or failure. Adjusting a campaign or landing page based on results as they come in can make or break a modern campaign.

Prepare to shift your budget to reflect these new capabilities. Instead of a static object, the budget must now include flexibility to react as one campaign succeeds or fails: if a television campaign is failing, shift your spend quickly to the successful alternative.

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