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Why Digital Touchpoints Are Integral to Frontline EX-Strategies

By Kit Kyte, CEO, Checkit

The ‘Great Resignation’ has shone a new light on employee experience, yet key deskless workers, who represent 80 per cent of the global workforce, have been left behind. Employee experience strategies have focused on desk-based knowledge workers; there has been a huge investment in their experience, from productivity tools to live chat. Meanwhile, deskless teams lack digital capabilities in their workplaces. That needs to change if employers want to attract and retain essential frontline workers in sectors such as healthcare, hospitality and retail, where staff shortages are beginning to bite.

Deskless workers form the critical staffing and service component of many industries, from catering to cleaning. They are critical to business success, often operating under stress on the frontline to deliver vital services. If anyone was in doubt, the pandemic proved the essential contribution of deskless workers in providing critical services. Yet, that appreciation is not evident in the structures and systems that exist to support them. Generally, they are expected to manage their workloads with paper checklists, spreadsheets, and clunky DIY technology and apps. Recent research has even found that this proportion of the workforce is receiving just one per cent of a company’s software spend.

The digital experience of deskless workers is completely at odds with what they have at home, or what their corporate colleagues enjoy. That’s a problem because deskless workers are walking away in their millions — we are in the grip of the ‘Great Resignation’. Last year, in the leisure and hospitality industries alone, 740,000 employees found their jobs too stressful, and subsequently quit. Leaders must, therefore, establish a more productive and meaningful work experience for their deskless employees if they want to attract and retain talent. These employees need greater digital interaction, autonomy, recognition and a working experience fit for the times we are in.

From Employee Experience to Operational Experience and Back Again

Now consider the strategic impact of poor digital experiences for frontline employees. Outdated reporting and communication methods mean operational leaders are left without the insight they need to respond to changing circumstances, roll out new processes and make better decisions. Operational leaders rely on their deskless workers as their eyes, ears, and hands.

Just as much as deskless workers suffer from a poor analogue experience, their leaders suffer from a lack of actionable metrics across the spectrum of activity: Up-to-date stock and staffing levels, equipment status, temperature and asset security data — you name it, if it’s recorded on paper and provided retrospectively, it’s not helping deliver for the organisation, and can’t be used to create a better employee experience.

Where information is filed away, the flow becomes disjointed and travels very slowly, making analysis difficult and inhibiting the organisation’s ability to make changes. In a world where rapidly shifting conditions demand new levels of vigilance and reinvention, barriers to agility become significant disadvantages across any business function.

Businesses implementing an EX strategy for today’s world must lean on data-driven digital footprints and support to match the pace of change. For frontline employees, this translates not only to greater support, training and personal development opportunities, but greater safety and reduced risk. Employers can ensure safer working conditions by reducing the likelihood of errors and accidents if they have real-time visibility of what’s happening on the frontline. By contrast, legacy paperwork processes and reporting methods are simply slow and prone to errors, leaving both employees and businesses encumbered by ‘dark operations’, where important frontline activity is hidden from view.

Forward-looking organisations are seizing the opportunity. Digitalisation of deskless activity is enabling leaders to provide clear and up-to-the-minute guidance to their deskless workforces. Take digital assistants, as an example. They prompt, guide and capture frontline activity via mobile device in the hands of the worker. Bolstered by predictive analytics, the technology can deliver data back to managers, flagging areas of concern before they arise, while providing a valuable feedback loop, mitigating risk while supporting employees’ growth.

Supporting Employee Engagement and Experience

For an HR leader looking to create better deskless employee experiences, the digitalisation of workflows not only improves engagement but allows procedures to be tested and continually improved. The latest solutions promote connectivity between frontline workers and their head office colleagues. They also bring smarter capabilities to the assets and building systems that deskless workers interact with. Business intelligence dashboards tie these data points together to enhance decision-making at all levels.

This is a transformation that doesn’t have to be difficult. The power of cloud computing bypasses any need for a multi-vendor, multi-year rip-and-replace project. Budgets must be balanced against expected risks and rewards. And if the experiences of COVID, disparate workforces, and supply chain disruptions are anything to go by, most businesses will recognize the need for better connectivity and collaboration across their workforces. They will also recognise the need to improve the employee experience to retain talent and enhance the organisation as a great place to work.

