From the top 14 January 2021

2021: Financial predictions from four experts

Concept - Financial predictions for 2021
Four finance experts share what they are expecting from 2021
Following a difficult year for many SMEs, what might the new year hold? Four financial experts share what they think businesses should expect to see and embrace more of as we head into 2021.

Jed Rose - Airwallex
“Businesses will not be able to go back to the same ways of working as before.”
Name: Jed Rose

Position: EMEA General Manager, Airwallex

Bio: Jed is an experienced tech and finance entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and angel investor with an award-winning track record for leading, advising, and investing in organisations to realise their full potential. At Airwallex, he is helping to revolutionise the way organisations operate within the region – and beyond – and leading the team through a period of high growth.

Next year will pose many challenges for businesses as the pandemic continues to impact businesses globally and the consequences of a new UK-EU trade deal – or lack thereof – need to be worked through. However, with challenge comes opportunity.

Despite the further disruption looming, the UK will still remain a global leader, particularly within the financial industry. We must look towards the chances that arise in 2021 and use them to strengthen global banking connections, for example with the US and APAC.

?Regardless of the political and economic changes the UK will face, London will remain a crucial ecosystem for financial services.?

In 2021, there will be a surge in international businesses looking to change their working practices, especially the management of their finances, so that they can continue to improve their efficiencies and operating margin.

This means that many will take the leap to fully immerse themselves in digital-first solutions and e-commerce to help continue operations and sales overseas.

International organisations will look to consolidate their financial operations by using one single platform that offers greater transparency over transactions, helps them easily expand their customer base, and avoids the traditionally high fees that come with foreign exchange and cross-border payments.

?Now more than ever, organisations need accessible, convenient service providers to help them to manage their business? performance with minimal disruption.?

One thing is clear: businesses will not be able to go back to the same ways of working as before. Instead, they should look to advanced technologies to help them construct smarter ways of managing their finances, in order to continue scaling despite the uncertainty caused by Brexit and the pandemic.


Jayakumar Venkataraman - professional headshot
“We can expect to see a lot more of the banking interactions for the SME clients moving online.”
Name: Jayakumar Venkataraman

Position: Partner, Banking, Financial Services and Insurance, Infosys Consulting

Bio: Jayakumar leads Infosys Consulting?s financial services practice in Europe, advising on the transformation of business and helping companies implement this transformation by leveraging the adoption of digital, new and emerging technologies like AI and ML.

In 2021, we will see the rise of the digital corporate bank ? a digital twin of their existing operations. This is something that has already been done successfully in retail banking.

With online banking well established, and platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Teams proving themselves effective channels for communication during the pandemic, we can expect to see a lot more of the banking interactions for the SME clients moving online.

This will mean the relationship manager will be able to initiate new relationships, open up new accounts, advise on suitable financial products and fulfil transactions remotely, predominantly via online platforms.

Particularly for SMEs, access to their relationship bankers will become far easier than before. Additionally, digital corporate banking will help banks to deal with emerging competition on the provision of working capital facilities to SME clients from big tech giants and new entrants such as Amazon and Ant Group.

Additionally, we?ll see bank employees amplified and augmented by AI and machine learning. This can be done in two ways:

  1. By amplifying the individual?s ability to look at more items ? 50 or even 70 items, for example, being reviewed in the time it previously took to review 10 items.
  2. AI can pull together far more data ? thousands more pieces in fact ? to enrich customer insights.

Michael Chalmers - Contino
Michael Chalmers has worked to digitally transform FS providers including Direct Line Group, Allianz, and NAB.
Name: Michael Chalmers

Position: MD EMEA at Contino

Bio: Michael is responsible for the successful growth of the EMEA business, leading all departments including Sales, Delivery, Marketing, Finance, HR and end-to-end business operations.

He has over 13 years? experience working with enterprise organisations across a variety of industries to provide high-value, complex IT solutions. Since joining Contino in 2017, Michael has worked across the business to deliver measurable, market leading outcomes for our customers.

Michael has worked to digitally transform financial service providers including Direct Line Group, Allianz, and NAB.

Partnerships between retailers and payments companies that can deliver greater flexibility for consumers and reliability for retailers will boom in 2021.

Even before the pandemic, for example, we saw the flourishing of partnerships between retailers and Klarna, the ‘buy-now-pay-later’ online payment processing firm.

?With the impact of the downturn likely to continue well into 2021, add-on services that offer more options that support merchant resilience will be essential.?

Many companies have embraced ‘fluid’ payment ecosystems capable of handling multiple digital payment solutions – but only those capable of capturing data insights to drive their product innovation and sales strategies will reap the full benefits.

Real-time user profiles, fraud anomaly detection and personalisation, are all enabling marginal gains for payment providers that will differentiate them from competitors in 2021.

As customer experience continues to lead the way in differentiating modern companies, data agility and machine learning will be critical for those looking to impress as quickly and efficiently as possible.

From answering customer queries and personalising experiences to revenue accounting and trade settlement dashboards, the predictive capabilities of Machine Learning models will grow in use as a way of anticipating and exceeding customers’ needs.


Venkatesh Varadarajan - professional headshot
“We?ll see more widespread adoption of new AI-driven technologies.”
Name: Venkatesh Varadarajan

Position: Partner in Financial Services, Infosys Consulting

Bio: Venkatesh heads up Cards and Payments consulting for Infosys Consulting after over two decades in the industry, as a Partner in the FS practice. In his role he works with Fortune 500 and FTSE 100 companies every day on regulatory and compliance issues.

In 2021, focus on cybersecurity will continue to ratchet up in response to rising threats and vulnerabilities from COVID-19 financial crime. This is driving greater sophistication in cybersecurity technologies.

Additionally, we?ll see more widespread adoption of new AI-driven technologies to identify and eliminate false positives in risk management processes like anti-money laundering and fraud. This can help to streamline transaction monitoring and investigation processes, and bring about efficiencies in teams.

?We?ll also see greater investment of new fraud centres of excellence within banks which will help to bolster efforts.?

In the area of risk and regulatory programmes, central regulators have taken a sharp view on potential? risks in light of the 2008 financial crisis, mandating tight measures within banks to mitigate these. In reaction to this, we?re already seeing innovative Regulatory Hub constructs driving even greater efficiencies using a hub-and-spoke model.

This brings in common governance, teams and integrated interpretation of regulations. This is likely to become more widespread in 2021, as is the use of impact assessment tools to assist views on ?what compliance means? for many regulations,?which are fast approaching their compliance deadline.

Agile methods will also become more widely adopted to fast-track programmes involving risk. Risk will also increasingly become seen as a strategic function where elements such as risk data are being used for key strategic and marketing decisions, as well as monetisation opportunities that emerge from leveraging data.

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