7 learnings for now and next in legacy financial institutions

Learn what leading executives see as challenges and opportunities for the financial institutions


Earlier this year, Frontira Strategic Design organised and curated the 12th Empowering Agile Conference focusing on the state of innovation in the financial services sector diving into the imperative to innovate as a means of both surviving and thriving in a world often running ahead of it. Check out the full recording of the conference here: Empowering Agile: Financial Services. 

In parallel with the conference we surveyed  147 senior business leaders working in the financial services sector and talked to real practitioners, those on the front line about innovation in their respective companies. Some of the interviews, with insightful perspectives and experiences can be found here: Expert Interviews.

This short report is a summary of our findings from the extensive questionnaire with the financial services professionals.

Innovation in Financial Services - subscribe to receive our 2021 report

We have recently surveyed 148 business leaders working in the financial services sector to find out all about the state of innovation in disruptive times.

Subscribe the receive the first copy of the report once it’s released.

What will you learn about:

  • Catalysts and drivers of pushing innovation initiatives in large financial institutions.
  • The playgrounds that are most explored when considering innovation as a growth engine for the organization.
  • Resources and tools that are most applied in financial services innovation projects.
  • The biggest hurdles to jump and barriers to breakdown in achieving meaningful outcomes that the organisation is counting on.

Bonus content: The industries considered as most in danger of disruption, detailed survey results and methodology in the appendix.


1: Innovation is key to survival of financial services companies 

  • 45% of financial services leaders surveyed stated that innovation should be THE most important activity for driving success in their companies.
  • ‘It’s a necessity for a long-term sustainable business. It needs to be understood, incorporated into company culture and its operations.’ – Lenka Pincot, Head of Agile Transformation Raiffeisenbank CZ


2: Customer-centricity is the top ingredient to making innovation projects successful

  • 52% of financial services professional believe that building innovations in a customer-centric and iterative way is the key to success
  • At the same time, 37% of the respondents score their organizational ability to define customer pain points as average
  • 26% of respondents believe they need more and better customer feedback to deliver better innovation 


3: Digitalization is the main innovation driver at financial services companies

  • 64% of respondents name digitalisation as the main driver of innovation. 
  • ‘With digital banks having a good grasp on these success factors, platforms like Revolut and N26 roll out on average 2.4 customer-facing innovations each month. That’s a high benchmark for legacy banks to meet.’ – Frontira


4: Budget restraint is the top element hindering innovation at financial services companies

  • Top 3 elements hindering innovation the companies according to finance professionals
    • 37% mention budget restraints
    • 33% mention too long time to market
    • 32% mention lack of comprehensive innovation strategy
  • ‘The main hurdle that I see is ourselves. Our hurdles come from aligning on how we do innovation at Danske Bank, setting and balancing priorities. It can be tricky to balance prioritization. For example, when you have a ‘triangle’ between CX, regulation and efficiency, which should lead and drive critical decisions?’ – Mads Lundgård, Danske Bank


5: According to finance professionals, financial services industry is ripe for disruption

  • 59% of professionals name the financial as most vulnerable and ripe for disruption
  • 49% of surveyed professionals admit that most of their innovation projects fail at scaling phase despite having sufficing in-house skills in the area


6: Top business goal for financial services in the upcoming months is all about exploring new opportunities with existing clients 

  • 53% of respondents believe that the top business goal for financial services in the coming months is introducing new products to existing customers
  • At the same time, new product and service development is a top priority for 63% of surveyed professionals


7: SCRUM is the most used new work methodology at financial services companies

  • Out of different new work methodologies and tools, SCRUM is the most popular among finance professionals (65%)
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The New Normal.

The COVID-19 outbreak is a new global reality that arrived fast and unexpectly, resulting in the birth of completely unfamiliar business context. With the beginning of the new calendar and fiscal years, businesses have seen their plans for 2020 become obsolete over the course of a few weeks. Undoubtedly as part of immediate crisis management, business leaders are coping with today but also revising plans, projections and priorities for what many are calling the ‘New Normal’.