The explosive growth of the digital world is transforming the financial services industry. Accenture believes that the financial services client of 2020 will be very different from the client of today. They will be digitally empowered, comfortable with AI assistance and with virtual or augmented reality, and more concerned about keeping their data safe.

As clients change, the financial services industry will need to realign the way it sells to them. Here are five sales skills to master for the future of banking.

1 Provide personalized, real-time offerings

The customer of tomorrow will make smarter decisions. AI and algorithms will analyze enormous amounts of data and produce useful consumer insights. Sales will need to keep pace and develop the ability to provide real-time personalized offerings to customers based on their past behaviour and present circumstances.   

2 Meet the client in their new reality

Consumer familiarity with virtual and augmented reality reached a tipping point in 2016. By 2020, using financial services in this “new reality” will be as common as using them online or on a smartphone is today. Sales will need to develop new channels to reach these consumers on their platform of choice. The need for a virtual reality bank is not that far off.

3 Team up with robots

Early adopters are already using personalized shopping robots to help them buy clothing or find medical advice. By 2020, such assistants will be commonplace in every retail interaction, including banking. Financial services sales teams will need to develop their own bots in response to stay relevant to their clients. These bots could even sell directly to consumer bots with no human involvement.

4 Get data ethics and security right

Predicting the future is difficult, but it is safe to say that the importance of data in the lives of consumers will only grow in the next three years. This means that the relevance of keeping data secure and handling it ethically will also grow for financial services firms, who are entrusted with some of the most sensitive customer information imaginable. Suffering a data breach is already a seriously adverse event. By 2020, it could be catastrophic. Blockchain offers financial institutions important advances in data security and privacy, though the technology is still developing.

5 Keep a human touch

When we imagine the future of our industry, we often see a place with more machines and fewer humans. But while digital technology does offer opportunities for intelligent automation, at the end of the day, banking will always be a human-to-human industry. Sales in 2020 will be different in some ways. But a human touch will still be needed to seal deals and succeed.

This post and my previous one look at how digital disruption is set to change the nature of sales in our industry. But what are forward-looking banks doing right now to get ready? In my next post, I’ll go over some of the leading examples from around the world.