As the calendar flips from 2016 to 2017, it’s the perfect time to reflect on the past year and look ahead to what this calendar year will bring. That’s why, for the past nine years, Accenture has published the Top 10 Challenges for Investment Banks. It’s our way of analyzing the key issues that are capturing the C-suite’s attention right now and monitoring trends as they evolve over time.

What’s changed?

When we launched the Top 10 Challenges series in 2008, the industry was entering a period of a global financial crisis. A lot has changed since then. Today, it’s clear that a return to pre-crisis “business as usual” is not an option. And there are many things on the radar today that are interesting yet challenging at the same time: Fintech, cloud, developments in the digital space, and new technologies like blockchain just to name a few.

If I had to sum up what’s happening in a single word, I’d choose acceleration. Investment banks are moving quickly to develop new capabilities, adopt new technologies and create new kinds of partnerships—and the world around them is moving faster than ever too. This year’s Top 10 Challenges series examines how the trend toward acceleration is playing out across three key themes: simplification, digitization and innovation.

Seeking simplicity

Investment banks have been striving to simplify for years—and for good reason. It could help them to be more efficient and less prone to error, reveal new opportunities for growth and help them serve clients better. This year, we take a closer look at how investment banks can prune for growth and distinctiveness (Challenge 1), get aggressive about cost reduction (Challenge 2), turn automation into intelligence (Challenge 3) and press the reset button on their location strategies (Challenge 4).

The drive to digitize

Over the past few years, investment banks have shown growing interest in digital technologies. It’s more than passive investing; many banks are now actively participating and collaborating with third parties. Digital tech could be a real game-changer across many aspects of investment banking operations, including talent management (Challenge 5), the client experience (Challenge 6) and technology infrastructure (Challenge 7).

Harnessing innovation

From the creation of new financial instruments to the adoption of electronic trading platforms, the investment banking industry has a history of innovation. The global financial crisis in 2008 put big ideas on the back burner for a bit, but banks are getting set to reclaim their pioneering spirit. This year, we examine how organizations could avoid the fintech money pit (Challenge 8), rethink their research functions (Challenge 9) and experiment with distributed ledger technology (Challenge 10).

My hope is that this Top 10 Challenges series initiates and frames important discussions within your organization. If a challenge really resonates with you, and you want to explore the issue further in the context of your own business, reach out to me directly at robert.p.gach@accenture.com.

To learn more, visit: www.accenture.com/10challenges

 

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