What is the next step in human evolution?

This is a fascinating question with many interesting possible answers. One comes from the noted historian Yuval Harari, who argues in the clip below that we are one of the last generations of homo sapiens.

Harari looks at huge changes that will take place over thousands of years and alter the fate of humanity. But in the world of financial services, change comes much faster. Current technological developments and industry trends suggest that by 2020 sales will be very different than it is today. In this series of posts, we’ll go over what the future of sales holds for the industry. Since sales starts with clients, we’ll begin with a look at how clients are changing.

Accenture believes that the financial services clients of 2020 will have these key differences from the clients of today.

1 They will be smarter

The amount of digital data in the world is doubling every year. Technologies that help consumers put that data to work for them are already here. Services like Google Now assist users by predicting what they will want or need to know before users themselves are aware of it. By 2020, these tools will make clients much smarter in their consumer interactions.

2 They will be comfortable buying in virtual or augmented reality

The augmented reality smartphone game Pokémon Go caused a sensation when it launched last summer. An astonishing 50 million people downloaded the app in 20 days. In the months since, augmented and virtual reality experiences have exploded in popularity. Ikea now offers an augmented reality catalogue. The online retailer Alibaba provides virtual reality shopping. These technologies existed before 2016, but their acceptance hit a tipping point last year. As people become increasingly comfortable with them, financial services clients will soon be willing to make consumer decisions within these virtual environments.

3 They will be empowered by personal robots

Personal digital assistants are already here, like Healthtap, which analyzes a user’s medical requests and forwards them to the right doctor, or Talla, an AI which provides automatic answers to employee questions. Chatbots, which provide automated customer service through apps like Facebook Messenger, have also expodedexploded in popularity in the last five months. By 2020, a customer will have robotic assistance with every consumer decision they make—including ones at the bank.

4 They will be used to affordable luxury

Digital technology has made luxury lifestyle services available to more people than ever. Uber and Lyft make having a personal driver more affordable, while services like foodora make ordering meals from high-end eateries easier. In the world of education, companies like Edx and Coursera are unlocking lessons from the world’s best universities at a fraction of the traditional cost. This will make more customers used to luxury by 2020.

5 They will be cautious about data and cyber security

Putting personal data on the internet can already change your life. Head hunters comb LinkedIn and Google for new recruits, hackers attempt to gain malicious access to bank accounts, and so on. As the amount of data in the world continues to balloon, clients will become ever-more careful about protecting themselves from the downsides of data.

6 They will still be social creatures

Technology can make our lives easier, but it can never fulfill the need for human contact. Despite all the digital changes coming in 2020, customers will still want face-to-face interaction with the people they entrust with their money—even if the deal takes place in virtual reality.

Change in clients demands change in sales. Join me next week for a look at how successful sales teams will change their game by 2020.

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