In March Anne Lise gave a talk to an intimate group at the Accenture, European Financial Services CIO Forum. Some of the questions Anne lise addressed with her talk were:

1. How do you spot a real trend out of the many potential ideas and innovations which appear every year ?

2. What are the major trends driving consumer and customer behaviour over the next 5-10 years ?

3. What implications could this have for financial services

Browse the presentation and read the executive summary

What Matters to People in an Age of Transparency?
As the quantity of information at our fingertips increases, so too do the challenges of keeping up with analysis, pattern spotting and extracting useful information. So how will the future shape this process and our approach to business?

First we must understand that we are active participants in shaping the future – we make it happen. This requires vision, but also an understanding of both key society drivers and the mindsets of the people we want to address. With data overload, we need a system that talks to us in an informed way – a platform that links our data in an integral and inspirational way.

Consumption Review
Value sets are shifting and new business models are set to emerge. There are huge opportunities here, but we must also recognise that people’s priorities have changed. With consumption no longer the end goal in society, people’s whole approach to earning, saving and spending money is clearly up for review – they are looking for personal empowerment.

Successful brands act as facilitators, enabling people to achieve higher quality of life. They are Empowerment Brands.  Empathic Leadership is key to this. Increasingly people ask: “how can I get more out of my life?”, and plausibility can only be achieved when businesses facilitate, educate and inspire, as well as adopting a sound ethical philosophy. In the future this will become a given – products, services and experiences powered by ethics and human emotion will win out. It’s fair to say that the FS sector is not universally popular right now. So, to build trust, even banks must adopt a Triple-P approach: People, Planet, Profit.

The New Norm
Sustainability is the new norm and investing in a greener future is not only crucial but also makes good business sense. Companies and countries pioneering this approach are seeing huge benefits and ‘green’ is already influencing how we do business in dramatic ways.

But contrasts co-exist and this presents tough challenges for businesses bombarded with contradictory media messages and data. Consumers demand on the one hand transparency and ethics and on the other more choice and discounts. To balance these two contrasting demands requires whole brain thinking. Left brain (analysis/detail) and right brain (bigger picture) thinking must come together to enable organisations to think from the outside in. In other words, you must understand how your customers see you to effect positive innovation.

Key Society Drivers
A key tool for this process is Trend Mapping – a shortcut that helps to decode cultural contexts in society, reveal the bigger picture and identify challenges and opportunities that will impact on us in the future. To assist with this process we use our Trend Atlas to navigate the future. Here are eight key drivers on our Atlas that will affect FS now and in the next decade.

1. Total Transparency is the new norm and trust goes hand in hand with transparency in a world of online exposure. Your future depends on accountability and requires a personable and honest approach and fair storage and use of personal data.

2. Empowerment Technology and Convenience means we now manage life, work and socialising wherever we are. A new generation raised on the freedoms created by technology expects more empowerment and lower-cost financial products.

3. Cloud Culture and Dialogue gives us ‘real-time’ talk on the cloud, feeding our desire for instant gratification. Participation in social media is essential in the era of dialogue, FS brands need a language that encourages honest conversation to develop products that enrich lives.

4. New Economies and Glocalisation are having a profound impact, giving local flavour and cultural capital the edge over global competition. Brilliant business models are never anonymous – they adapt to local communities and enable people to connect with the brand

5. Clean Tech and Conscious Consumption mean sustainable approaches must sit alongside transparency as a core business strategy. Nurturing genuinely green initiatives inspires loyalty and trust, and business (not government) will drive this ecologically intelligent future.

6. Global Sustainers work to make the world a better place, and ‘real’ wealth is now measured in how much you give away. A generous and ethical mindset that addresses inequalities through community-centric and philanthropic approaches will reap great rewards.

7. Personal Fulfilment is reflected in both rising health concerns and the boom in life coaching and personal pampering. Concepts such as money coaching and finance makeovers tap into the widespread desire for less stress and a ‘better informed’ quality of life.

8. Happiness Hunting is now a serious business proposition, as governments, companies and individuals look beyond the balance sheet and explore how to make the world a happier place. What is certain is that this will be a hot topic for business in the coming decade.

Contrasting Mindsets
So how do these eight trends affect Tomorrow’s People and customers? We live in a polarised society made up of patchwork tribes who share common lifestyle and value sets across conventional geographic borders. This moves us away from traditional demographics into a more profound and holistic understanding of people. Society is made up of contrasting mindsets – Hunters (Me People) and Gatherers (We People). Successful FS products must target both groups.

On a rational level, people demand ease of access, mobility and connectivity to drive Empowerment – transparency and Openess is a must for corporate integrity and trust. On an emotional level, people expect ‘good value’ and ethics within a caring corporate Community – genuine dialogue is essential for Engagement and People-Centric brand experiences.

Here are four mindsets to illustrate what matters to your customers.

  • Urban Pragmatics bond with informed propositions that provide engagement and efficiency. Inspire people by offering unique and intelligent financial products and services with a human touch-point and a sense of personal control and ‘ownership’.
  • Cultural Explorers enjoy community, interaction and lasting relationships based on trust. Give them ‘real-time’ dialogue and a sense of partnership and remember that they value exchange of knowledge.
  • Global Sustainers enjoy participation, authentic experiences and thinking differently. They also like to feel important, so foster a culture of collaboration and sharing and a spirit of working for the common good.
  • Karma Hunters want the ‘real thing’ and expect honest and meaningful values. Look for untraditional and stimulating ways of communicating your brand story and tell them what you are doing to make a difference.

A Paradigm Shift
As the four mindsets above demonstrate, we are experiencing a paradigm shift and life priorities are changing. People are saying: “don’t tell me, show me!”. Connecting with others requires empathy. It is about finding the ability to inspire and empower. Understand too that people – whether they work for you or buy from you – have higher standards and more complex decision making processes than ever before. They also expect more meaningful choices, so whatever you offer must be presented in an ethical and honest package.

Empathic Leadership
We cannot underestimate the future importance of sustainability and ethics. Empathic Leaders will be those who think from the outside in and feel from the inside out

Finally, remember that the future is not some place we go – we actively create and shape our world. And in order to do this successfully, we must learn how to embrace change and think differently. Equally important is the courage to face future challenges positively and with a spirit of hope.

Talk: Accenture, March 2010

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