Following an 18 month break, Deloitte Midlands’ Annual Financial Services Dinner returned with renewed optimism as Financial Services organisations continue to rise to the threat of ‘FinTech’ and the move towards a digital economy.
Bringing together almost 100 of the sector’s most influential industry leaders from across the region – including banks, building societies, asset managers, insurers, and non-standard lenders – it is the ideal time to capture the challenges and opportunities the financial services sector face and gauge the overall health of the Midlands economy.
And, we were not disappointed. 18 months ago, there was no Brexit, no looming general election and no mayoral campaign but as always, the sector remains pragmatic and continues to focus on where it can make a real difference to customers and the local economy.
Despite the continued threat of ‘FinTech’ and other non-traditional financial services firms, focus has predictably turned towards facing the digital challenge.
A third (33%) of those who attended are already preparing to invest in new IT systems with over sixty per cent devoting increased attention to data protection and mitigating cyber-risk over the next year.
Digital was also front of mind when recruiting too and although the survey showed that retaining and attracting the right mix of talent was a challenge, almost a fifth of those who attended put IT recruitment at the top of their list.
Despite the threat of Brexit and the uncertainty it brings, confidence levels remain high with the survey showing a fifth of attendees were considering M&A activity in the next 12 months. Brexit planning was a concern for just six per cent.
Unsurprisingly, organisations continue to make investment in their risk management functions as the sector continues to focus on growth plans, combat the threat of ‘FinTech’ and changes to the regulatory environment.
The past 18 months have been a challenge, but the Midlands financial services sector is flexing to meet the changes both digitally and within the economy. Changing consumer preferences coupled with the increase in cyber-related risk has seen the sector respond positively, which is encouraging for the future.