A digital footprint based on solid employee and operational key metrics can propel greater value for the employee, the business, and customers too.

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Business

How to reignite your store with streamlined operations and a distinctive customer experience

Source: Finance Derivative

Colin Neil, MD, Adyen UK

Retailers know that prioritising customer experience is vital to success today. This, amongst the management of complex supply chains and the cost of living crisis is a lot to oversee.

Further, the pandemic has accelerated technology’s role in building a relationship between store and customer. Consumer adoption of digital, cashless payments has accelerated. PwC’s ‘Payments 2025 and Beyond’ report predicted that cashless transactions could triple in volume by 2030. This trend aligns with our own experience of 2021, in which we’ve witnessed a 70% jump in transaction volumes. It demonstrates the rapid digital transformation of retail as pandemic trends amplified the role of ecommerce in online and offline sales.

Operationally, there’s a lot for retailers to think about. The question is: Which are the technologies that will allow them to truly transform the customer experience?

Consider Android mPOS

Traditional mobile POS (mPOS) terminals are a great way to unshackle sales from a static cash-desk, helping to reduce queues and improve the overall shopping experience. However, they’ve also presented some operational challenges. These devices only take payments; they’re unable to scan barcodes or check stock, meaning that sales teams become burdened with a utility-belt’s worth of additional devices to fulfil these needs.

But recently, the entrance of the new Android mPOS terminal has caused a stir since it’s an all-in-one solution that can manage a multitude of functions, via installed apps. This includes: checking a customer’s previous orders and eliminating the need for separate cash registers, barcode scanners, and even customer facing displays.

These devices represent a fundamental change in the role of the payment terminal. Thanks to its app management system, retailers can manage the functions they use every day in a single hand-held device, from inventory management, to loyalty programmes, returns and more.

Palisis, a provider of sales and operations solutions for tourism and transportation businesses, and Immfly, an in-flight digital services provider, are among the first of our customers to roll out the terminals. In doing so, they’re simplifying the management of their business and freeing up staff to focus on the customer experience. Here’s how:

  1. Streamlining operations

Android mPOS terminals let you consolidate your store’s business functions into one device. This is a big benefit for your bottom line, since managing multiple systems and hardware can lead to high costs, from set up to ongoing maintenance. Furthermore, customisation from a centralised location gives an overview of all a retailer’s terminals. Adyen’s Terminal Fleet Manager, for example, is capable of multiple configurations – including terminal location, logo, refunds, receipts etc – remotely.

Consolidating these systems reduces cost of ownership, helping you free up budget for other investments and innovations. It’s also simpler for staff to use the one system, making their jobs much easier, especially during busy periods.

  1. Flexibility to grow

When systems are consolidated on a single device, it’s easier to update and scale technology as your business evolves. For example, if you process payments on a centralised platform, like Adyen, the same software and end-to-end encryption can be quickly rolled out across all your stores, anywhere in the world. You can also cater to customers’ preferred local payment methods, as well as the major global ones, without needing additional terminals or worrying about local acquiring headaches.

On top of that, if all customer-facing channels and backend systems are connected via one platform, you can monitor online and in-person payments in one place. You can recognise and reward loyal customers in real-time, future-proofing the customer experience with invaluable data insights.

  1. Convenience for customers

Mobile devices allow customers to make purchases from anywhere. This has led some retailers to consider doing away with the till area completely. Tesco’s entered this space last year, and Sainsbury’s partnered with Amazon to introduce the experience too. With no cash desks, the store is given over completely to product and service.

Getting your roll out right

Take a look at what our customers Immfly and Palisis have been able to achieve with their roll out. Immfly needed to be able to create and process drinks and snack orders during flights, without involving any extra hardware for air stewards to handle and manage. Its Android S1F2 devices integrate cash register systems directly onto WiFi-enabled terminals via an app, which sync stock levels throughout the flight. Payments can also be taken while offline on both long and short haul flights. These capabilities also mean leading ticketing and reservation tech provider Palisis can use them in many different weather conditions, from ski slopes to tour buses in the world’s biggest cities.

