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The secret to any strong relationship is good listening skills, especially in banking. The deep troves of transaction data held by banks and credit unions contain countless small clues to suggesting what consumers need. But financial marketers that don’t listen to the story their data tells risk putting people off. Used correctly, data-driven insights lead to much more than just a one-time cross-sell.

Data speaks volumes, but are Financial Marketers listening? “But how can you possibly listen to every consumer? Even if you have superbly trained and talented customer-facing staff (a point covered below), they only deal with a diminishing number of consumers. The answer in large measure is transaction analytics — tools that cleanse, tag, and categorize massive amounts of data at scale. This is the foundation for turning insight into action. The more accurately the data is tagged and indexed the more effective machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) will be.”

KPMG’s latest report was published: The Pulse of Fintech 2018. “Globally, $57.9 billion was invested in FinTech firms in the first half of the year. These figures were slightly inflated by the $14 billion funding round by Ant Financial in China and Vantiv’s acquisition of WorldPay for $12.9 billion. Nevertheless, most countries saw some uptick. Brazil, for example, gained some prominence as Nubank joined the FinTech unicorn club. France, Switzerland, South Korea and Japan also saw significant FinTech deals — extending investment well beyond traditional FinTech leaders like the US, UK, China and India.”

Make your wise pivot to the new. “The success stories of tomorrow will be determined by C-level executives who know how and when to focus on innovation-led initiatives that can release value fast in the legacy and new businesses. Rather than waiting, these courageous leaders will tilt toward the future before others do—and in doing so, reinvent their organizations on their own terms.”

Unsure where to start with digital transformation? Follow your customers’ lead. “Digital transformation is a daunting task, but it doesn’t need to be a paralyzing one. In fact, by starting with customer communications, you can make the transformation process genuinely exciting.”

Why Data Curation is vital to your Financial Services Firm. “Studies have shown that 90% of the time knowledge workers spend creating new reports is spent recreating information that already exists. In my work with banking clients, I have often seen other issues, including confusion about the context of a specific piece of data (e.g., interest rate). A bank has many database fields called “interest rate,” but which is for bonds versus for loans? This situation makes the data guru who has been around for a long time very valuable from a job security standpoint, but impedes everyone else’s productivity.”

What it takes to think deeply about complex problems. “Above all, managing complexity requires courage ­— the willingness to sit in the discomfort of uncertainty and let its rivers run through us. The best practice is to not overrely on best practices, which typically emerge from our current assumptions and worldview. “In complex systems,” says leadership consultant Zafar Achi, “there is no recipe, only art.”