Digital Literacy, Employers’ call or employees’ necessity?

From a personal point of view, financial service providers in small developing countries such as Swaziland face unique challenges over and above their counterparts in developed countries with advanced technological developments with almost the entire populace having access to internet linked services. One of these is regarding the various views on the usage of social media and other internet based products by clients based on each one’s exposure and perceived risk associated with these technological advancements. Another is the composition of clientele currently as well as the reasonable future projections, among many other relevant issues.

Having a digital footprint is proving to be a necessity now more than ever for the financial services industry with a potential of lowering operating costs in such competitive markets and or increasing competitive advantage. The technological advancements present both opportunities and challenges for all and sundry, calling for everyone to position themselves to benefit one way or another or be left behind.

Brand Managers across the industry have to plan their strategies on how to properly manage their approach to these opportunities which have the capability of defining the future for most financial services providers. Technological advancements have implications for all, from shareholders to managers of such institutions, from brand ambassadors such as employees to the clients themselves; interactions through the technologically inclined platforms such as social media can either make or break the future existence and or profitability of financial services providers.

Shareholders and management may have to ponder on the level of investment in research and development to take advantage of the potential opportunities, and in the process forego current dividends. The clients have the ultimate influence on the channeling of the capital investments through the type and level of demand for the financial services. What better place to have your presence as a service provider than the platforms that your (potential) clients prefer to use when interacting with each other and voicing their views and opinions on issues affecting them, including their expectations and experiences with their financial services providers!

Besides having professionals managing their brands in all fronts including social media, financial service providers have this challenging duty of managing their brands throughout these ever-changing technological situations with moral and ethical etiquette. This has a crucial bearing on their policies on attracting and/or up-skill their employees to be great ambassadors of their brands, promoting loyalty and attract even more clients. This calls for having clear policies on social media interactions in line with managing brand reputation risk among others as a strategic intent.

The challenges that come with these technological advancements are placing more burden on the shoulders of financial services providers in areas such as security and client information confidentiality; this within the ambit of both legislation and regulators’ expectations as well as on ethical and moral grounds.

According to Sadlier, E., & de Beer T., 2014, the lines between personal privacy or private and public information are continuously becoming blurred by the day due to emergence of internet usage among others, the implications are multi-fold for everyone and more-so financial services institutions employees. It is thus critical for financial service providers to assist and alert their employees where applicable on the (potential) impact that the use of the various technological platforms such as social media may have. Such platform usage, both for personal or business related communique, may lead to good business or on the contrary compromises on issues such as information security culminating in negative financial implications such as lawsuits, among others.

This entails encouraging employees to be responsible citizens both on social platforms as well as in personal dealings in the physical world. The ultimate goal would be for them to strive for better judgement in possibilities of potential conflicts of interest, which may reflect negatively on their personal character and ultimately employer brand.

How best to implement such depends on the Management as well as the various organizational constraints for each institution. What seems obvious is that if (potential) clients are on social media, that is where your brand ambassadors should be, properly equipped to do their part in taking the organisation forward.

References:

Sadlier, E., & de Beer T., (2014): DON'T FILM YOURSELF HAVING SEX. Penguin Books, South Africa.

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