Opinion – German Manufacturing Is Leading a Digital Industrial Revolution – Harvard Business Review – John Gelmini

Having undertaken many interim assignments in financial services over the past 21 years and worked in insurance, banking, consumer lending, mortgages, factoring, invoice discounting and within offshore fund management, wealth management and insurance broking at the sales, marketing and organisational ends, I cannot but agree with Dr Alf.

What I notice, time and again, is a short-term “Lets be having it now ” mentality whereby everything is very target driven and the marketing model is 200 years old, virtually unchanged in all of that time.

Executives within these segments tend to oversimply things and lack any real understanding of how ordinary people think and live, so they make assumptions about what will appeal to them on which they then model their sales and marketing processes and their customer services and retention processes. They seek to minimise the costs of underpinning operations but since these are supporting sales force structures fit for the 19th century, they are top-heavy with too many unnecessary processes.

They use compliance as the rationale for having too many layers of sales and call centre supervision when a flat self-determined work team structure reporting to a finance director would be more appropriate and a lot cheaper to run. Along with this structure as it is now, operations and systems are necessarily unwieldy with the appearance of leanness created by outsourcing when in fact elimination and automation would have been better choices.

The tail often “wags the dog” in that in the process of credit underwriting of loans, mortgages and business finance the chain of command of credit committees is very narrow with no “dual key” to deal with illness or absence. This creates unconscionable delays for potential clients and loses firms business as these prospects go elsewhere or look for alternatives.

At the consumer end, the so-called Mortgage Market Review and new misguided legislation on buy-to-let mortgages and the tax treatment of rental income, does nothing to increase housing supply, drives potential and actual landlords offshore, and makes the entire process intrusive, long and stressful for customers, whilst real potential excesses by investment bankers at the opposite end of the spectrum are made possible. Future “Gordon Gekko’s” and “Wolves of Wall Street” are out there ready to create future banking crises whilst regulators composed of not very bright people complicate life for ordinary members of the public and bolt stable doors long after the horse has been rendered into wood glue sold in B&Q, Homebase and Wickes.

John Gelmini

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