I do a lot of work in Financial Services nowadays. Taking part in projects is one thing, sharing opinions & discussing visions with plethora of people who do the same is very important as well - they provide a lot of insight that is not necessarily aligned with what I personally think.
But honestly, majority of them keeps telling the same stuff:
Banks, insurance companies, etc. should focus on keeping their customers on their WWW sites / in their mobile apps as long as possible: to increase the probability of additional financial product (credit, investment, insurance) sale
To make sites / apps more attractive, these companies should utilize social media ideas / integrate with existing social media platforms ("collaborative banking", gamification theory, etc.)
As they can't force the customer to verbalize his non-articulated needs, more & more product offers should be presented - maybe user will find at least one of them appealing enough. Just make them unskippable to make sure that user notices them & reads as much as possible.
Internet / mobile channel should be perceived as a modern replacement of traditional branch - in other words: all what you could get from a real person in branch, you should not have available in browser's window / your mobile phone
This really is NOT how IT (to be precise - software) could aid financial services business in a meaningful way. At least this is not my way of thinking about it.
Not that kind of end-user product
For a typical person, financial product is not a target itself, it's usually a mean to get the actual target. A burden that has to be dealt with to enable options / achieve goals. It's like damn logistics or delivery service - you want it smooth, efficient & cheap, just to forget about it ASAP after the interaction. Unpleasant necesity to be kept to minimum level because:
- there's (and won't be) nothing cool about banking itself - nothing to boast about; can you imagine social banking "trends" / "fashion"? :) Me neither - zero coolfactor. Period.
- your personal finance is a very intimate sphere of life: there are several reasons you don't want "to go public" with the details (security, savoir vivre, nature of money as a resource)
Of course it doesn't mean there's no hope: they key is to make finacial services more convenient, faster & simplier (without or with limited sacrificing the security - vide PayPass or other contactless payments). To make banking more cool, you have to hide it deeper ;) - make it more an engine that runs other (external) services. Like a cable TV provider - doesn't have to be cool itself, but has to serve as a frictionless medium that provides the cool content.
Software is capable of much more
Just imagine ...
... that you don't even have to visit bank website to get a purposeful loan; because you get it DIRECTLY from a retailer's site, it's just one of the payment options. So, for instance - banking services available via Open API. Identifying a user may be tricky, but have you heard about the way Klarna is operating?
... fully outsourcing (as an individual entrepreneur) all your financial settlements (with your personal clients, material suppliers, etc.) to a bank - so you can focus on the core of your entrepreneurship (industry services) only. CRM, service portfolio, accounting & invoicing, payments (mobile PoS) & settlements - everything to run the business would be outsourced to someone who knows this drill & quite likely can do it better (bank).
... that you're not spammed in product offers when logging in. Instead, banking site works like an personal advisor (that has A LOT of information about you already & knows how to process it to extract the actual knowledge about you, to LEARN you) - it suggests you something that may benefit you with the actual rationale (analysis & calculations) that lend credibility & justify the advice (that would help to convince the end-user that it's not a spam ...):
Within last 6 months your balance have never dropped below X USD (min level = Y USD on ...), if you keep your incomes & spendings on that level, you can easily start a short-period investment for up to Z USD.
During last 9 months, you've been renewing your 3-month fund. If you consider swapping that with another type of fund, in the similar conditions you could save around K USD within 9 monhts period.
... site that doesn't attack you with zillion of options & hundreds of products - I DON'T want to browse tons of tables & compare interest rates for different periods of time. I DON'T want to calculate IRRs/APRs manually in a spreadsheet. SIM-PLI-FY. I want a trivial, clear wizard that asks me 3-4 straightforward questions (with credible suggestions based on my past behavior), presents me 2-3 viable options & concludes with expected benefit (quite preferrably with some kind of comparison against the competition)
... you don't have to read (& compare) 200 pages of formal regulations every 3 months (because 2 meaningful lines have changed), because your bank aids you with highlighting just the changed parts (added, modified, removed) & easy navigation between these.
All of the ones above have a one thing in common - they aren't just innovative & clearly beneficial to the consumer, but also can be achieved thanks to smart application of software products / service.