This year, we introduced polling of UK business decision-makers, which has resulted in widespread industry media coverage for Encompass, as we continue to show ourselves as a thought leader by delivering relevant, insightful findings.
We have conducted four research projects over the last 12 months, which have seen us survey business owners and directors on a number of issues connected to their experiences with financial institutions, from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic to attitudes towards digital transformation.
This activity is something that we will look to build on in 2021, to inform and engage you on the issues that matter. Until then, we wanted to share a round-up of the topics we have covered in 2020, and what our research has told us.
Our first set of findings looked at due diligence in banking, and revealed that 38% of UK businesses had deliberately abandoned an application for banking services in the last year due to slow processes.
The research asked businesses about the challenges they face in getting access to financial support, as well as attitudes towards cybersecurity and regulation.
It was found that businesses planned to prioritise spending on cybersecurity over anti-financial crime compliance in 2020, with 44% putting plans in place. However, 81% of organisations agreed that they were confident in their understanding of exposure to financial crime and that they already have the processes in place to address it.
By June, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic was really being felt by businesses around the country, so it was important for us to gauge how banks were responding – and how their services had evolved to meet customer needs.
According to our survey on this very topic, there was work to be done, as four in 10 respondents told us that their business was planning to change their provider due to the support offered during the outbreak.
The data also revealed that 42 per cent admitted to waiting over two weeks for a business loan application from their current banking provider. Additionally, 46 per cent reported noticing significant delays in their bank’s onboarding process since the start of lockdown.
Almost half (49 per cent) of business decision makers also revealed that their bank had, at that time, not directly offered financial support during the pandemic, while 40 per cent agreed that their bank’s online digital services during recent months had been poor.
One of the headline findings from the year was that almost three-quarters (73%) of businesses are more likely to select a bank that could perform all relevant regulatory checks digitally.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, paper-based communication and documentation has become increasingly obsolete in a society-wide effort to reduce contact and streamline services, however, as earlier results had shown us, some banks have fallen behind.
Almost two-thirds of business decision makers (64%), for example, agreed that the implementation of social distancing measures has exposed the digital divide between traditional banks and specialist financial services that provide a truly digital service.
Furthermore, more than one-third (37%) admitted that their current banking provider’s onboarding process is too slow and not fit for purpose. Interestingly, though, and in contrast to what we had previously been told by respondents, more than half of business decision makers (56%) did say their bank has noticeably improved other aspects of its digital services since the start of the pandemic.
Commenting on these findings, our CEO and co-founder, Wayne Johnson, said the time had come for banks to fully embrace automated, smart decision-making, adding:
The COVID-19 pandemic has permanently altered the way that businesses interact with their banking and financial services providers, increasing the need for online services and resulting in expectations of a much faster approach to onboarding and compliance checks.
For the last polling activity of the year, we moved the focus from banks to law firms, in an effort to evaluate their current onboarding processes and how they have adapted to evolving requirements during the pandemic.
Our survey results told us that there is dissatisfaction currently, as 25% of companies said they had lost out on a business deal as a result of their law firm’s slow onboarding process, while 56% of respondents admitted that their experience with the onboarding process in the legal sector has not met expectations.
The importance of automation was highlighted once again, as more than half (56%) agreed that they would be more inclined to select a law firm that offers digital onboarding. Finally, however, when asked about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, only 40% said that their firm’s digital solutions have improved in this time.
Encompass’ intelligent process automation conducts live document and data collection, analysis and integration from public and premium sources to bring transparency to complex corporate structures and ultimate beneficial ownership, delivering the most accurate and complete KYC on demand.