Report finds financial leaders prioritising business growth in 2021

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FINANCIAL reports have found that financial leaders from across the world are optimistic for the sector as it goes in 2021.

The new  ‘State of the Industry’ report called Alive to Opportunity approached over 200 financial service leaders across  Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the Americas (EMEA) and Asia.

Leaders had recovery from coronavirus second on their priority list as they stated during 2021 they would be focussing on ensuring business growth.

42% of Business leaders said they would be focussing on coronavirus recovery while 57% said they would focus on growth.

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Barclays conducted a survey of over 200 financial services leaders, from these senior executives, Barclays Corporate Banking found that optimism in the sector is high as it enters into 2021.

Phil Bowkley, Global Head of Financial Institutions Group, Barclays Corporate Banking, said: “Given that 2020 was such a tumultuous year, it is encouraging to hear FinTech businesses are confident and focused on future growth.

“Many firms have grasped the upheaval of the global pandemic as an opportunity. Covid-19 has driven a huge surge in ecommerce and cross-border business.

“This has significantly increased flows across FinTech payment providers, which have worked hard to enable cross-border trade, payments and ecommerce.

“At the same time, the industry has been collaborating with banks to ensure much-needed financial support from government flows to the real economy.”

The report saw a continuation of a  trend seen in 2019, respondents often rated their own region as the most likely source of future innovation.

This ‘home’ bias was particularly strong in Asia-Pacific, where China, India, Japan and Southeast Asia together claimed over 83% of regional votes when considering the key sources of innovation over the next five years.

However, China’s reign as the most likely site of financial services innovation did not continue from 2019, with Barclays’ most recent survey.

24% of  key industry leaders now view the United States as the most probable location for the rise of payment innovation over the next five years.

Barclays’ research also suggests that Asia-Pacific may be the new focal point for expectations around Open Banking, with interest from Europe dropping year-on-year.

In 2019’s report, the impact of this key regulation was anticipated to be strongest in Europe.

The report found just 38% of EMEA leaders now expect Open Banking to have a big impact on their business.

By contrast, the majority 59% of senior respondents from Asia-Pacific feel that the regulation will be key for their companies as we move into the remainder of 2021.

Firms’ confidence in their own cybersecurity dropped by 5% versus 2019, with 42% of respondents feeling satisfied with their business’ approach to the issue.

Businesses in EMEA feel least confident about their security provisions, with 33% indicating that their own cyber security needs further investment.

The importance of resilience to customers was also a theme that many felt would rise in significance in 2020.

This is  due to the recent growth in remote working as a response to Covid-19 – however just 5% of respondents viewed this issue as important when considering customer loyalty.

 Steve Lappin, Managing Director, Barclaycard Business, said: “From remote working to e-commerce, coronavirus has meant that digital channels play a much greater role in working life. While this has undoubtedly presented new opportunities, it has also put additional pressure on infrastructure and heightened potential vulnerability to attacks.

“Therefore, it’s not surprising that confidence in cybersecurity has dropped, with many firms feeling that their rapid adoption of these new channels has left governance and control lagging behind.

“It’s critical that businesses remain vigilant – security may not be a key driver of customer loyalty, but cybersecurity issues are definitely a driver of disloyalty.”