Banking is one of the oldest industries known to humankind. As long as we’ve attributed value to goods and services, banking has played a crucial role in human civilization.

But customer expectations are changing. Today’s customers expect a smarter, more connected, more personalized experience in their interactions with banks and wealth managers. And adapting to this new reality — let alone bringing new value to an old industry — is no easy feat.

Last year, Salesforce set out to deliver new value to the financial services industry by closing the gap between banks and their customers. Today, we’re doing just that — but how did we get there?

1. Know the Business Landscape

We started by looking at key industry trends in the financial services sector, which has undergone a sea change since the 2008 financial crisis. Some key drivers of change in the financial services include:

  • Shifting demographics
  • Changing investor behavior
  • Robo-advisors
  • Big-data analytics
  • Goal-based advice
  • Changing regulatory environment

2. Understand What Customers Want

Once you understand the larger industry trends, it’s crucial to figure out what your customers want. In financial services, as in many industries, shifting demographics have created a consumer who is more connected and informed — and who, in turn, expects her bank to be just as connected and informed about her. We also saw that in the wake of the financial crisis, customers were unwilling to rely on a single source of advice. Instead, they wanted to weigh their options and get a second (or third, or fourth) opinion before moving forward with an investment decision. Finally, modern customers expect big data and predictive analytics to drive smarter, more efficient guidance.

3. Create a Blueprint for Success

As we moved from customer insights to product development, we were careful to create a process that would be replicable in many different industries and sectors. We didn’t want to create an amazing product in a black box — we wanted a sort of open-source blueprint for success.

That blueprint consisted of four main phases:

  • First, building on our knowledge of the business landscape and ongoing conversations with our customers, we developed new business themes to shape our product approach.
  • Second, these themes then helped us define the business capabilities that financial services companies need in order to do business with modern consumers.
  • Third, we used Salesforce products to create an innovative digital wealth management platform to serve the needs of wealth clients and financial advisors.
  • Our fourth and final step was to define a partner strategy to bring in differentiating use cases (such as robo-advisors, account aggregation, and so on) to the wealth management digital platform.

4. Build Partnerships to Deliver Exponential Value

Salesforce is known for its unparalleled ability to connect businesses to their customers across every device, industry, and line of business. But we’re also big proponents of leveraging partnerships to exponentially increase the value of our platform. In the financial services space, this meant identifying partners who complemented each other’s areas of expertise. In complex industries like financial services, you’ll want to leverage different partners to deliver the best possible solutions for diverse capabilities such as estate planning, call center integration, and data aggregation (just to name a few).

By creating a blueprint that we could easily map to industry trends, partner capabilities, and customer needs, we’ve ensured that whatever the shape of a specific solution, we’re considering every angle and delivering maximum value. And the result is a smarter, more connected financial services industry — one in which wealth managers can focus on adding value to every client relationship.

Watch a quick demo video to learn more about Salesforce Financial Services Cloud.