The crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown multiple challenges to the financial services sector, particularly on banks, as lockdown measures and unemployment rates cut demand and put pressure on existing systems.

Further, digital adoption has increased across geographies and age groups as firms try to adapt to the shift.

Verdict has conducted a poll to assess what could be the biggest among three major operational challenges facing financial services providers during the COVID-19 crisis. The three challenges include switching to large-scale homeworking, retraining the staff, and changing operating hours of branches and call centres.

Analysis of the results shows that switching to large-scale working from home is the biggest challenge faced by FS providers, as voted by a majority 52% of the respondents, followed by retraining the staff to effectively work from home, as opined by 31% of the respondents.

Whereas, 17% of the respondents felt that changing the operational hours of branches and call centres is the biggest challenge.

The analysis is based on 381 responses received between 07 April and 25 June from readers of four of Verdict sites namely Retail Banker International, Cards International, Electronic Payments International, and Private Banker International.

COVID-19: Digitalising opportunities amid challenges for financial services providers

COVID-19 has hit the financial services industry at a time when companies are unprepared for a large-scale homeworking unlike the technology industry where working from home is normal.

Banks have been forced to close branches and reduce working hours to comply with the lockdown measures and curb community spread of the disease forcing staff to work remotely using digital tools.

A surge in digital banking has been witnessed over the past few months as customers reduce cash usage to avoid contracting COVID-19 disease and rather use digital services for their banking needs, according to GlobalData. Banks have also been, as a result, forced to reevaluate their investments in digital infrastructure as more number of customers switch to digital banking.

Adapting to work from home and providing safe digital infrastructure to support the same are thus among the major immediate challenges that financial services providers have to deal with.

The pandemic, however, also provides unique opportunities for banks and financial institutions to offer digital services for a wide range of use cases and demographics, says GlobalData.

The situation is also expected to result in an increase in the adoption of personal financial management tools while requiring banks to increase focus on cybersecurity.