No one is in any doubt about the large scale and wide-ranging impacts of COVID-19 on the global economy. The business adage of “volatility breeds opportunity” is more relevant today than any other time in this century. You can expect leaders who have business acumen to find opportunities to take advantage of the shock to the economy and the banking industry.
So how can they leverage commercial and financial acumen at a time of so many unexpected challenges? We’re going to look at:
- The potential to use information gathered during the pandemic
- How strategic awareness can translate into sound commercial decisions
- What efficiencies can be borne out of the crisis to improve the bottom line
Taking advantage of data during the pandemic
A key component of commercial acumen is being able to gather and analyse data to make better business decisions. Most financial institutions have fast-tracked planned digital transformation during the current crisis and this can be used to your advantage.
As more customers are completing transactions online, logging into online banking services, and checking their bank balances more often, you can see new trends emerging. You should be possible to spot patterns such as:
- Spending and savings patterns
- What drives users to click on online offers
- The times of day that people are accessing services
- The ways in which customers are choosing to interact with the bank
- The types of products/support which customers require
Among plenty others.
This data is a huge opportunity to improve your bank’s digital offering. Those with strong commercial acumen in your business will already be gathering this data and using it for valuable business insights that form action plans.
Commercial acumen and strategic awareness during the crisis
With over half the world in lockdown, including some of the harshest restrictions anywhere in the world in Melbourne, businesses have indeed suffered. However, there are plenty of businesses that have adapted and thrived, no doubt with strong traits of acumen within their leadership.
Leaders in your organisation should not only be able to spot the businesses that have been prospering during lockdown, they should find ways to make your bank benefit. Understanding changing business models and investing in online capabilities is a valuable opportunity.
On the flip side, there are plenty of formerly solid business that have no way to adapt. Plenty of bank customers are struggling due to lack of employment. There still lies opportunity here if you’ve got the people with the business acumen to navigate the current environment.
Being sympathetic and offering payment holidays on loans or leniency with late payments has a range of commercial benefits. These include:
- Building positive long-term relationships with business that will likely recover
- Building community trust and a positive reputation
- Retaining customers by offering a sympathetic service
- Increasing lending balances during low economic growth
- Increasing customer advocacy, since people are going to be talking about their current challenges for a long time
Using business acumen to improve efficiency in the long term
A significant change your bank may have experienced is the shift towards remote working. How can this change be beneficial?
There are potential savings that can be made through having more of your team working from home, but it’s not taken as given.
You can expect leaders with strong financial acumen to be assessing the risks and rewards from remote working. A large investment in hardware and software was probably made at the start of the pandemic, expect your leaders to find ways to get a strong return on that investment.
Flaws in your supply chain may have come to the fore. Whether that’s in the procurement of your plastics for cards or receiving documents from your customers, there are no doubt issues have arisen. A business savvy team member will be finding ways to find solutions to these issues using their business acumen developed to date.
Commercial acumen during the COVID-19 pandemic
Tough as times may feel now, there is an end in sight for the pandemic. As lockdowns are easing and vaccines being to roll out, it’s time for you and your leaders to take stock and plan what’s next.
When you have a team with a strong vein of commercial acumen running, you can expect opportunities to be spotted. Core elements of business acumen, such as data gathering, strategic awareness, the anticipation of external and market developments, and a drive for efficiency will all be vital for successfully navigating the COVID-19 pandemic.