Capgemini’s Bill Sullivan on how the finserv market has changed over the past 7 years and where it’s headed

future of financial services

Bill Sullivan is the Global Head of Market Intelligence at Capgemini

What role does market intelligence play in Capgemini’s business?

I see Market Intelligence addressing two primary roles in Capgemini. The first is more externally focused on Brand Enhancement. The second is more internally focused on Growth Enablement.

Bill Sullivan, Capgemini
Bill Sullivan, Capgemini

For Brand Enhancement, my team is focused on developing thought leadership to help our clients maneuver through this incredibly challenging environment. I believe we are uniquely positioned as a truly global organization covering the full gamut of business consulting, technology, and business services. Our major FS thought leadership (e.g., World Wealth Report, World Retail Banking Report, World Payments, Report, and World Insurance Report) is all developed by my team (with strong collaboration with our global network).

The real differentiated value comes from the power of that global expert network, input from our clients, and the primary research which feeds into it. For each report, our global network of domain experts (typically across 15 to 20 countries) run up to 200 CxO interviews (per Report) to discuss burning platforms facing our clients (and prospects) and to dive into that year’s specific topic. We also run some of the most extensive, broad reaching Voice of the Customer surveys in the industry, annually covering over 35,000 financial services customers in 30 countries to directly capture their experiences and expectations of financial institutions. Lastly, we are able to tap into our nearly 25k professionals who work with our FS clients by holding regular workshops with our global domain experts (both during the scoping/hypothesis generation stage and key findings development). We typically have a dozen countries represented by their top domain experts providing personal expertise, as well as leading practices they are seeing with our clients.

Also relatively unique to Capgemini is that our Global Sales and Global Marketing teams sit under the same leader to enable our ~2 billion Euro FS business. This allows us to ensure all of our marketing and thought leadership activities are closely aligned with our core business objectives and client agendas. While we never push our offerings or solutions in our thought leadership, the CxO interviews we conduct and the report findings briefings we share with our clients are all invaluable to building our client relationships and to opening new doors. This helps position Capgemini’s brand as a firm that fully understands the industry (both the business and technology side), that we are at the cutting edge of where it is going, and we know how to help our clients through their transformation journey.

Lastly, the role that social media and new channels provide is also exciting (and complicated). We no longer just release a report and send out a press release. All of our content has to be customized for each channel – tier 1/trade media, social media (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook Slideshare, Youtube), video, infographics, microsites, an app for our thought leadership, by-line articles, and the list goes on.

As for Growth Enablement, my team is also responsible for developing all of our external intelligence to support our financial services business growth with actionable insights to guide strategic vision, thinking, and planning. This covers the full spectrum of tracking key trends in the industry, what’s happening with our competition, and key insights into our top (and prospect) accounts, and tracking the growth of the professional services market.

You’ve been recognized by various sources as an influencer within the financial services sphere. Why do you think that is and how did you build your personal brand?

I have to admit, it has been a humbling experience and an incredible honor to be recognized by numerous lists as a key influencer in the financial services space.

To be completely candid, I believe much of the credit goes to a combination of

  1. Capgemini and our incredible team of domain experts which I learn from on a daily basis
  2. a phenomenal network of fintech influencers who graciously share their insights on the industry via social media
  3. some real commitment and dedication to taking a proactive effort to take social approach in monitoring the space and to curating and sharing content and insights (both our own great Capgemini insights, but even more so the great content from my own influencer list).

On the first point, Capgemini is leading the industry with our Group-sponsored Expert Connect program which recognizes the importance of social and encourages its leaders to get involved and actively engaged in social networks. This is how I was first encouraged to set up my Twitter account three years ago.

As for my own personal influencers, I published a post last month acknowledging my “go-to” list of 30 fintech influencers. This list (and my expanded go-to list of about 250 Twitter accounts) provide more insights (and real-time) around what is happening in the fintech space than the 10 best news sources combined. Lastly, it really has taken a lot of commitment and consistency to curate and share content.  The majority of the content  shared is 3rd party, curated content which I come across in my research or from my Influencer list.  That being said, it has also given me a great mechanism and channel to promote the great insights from our own thought leadership.  The success and the acknowledgement received is from a combination of the great content curation, daily discussions, as well as my own personal (and Capgemini’s) insights.  I had a great discussion with Jay Palter (check it out here) last year walking through my approach.

You recently released your US Wealth Report. What were some of the major trends/takeaways for businesses servicing this demographic?

While I value all of the thought leadership my team develops, our wealth reports really are closest to my heart.  This past year was our 19th annual edition of the World Wealth Report (13th I’ve been part of). Our U.S. Wealth Report is relatively new and only in its second year. This past year’s USWR found the U.S. HNWI (over $1m in investable financial assets) population and wealth grew robustly to break existing record levels with growth concentrated in Texas and the West Coast.  While Asia-Pacific passed North America to host the largest number of HNWIs, the U.S. is still the largest country of HNWIs with over $1 trillion in HNWI wealth added in 2014. In fact, the five largest HNWI population U.S. cities (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington DC, and San Francisco) are each larger than India (the 11th largest HNWI country population worldwide). You can also check out my summary of this year’s findings here.

We also found younger HNWIs are disrupting the U.S. wealth industry by expressing non-traditional preferences and behaviors especially for digital services, including a very strong interest in automated advisory services. Globally, we found nearly 50% of HNWIs would consider leveraging a roboadvisor. However, when you look at the under 30s, that rose to almost 90%. While still relatively new, automated advisory services (or roboadvisors) are growing at a rapid pace with significant market potential. While we don’t expect robos to replace wealth managers, we do believe firms will need to complement their existing advisory base with these services to prepare for the next wave of digital innovation. We actually just held an incredible webinar with LinkedIn discussing this theme with some industry leaders at Betterment, Motif Investing, OpenFolio, and Wells Fargo. You can check out my recap and listen here.

How has the finserv market changed over the past 7 years in your role? Where do you think it’s headed?

That’s a great question! If you look back at 2009, we were still in the wake of the 2007/2008 financial crisis.  Firms were still in cost cutting mode, were completely inundated with regulatory burden, and desperately looking to earn back the trust and confidence of their customers. What little “discretionary spend” they had was largely focused on putting some bandaids on their front office to address siloed digital channels. Bank executives acknowledged the need to fix their outdated legacy systems and to find ways to be more agile. However, investments always seemed to focus on short-term fires than long-term planning. We would often hear “we know we have to address this or that, but there is still plenty of time” or “it is too complicated” or “it would cost too much”.

If we look at banks today, I don’t think any executive will tell you they are not burdened by regulations. However, it does seem to be dropping from the top priority. We are finding that despite significant investments in improving the client experience, overall experience levels are on the decline (especially for Gen Y). Banking customers, old and young, are having their expectations set by the Googles, Amazons, and Apples of the world. I think Chris Skinner summed it up perfectly on a panel I was moderating last year when he equated historical banking efforts to “putting lipstick on a pig”. It doesn’t matter how many bells and whistles you put on your channels, if the back-office isn’t agile enough to keep up, those investments are not going to deliver the full value.

We have started to see non-traditional players start to enter the space and play very well in specific pieces of the value chain. They have the ability to be more agile, simpler, and more transparent. Whether it is new fintechs, or technology firms like Google, banks are quickly realizing their legacy systems are not capable of keeping up. This is going to be the biggest challenge moving forward. What strategy are banks going to take in terms of building internally, partnering with fintech, or acquiring fintech. I think there is general acknowledgment that there is very little time left to wait and see how it plays out. It’s an exciting time to be in Financial Services and I think we have only seen the tip of the iceberg of how the industry is going to evolve.