The simple message we can take from all these examples is that we must innovate or risk losing out to the competition.

But for many of the recognised brands, there is often no need to jump on the bandwagon to create a new payments app or to match the latest robot offering wealth management advice. 

For one thing, many of the fintech start-ups, from Silicon Valley to technology hubs in Sydney, are flourishing as they have been the first to spot opportunities.

They have noticed a gap in the market and have quickly and effectively built or coded a solution to offer to the buyer.

This could be to the consumer directly or, in some cases, a B2B offering – driving financial services organisations to outsource an element of back office functionality.

The chances are that the fintech operator has capitalised on technology or opportunities that didn’t previously exist to cater to an increasingly digital-first, always-connected Millennial audience.

We need only to look at Uber and Deliveroo to see how an algorithm can transform what was a highly-established industry.

And the fintech start-ups probably did this very swiftly, given they didn’t have the same legacy systems or decades of regulatory guidance to wade through as the major banks.

All of this is to be commended. As we advance and our technological capabilities evolve, why not develop new solutions, apps and software that can provide a more seamless digital banking experience?

Well, many of the major heritage banks, despite their efforts to embrace innovation and foster a start-up mentality, view some of these fintech start-ups as a threat to their traditional operations. But, in my view, they needn’t always.

They have a huge arsenal at their disposal that they can use and which fintechs will likely struggle to harness, even with time.

Most importantly, they have insights. Banks have complex sales operations, with multiple locations, channels, products, regulations, currencies, languages and time zones, all of which generate a vast amount of information and data.

This means they have a wealth of information and insight into their customers. Cutting through these complex data sets with data analysis technology to properly understand their customers gives banks a uniquely clear view on where their focus should be.

Take the Teachers Mutual Bank for example. The Australian-based organisation had too much data to manage from multiple sources.

It has been able to collate and leverage this data, separating it into categories such as demographics, spatial distribution and eligibility for home loans, allowing for more targeted campaigns.

As a result, total data accuracy increased by 30 per cent. This is data that fintechs will rarely have at hand, at least not on such a scale.

Where banks can learn from fintechs, however, is in the distribution of this information within the organisation.

Our recent survey of 300 financial services executives on how they manage data showed that only about half understand who in their operations need what information to best do their jobs.

In financial services especially, the insights that come from the wealth of customer data rarely make it all the way through to those on the frontline who deal with customers every day.

Through embracing a user-driven data analysis method to gather insights, banks are able to maintain their competitive advantage compared to smaller fintech start-ups.

Along with the continual improvement of distribution of information to employees and customers, banks will be able to solidify relationships with stakeholders in times of turbulence.

Many banks are already recognising and capitalising on this. However, there are many more that can turn their fintech uncertainty into a business advantage through the power of insights sharing and data analysis.

Duncan Ash is the senior director for global financial services at Qlik.

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