The best customer experiences are convenient and modern payment terminals can help retailers deliver this. Just remember, when you’re looking to roll out any new in-store tech, it’s important to research and pilot the scheme thoroughly. In that way, you’ll be sure to have the best possible impact on your customer experience and ultimately your revenue.

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Business

Wealth Managers and the Future of Trust: Insights from CFA Institute’s 2022 Investor Trust Study

Source: Finance Derivative

Author: Rhodri Preece, CFA, Senior Head of Research, CFA Institute

Corporate responsibility is more important than ever. Today, many investors expect more than just profit from their financial decisions; they want easy access to financial products and to be able to express personal values through their investments. Crucial to meeting these new investor expectations is trust in the financial services providers that enable investors to build wealth and realise personal goals. Trust is the bedrock of client relationships and investor confidence.

The 2022 CFA Institute Investor Trust Study – the fifth in a biennial series – found that trust levels in financial services among retail and institutional investors have reached an all-time high. Reflecting the views of 3,588 retail investors and 976 institutional investors across 15 markets globally, the report is a barometer of sentiment and an encouraging indicator of the trust gains in financial services.

Wealth managers may want to know how this trust can be cultivated, and how they can enhance it within their own organisations. I outline three key trends that will shape the future of client trust.

THE RISE OF ESG

ESG metrics have risen to prominence in recent years, as investors increasingly look at environmental, social and governance factors when assessing risks and opportunities. These metrics have an impact on investor confidence and their propensity to invest; we find that among retail investors, 31% expect ESG investing to result in higher risk-adjusted returns, while 44% are primarily motivated to invest in ESG strategies because they want to express personal values or invest in companies that have a positive impact on society or the environment.

The Trust Study shows us that ESG is stimulating confidence more broadly. Of those surveyed, 78% of institutional investors said the growth of ESG strategies had improved their trust in financial services. 100% of this group expressed an interest in ESG investing strategies, as did 77% of retail investors.

There are also different priorities within ESG strategies, and our study found a clear divide between which issues were top of mind for retail investors compared to institutional investors. Retail investors were more focused on investments that tackled climate change and clean energy use, while institutional investors placed a greater focus on data protection and privacy, and sustainable supply chain management.

What is clear is that the rise of ESG investing is building trust and creating opportunities for new products.

TECHNOLOGY MULTIPLIES TRUST

Technology has the power to democratise finance. In financial services, technological developments have lowered costs and increased access to markets, thereby levelling the playing field. Allowing easy monitoring of investments, digital platforms and apps are empowering more people than ever to engage in investing. For wealth managers, these digital advancements mean an opportunity for improved connection and communication with investors, a strategy that also enhances trust.

The study shows us that the benefits of technology are being felt, with 50% of retail investors and 87% of institutional investors expressing that increased use of technology increases trust in their financial advisers and asset managers, respectively. Technology is also leading to enhanced transparency, with the majority of retail and institutional investors believing that their adviser or investment firms are very transparent.

It’s worth acknowledging here that a taste for technology-based investing varies across age groups. More than 70% of millennials expressed a preference for technology tools to help navigate their investment strategy over a human advisor. Of the over-65s surveyed, however, just 30% expressed the same choice.

THE PULL OF PERSONALISATION

How does an investor’s personal connection to their investments manifest? There are two primary ways. The first is to have an adviser who understands you personally, the second is to have investments that achieve your personal objectives and resonate with what you value.

Among retail investors surveyed for the study, 78% expressed a desire for personalised products or services to help them meet their investing needs. Of these, 68% said they’d pay higher fees for this service.

So, what does personalisation actually look like? The study identifies the top three products of interest among retail investors. They are: direct indexing (investment indexes that are tailored to specific needs); impact funds (those that allow investors to pursue strategies designed to achieve specific real-world outcomes); and personalised research (customised for each investor).

