Although electronic document management and digital processes have impacted financial services in a big way over the past decade, paper still plays a key role for banks, insurance firms and specialized wealth management firms across the sector. These organizations have a number of business priorities that not only keep paper relevant, but also make the format a necessity for security, customer service and overall convenience for staff members and executives alike. Let's take a look at why paper remains a must in the world of financial services.
Perhaps the most prevalent talking point in the financial services sector is security, and with more processes becoming digitized, many organizations feel that they have a crisis on their hands as cyber attackers pose bigger, more complex threats. Nowadays, security is a major attractor for customers, as they are more conscious than ever regarding the protection of their financial information and assets. BizCommunity pointed to Kaspersky Lab info showing that 71 percent of survey respondents would avoid particular service providers if knowledge of a data breach was revealed.
"With more and more consumers not only using but relying on mobile banking and online payments to interact with companies and carry out transactions, there is an expectation that providers are taking adequate measures to safeguard their customers against fraud and breaches," said Ross Hogan, global head of fraud prevention at Kaspersky Lab, according to the news provider.
It's clear that these electronic services aren't as secure as business leaders may have thought, which explains why paper is still so prevalent. Of course, the best measure against shoddy cybersecurity is a policy that includes paper rather than the exclusive use of electronic documents. Ideally, a mixture of both will be best, but when customers can keep contracts and critical data in hard copy, they will likely trust the organization with other security practices.
In the highly competitive arena of financial services, the customer experience is a critical success factor. How customers interact and engage with their bank is a primary consideration in determining whether they'll either stick around or seek service elsewhere. And as always, quality customer service comes down to empowerment – how much of a choice does the customer have when it comes to performing processes and completing tasks?
As a report from the National Consumer Law Center stated, today's customers demand choice when it comes to receiving bank statements and managing their finances. And since more firms are not allowing this level of flexibility for their customers, organizations that leverage paper statements are far better positioned to deliver the user experiences that people truly appreciate – and will want to continue having time and again.
Also factoring into the equation is the reality that a substantial portion of American citizens do not have the Web access or technological know-how to successfully manage statements in a digital format. The source revealed that 59 percent of low-income houses do not have Internet available in the home, while 55 percent of Americans over the age of 65 are cut off from these digital environments as well. For the sake of good service to these groups, paper is a key asset.
"Consumers must have the right to receive that information in the manner that works for them," wrote the authors of the NCLC report, which revealed that the digital revolution is actually far from complete. "For many consumers, from those without regular broadband Internet access to the most computer savvy, paper is a more reliable way of ensuring that the consumer actually sees the information and can retain important records."
While security and service are essential for success in any financial vertical, there are also a number of reasons why paper still holds its own in the fast-paced financial services sector. From the board of executive leaders down through management and the customer-facing staff, banks rely heavily on paper due to its simplicity and convenience. Editing, sharing and marking up documents is undeniably easier when done in hard copy, especially in an in-person setting.
So, there is plenty of incentive for financial services firms to continue using paper, even as the digital age moves forward. Customized paper development and distribution solutions can be the key that unlocks these powerful benefits.