Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Day 1 at the FSC: leaders talk challenge & opportunity

A guest post by BlueChip senior Paul Cheal attending the Financial Services Council annual conference.

Day 1 of the FSC out with a relaxed "chinwag" with some of the industry's leaders discussing the challenges and opportunities facing the industry.

From the Insurance industry was Jim Minto of TAL who was joined by John Van Der Wielen of ANZ and fund manager SSGI's Rob Goodlad.

The group kicked talking about regulation, which according to 3/4 of 200 respondents to a delegate survey was singled out as the greatest challenge in the last 18 months.

The panel agreed that while legislation will 'be what it will be', the response should be forward looking - adapting and getting ready to move fast once details are finalized.

Picking up on Minister Shorten's comment that we (as an industry) do tend to talk to ourselves, the speakers identified "consumer-centricity" as a key driver of growth - understanding the consumer, giving them confidence. It's not the process, It's the outcome, speakers suggested. The winners will be the ones who become more consumer centric and adapt to new technologies to interact directly with clients.

According to the delegate survey the opportunities ahead will arise from growth and consolidation. For insurance that opportunity was the issue of underinsurance, for ANZ it was not about predicting the future but being across all distribution channels while State Street saw ETFs as the great democratization product for all investors, especially for SMSFs.

In Navigating this Change (the theme of the conference) the capabilities organisations will need are:
- Lower costs - especially in Super
- Operation efficiency
- Organization memory
- Adapting to new technology to deliver solutions to consumers

The conclusion ? The salad days are over. The days of flash cars in the Macquarie carpark are apparently over. There will be more consolidation, increased pressure on fees and redundancies.

On that sobering note it's off for cocktails.

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