Consumer Intelligence’s Andrew Buller is a foreign exchange and travel money expert. We asked him whether businesses in this area are keeping up with the competition, and why knowing their customers is vital to growth.
Q. FX companies are famous for benchmarking, aren’t they? They’re always telling us about their rates and fees. What more could Consumer Intelligence add?
A. I find that when I talk to FX companies, they focus very much on one part of the business. Anyone that works in the FX market will be quick to highlight that they are confident they know spot rates on a daily basis for a range of currency pairs. In addition, they will also confidently know what their fees are and what uplift they effectively add to the spot rate. But these aren’t the figures that will help them to change their market positions and gain more customers. I believe they need to know more than that, if they are to grow.
Q. What are the most important things they need to know?
A. One really important thing I think companies miss is the knowledge of who they are competing against. Consumer Intelligence has been monitoring the UK FX market for four years and we have watched organisations automatically ‘silo’ themselves into smaller groups.
They think, ‘we are a bank and therefore our competitors are banks’ or ‘we are a boutique and therefore we compete in a niche channel’ or ‘we are an FX online business and therefore focus on our customer journey’.
But we know that consumers don’t think the same way. They are just looking for a way to send money overseas, and our studies show they don’t have a lot of loyalty. So companies need to know exactly what else is out there, so they can win custom and keep the clients they have.
The FX market changes daily and where you were once competitive you may be surprised to find you have not kept your competitiveness. So it is vital to look at the whole picture, and to look at it often.
Q. What other things could FX providers learn from Consumer Intelligence?
A. Clients of ours often find out that there are better and more timely ways of communicating with customers. For example, telling them about economic and global events might impact their monthly transactions. Our research shows that clients aren’t really going to read an email, but there are other ways of contacting them, including through messaging, or an app.
Clients also often think they have a great online presence, but then discover that it is out-of-date. If your online or digital journey hasn’t changed or been updated for 2 years, it’s safe to say your on-line presence is under threat. Open banking has introduced huge investment by large organisations to develop their products and services. Digital is positioning to revolutionise how people bank and transact. Understanding how the market is changing and how others are evolving is key to your long-term success.
Q. How about the rise of Fintech businesses? Can Consumer Intelligence help its clients to assess the impact of these new entrants to the market?
A. Lots of our clients start off by thinking that the rise of Fintech won’t impact them, but they are wrong. Fintechs are changing the FX market and you do need to worry. Open banking and the agile way that fintechs work mean they are influencing the FX market faster than consumers can keep up. New products and services are entering the market, which are blurring the lines between FX, Prepaid, multi-currency and travel money.
Q. What types of organisation is Consumer Intelligence insight useful for?
A. All shapes and sizes. We support over 12 markets and hold over 150 live accounts which gives us the knowledge and expertise to support businesses. Our insight is used globally by organizations who wish to stay informed and be proactive in planning.
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Andy Buller, Key Account Director and Head of Travel Money
Andy has over 20 years’ experience within the financial services sector and has worked predominantly within the FX, wholesale bank notes and prepaid industries. In previous roles Andy has managed key relationships with many of the leading financial institutions including Commerzbank, Credit Suisse, American Express, RBS and Travelex.
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