The most frequently asked question during conversations with our financial clients today is: what will be the new normal once the pandemic is over? This question is hard to give a specific answer to because the effects from the pandemic are still new and unknown. Because the economic environment is changing daily, it's challenging to know what the best solution is for our financial clients.
We all know that new consumer habits will evolve because of the pandemic. Today's million-dollar question is: will the consumer return to retail stores when the pandemic is over?
We've already seen a decline in traditional consumer shoppers with the introduction of easy online shopping, thanks to Amazon. So, will the pandemic accelerate the decline of brick-and-mortar stores and have a lasting effect? If yes, will this transition happen immediately or will it take time for this trend to transpire?
There are many stories in the news of communities starting to gather and ignoring COVID safety guidelines. Families and large groups of people are getting together without masks and with no social distancing. We are social beings; it's in our nature. I am not sure if it is COVID fatigue or simply natural instinct, but people do not like to be cooped up for long periods of time. They want the freedom to go, gather, shop, bank, and more, when and where they want too.
When the pandemic subsides and the consumer's freedoms return, it will be critical that financial institutions are positioned to service these consumers in the best manner possible. But, what does that mean?
We believe there will be new habits to adjust too and plan for, but most people will return to their preferred methods of shopping. One major difference is that the products and services that were important pre-pandemic may not apply any more. So our advice to our financial clients is this: ask the right questions and be willing and able to adjust to new consumer needs.
The level of transformation required of financial providers and the experience they provide is yet to be seen, but those that are already busy planning and trying new things to establish a new, safe, comfortable 'normal' banking experience will be most successful.