How Has This Pandemic Changed the Way We Do Business?

by C/A Staff

Doing business in the uncertainties of 2020 has forced industries across the world to reassess their day-to-day. While we as a nation work through things like working from home and sheltering in place, we are adapting to a new way of life. This has come in the form of new communication channels, new ways to socialize and yes, even new ways to make our everyday business practices happen.

From changing the business processes to the products offered, business as a whole will most likely never be the same. Every crisis we go through tends to make subtle changes in the way we live our lives and do our jobs, so even though life’s essentials don’t change, the way we provide for them sometimes has to, forcing us to adapt.  And while change is inevitable, it is important to understand what has and hasn’t changed from the financial industry standpoint.

History has proven that we will always need a monetary system and access to financial institutions.  On both the federal and state levels, governments have acknowledged this need, and given guidance through regulation. The federal government has placed regulations on the way we conduct business to make sure we have a fair and unbiased access to financial services. Changing technology, innovative ways of communicating, and the ability to conduct financial transactions without being physically present had an impact on the financial industry well before the current pandemic.

For example, even before the coronavirus pandemic, consumer and small business banking were facing challenges that ranged from threats of digital attacks, changes in the way our customers do business, their ever-increasing expectations, and changes in the economy. 

On top of that, today we as an industry are faced with changing workplace dynamics, changes in the corporate governance, changes in our entire bank culture, as well as changes in our customers routines.  These are all reasons the consumer and small-business bank of tomorrow is likely to look very different than it did yesterday.

Change can be a great thing when approached in a measured manner. We know that having separation from customers will increase the complexity of products and programs offered; they will become more dependent on external communication methods. Many financial institutions have adopted electronic processes to bridge prior gaps. With the increase in competition and the growing need to retain customers, the industry has already started making the necessary changes to adapt.

Many of these changes have allowed for the financial institutions to even incentivize consumers who are spending money at establishments that could be at risk of going under. We have seen bonus plans implemented to give back to those consumers supporting local restaurants, grocery stores, and other essential businesses. These innovative approaches allow consumers to continue operating in the new world of social distancing without having to limit spending or avoid supporting other businesses also being affected by the pandemic.

While the industry is working to adapt, there is one constant: all institutions have to stay compliant with regulations. Even though some regulations have been delayed or suspended during this time, it is imperative that we as an industry do not take this for granted and let our internal processes get loose. We have seen many financial institutions closing due to fears of the spread of COVID-19, and then we have others who have taken steps to still provide services with limited interaction. No matter the method, it is essential to be able to support our customers and equally important to ensure all aspects of the regulatory requirements are addressed and followed.

Remember, as an essential business structure, it is the financial industry’s responsibility to continue to innovate and maintain compliance in the process. This too shall pass, but will leave us with a new normal. Be sure to embrace the lessons learned and use this as a learning experience to continue to offer solutions as we always have.