With the impressive pace at which businesses are adopting change – Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, Cloud and Digital solutions have now become a mantra chanted in most business circles making it the new ‘ABCD’. Is this the future of financial services products? Rakesh Singh, Product Manager for Tick History, explores.
- Successful products are centered around the liveliest of creatures – ‘People’ using the products – A product’s “raison d’etre” or its very purpose for existence is to serve a specific problem confronting people.
- Consolidation witnessed in the financial services industry is enough evidence that partnerships are key to success.
- Any given product cannot attempt to answer all problems, and therefore, a platform that supports interoperability between multiple products is essential in today’s complex financial markets ecosystem.
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The future of financial services products
Whilst ABCD has undeniable merits and here to stay, I am not convinced about keeping on top of these technological advancements alone guarantees success for products as their application, adoption & relevance may significantly vary.
What could be the strategy guiding product managers in the financial services industry?
The Financial Services industry, in particular, is witnessing increasing volatility and changes, e.g. SPACs / Special Purpose Acquisition Companies outnumbering traditional IPOs, companies using newer avenues to going public / raising additional capital via Direct Listings, trading in U.S. equities over the counter is close to volumes in the lit markets (in part due to increase in retail trading), and more. With so much going on, what could be the strategy guiding product managers? I think the answer is simple and rests in the 3 Ps (i.e. People – Partnership – Platform).
People and financial services products
People: Some eastern philosophies believe life exists in non-living things, and products certainly have a life.
Successful products are centred around the liveliest of creatures – ‘People’ using the products – A product’s “raison d’etre” or its very purpose for existence is to serve a specific problem confronting people.
Products built and constantly refined keeping the users’ underlying motivation, workflows, and end-to-end experience in mind and heart have been successful, and the future will be no different.
I will extend this principle to people servicing the product. For example, developers that code the product, QA engineers that test features / functionalities, sales and marketing teams engaged in sales and promotion, or customer service representatives that provide support.
If they all carry a strong sense of product ownership, there will be a dream-like collaboration seen in the most successful sports teams, and a very active feedback cycle resulting in catching a trend or even a limitation in the early stages all the way from ‘ideation’ to a ‘solution’.
Investment in people will provide the biggest opportunity for products to succeed in a future of unknowns and even extend a vector of differentiation.
Financial services product partnerships
Partnership: Consolidation witnessed in the financial services industry is enough evidence that partnerships are key to success.
We are likely past the days of proprietary offering, and in today’s dynamic business environment where time is money, products attempting to do-it-all may find themselves in a bind given the constant change in the market landscape.
And therefore, products must consider joining forces with businesses to serve common users or in some cases the consolidated offering may even bridge whitespace prevailing in the market.
To state the obvious, successful partnerships, just as relationships, do not require the parties to be identical, but it’s important to capitalize on each other’s strengths. In the context of products, it is offering a solution where the combined offering is greater than the individual solution.
An example of such synergies is managed data services provided on the public cloud where analysis is carried out on the fly and thus saving end-users the complexities around the movement of data, operating an ETL infrastructure, subsequent storage, etc.
Financial services product platforms
Platform – do you recall a certain enterprise that for years dominated the market with its search engine, mail services, messenger, etc., and still went out of business?
With the benefit of hindsight, it is believed that a limited / non-existent product-platform strategy was the underlying cause of the failure as it had become too expensive to service individual products in silos minus a platform.
At a time when market participation is increasingly getting democratized (in part due to zero-commission trading, trading in fractional shares, etc.), to remain successful, products must aim to be lightweight, served by a robust platform that can scale to demands of modern-day disparate users, data discoverability must be a breeze, and data from multi-sources must be meshed seamlessly.
It is worth repeating, any given product cannot attempt to answer all problems, and therefore, a platform that supports interoperability between multiple products is essential in today’s complex financial markets ecosystem.
The 3 Ps are the basics, and as they say in sports, Basics are the Fabric of the game. I think the 3 Ps is a useful tool that should guide strategies for financial services products (or products in any other industry for that matter).