When it comes to this last product, it’s worth noting that choosing advisors with shared values is also becoming more significant. Three-quarters of respondents to the survey said having an adviser that shares one’s values is at least somewhat important to them. Another way a personal connection with clients can be established is through a strong brand, and the proportion of retail investors favouring a brand they can trust over individuals they can count on continues to grow; it reached 55% in the 2022 survey, up from 51% in 2020 and 33% in 2016.

TRUST IN THE FUTURE

As the pressure on corporations to demonstrate their trustworthiness increases, investors will also look to financial services to bolster trust. Wealth managers that embrace ESG issues and preferences, enhanced technology tools, and personalisation, can demonstrate their value and build durable client relationships over market cycles.

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Business

2022 ESG Investment Trends

Source: Finance Derivative

Jay Mukhey, Senior Director, ESG at Finastra

Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) themes have been front and center throughout the pandemic. While the framework has been surging in popularity for several years, COVID-19 served as a period of reflection causing many companies, investors and other individuals to take these factors seriously. It’s something that we can no longer afford to ignore.

Jay Mukhey

We are witnessing drought, adverse weather patterns, hotter climates, and wildfires with more regularity, raising the profile of the climate crisis. Efforts were renewed at COP26 in Glasgow last November to help address the challenge, with the signing of the Glasgow Climate Pact and agreement of the Paris Rulebook. As a result, we are now seeing record net new inflows into ESG investing and impact.

Evaluating ESG criteria

Long gone are the days when ESG issues were at the periphery of a company’s operations. In just a few short years, ESG criteria have become a key metric for investors to evaluate businesses they are considering investing in.

Investor money has poured into funds that consider environmental, social and governance issues. Data from the US SIF Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment shows that ESG funds under management have now reached more than $16.6 trillion. It’s not just institutional investors who are embracing ESG, with Bloomberg Intelligence predicting that savers across the world will amass £30.2 trillion in ESG funds by the end of the year.

Due to the multitude of divergent factors that contribute to a company’s success on ESG, it can be tricky to pin down exactly what criteria to measure. Depending on the industry a company operates within, environmental criteria could include everything from energy usage, the disposal of waste and even the treatment of animals.

Social criteria are primarily related to how a company conducts itself in business relationships and with stakeholders. For example, does it treat suppliers fairly? Is the local community considered when the business makes decisions that would impact them? Do they have a statement and policy around modern slavery?

While governance criteria have traditionally been an afterthought, this may be changing. Everything from executive pay to shareholder rights and internal controls are relevant to investors within these criteria.

Tracking ESG for competitive advantage

Many experts within the financial services industry point to the power of ESG as a major competitive advantage, if used correctly. It has been noted that increasingly corporations, from big Fortune 500 companies down to small scale-ups, will communicate on their sustainability metrics to grow their business and to attract talent. However, it’s no longer enough to just pay lip service to ESG issues, with abstract commitments increasingly being seen as insufficient. Companies must now quickly progress to concrete objectives that can be measured and tracked.

A wide range of data providers now offer detailed information and tools that can measure ESG performance and effectiveness. Yet major challenges remain around bringing together what is often extremely fragmented data and transforming it into actionable insights.

Focus areas for 2022

The ESG criteria that investors measure is by no means stagnant. Complex societal challenges regularly emerge that require the attention of companies. Contributors recognize several topics that demand a sophisticated approach, including the COVID pandemic, diversity challenges and powerful social movements.

Companies operating within the financial services sector face several specific challenges related to ESG, with contributors believing that fintech will also continue to play a central role in finding answers to them. For example, industry experts expect customers to be more demanding of firms in SME lending when it comes to understanding exactly what impact they are having on the climate. For many financial services firms, 2022 will be the year that they will try to reduce the time it takes to bring ESG products and services to market, such as green loans and mortgages, as well as checking accounts with sustainability and carbon tracking capabilities.

When selecting a service provider, customers are increasingly interested in the ESG credentials of their bank or financial institution. Research from PwC finds that 80% of consumers are more likely to buy from a company that stands up for environmental and governance issues. Consumers are one of the main drivers of ESG and many are putting their money where their mouth is. It’s a trend that’s not going away; financial institutions need to start implementing their strategy for ESG now.

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