Frontiers in Finance

For decision-makers in financial services Issue #56

Change has been a constant in the Financial Services sector for years on end. No doubt the future will bring more of the same. Indeed, in all the articles featured in this issue of Frontiers in Finance, change is the common denominator.

Though change is constant, it means different things in different circumstances. Some will perceive it primarily as a source of additional pressure. For insurers for instance, and their CIO’s in particular, the pressure is mounting as competition is increasingly based on organizational agility and flexibility. Although they have been working hard to transform their core IT systems accordingly, insurers continue to struggle to make the progress needed to win in the market.

That change is inevitably also a source of uncertainty is perhaps nowhere more obvious than in the case of Brexit. The UK’s vote to leave the European Union will cause uncertainty and complications, in the UK as well as in countries it trades with. This uncertainty will be looming over financial markets for years, but, as the authors of ‘Engaging with Brexit’ set out, this will also bring major opportunities and significant benefits to the best-prepared.

Opportunity is indeed an inevitable corollary of change. In the article on insurers, we argue that the pressure they feel should make them even bolder in their transformation objectives. Opportunities abound also in emerging markets that, due to a lack of legacy technology, banking infrastructure and regulatory constraints, and their leap-frog pattern of technology adoption, are uniquely set to embrace the next wave of innovation. The same holds true in the European payments market, where the open payments regulation creates a massive opportunity for banks around the world — opportunities though that only few banks are taking.

Since change is our main theme, it is only fitting that as the newly appointed chairman of KPMG’s Financial Services practice in the Netherlands, I share with you how we ourselves want to adapt. I see change in FS as being primarily driven by major, multi-faceted themes as changing business models, digitalization and regulatory and supervisory developments, and my ambition is to let our advisory services respond to this effectively. For us that implies a further shift toward a client-centric and solution-oriented approach in which all of our relevant advisory services — be it Management-, Risk- and IT consulting, Deal Advisory or others — are seamlessly integrated.

So change creates some pressure for us as well, but I hope that together with you we can also embrace the opportunities it brings.

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