Leaders in the financial services industry are overwhelmingly positive about the impact of digital disruption and the opportunities it will offer. However, this also causes anxiety for almost two-thirds (64 percent), per a recent study commissioned by Fujitsu.

Findings underline that disruption is the ‘new normal’ for businesses across all sectors today, and it is fundamentally redefining the way that organisations operate. The financial industry, in particular, has seen a great deal of increased competition and new entrants to the sector – including the rapid rise of fintech firms and so-called ‘challenger’ banks. Consequently, almost all (98 percent) of finance executives surveyed said they believe their businesses has already been directly affected. A further 72 percent expect this change to continue, anticipating a fundamental change in the industry by 2021.

Such ongoing, significant change has led to financial services leaders expressing concern about the impact of digital disruption. Almost half (47 percent) stated that disruption impairs long-term business decision-making. Furthermore, few within the industry feel that they are in the driving seat of digital disruption, with only nine percent saying they believed that they were actually leading digitalization in their sector – the lowest of any sectors surveyed. However, on the positive side, 62 percent stated that they feel more confident in making the right decisions on digitalization than they were two years ago, while 89 percent believe they will thrive in a digitally-disrupted world.

To thrive, financial services respondents widely recognised (86 percent) that the industry needs to evolve. Two-thirds (65 percent) of finance executives believe that their organisations have to innovate faster to stay relevant. In addition, almost half (46 percent) believe that internally, the C-suite or leadership team is driving their reaction to the challenge. Looking externally, most business leaders identified customers (46%) as having the most influence in terms of driving their organisation’s reaction to digital disruption, ahead of competitors (27%), partners and third parties (20%).

The general sentiment of the financial services sector is confident – with more than two-thirds (68 percent) believing that digital disruption presents exciting opportunities for them and more than three quarters (77 percent) agreeing that digital disruption is a positive force.

Commenting on the research results, Anita Burke, Financial Services Sector Lead at Fujitsu Ireland, commented; “This is a very interesting survey as it provides an insight into the thoughts of senior leaders who in the past would not necessarily have been concerned by the requirements around digital transformation. Indeed, we are seeing similar trends to those reported among business leaders in the financial services here in Ireland. Issues around security, accessibility, customer service and future proofing front end and back end systems are no longer the sole remit of the CTO or IT department, but fundamental business decisions.”

Elenice Macedo, Head of Financial Services Solutions, Industry Consulting and Software Solutions BAS EMEIA, at Fujitsu, said: “The financial sector is feeling increased competition and disruption more than other industries as organisations struggle to update their ageing legacy technology infrastructure. Our findings confirm, that they can clearly see the benefits of digitalization, and they are gaining confidence in terms of deploying new technologies to stay relevant and transform their industry. However, financial executives realise that they need support to achieve their objectives, and over half (52 percent) believe that the right partner who can help co-create technology solutions will help them succeed.