The pandemic has caused many changes within every sector across the globe. While many industries are seeing revenue dwindle and demand paused, for the time being, the demand for financial services has witnessed a steady increase since the WHO (World Health Organization) declared COVID-19 a worldwide pandemic.
With more individuals and businesses worried about the economy and their finances than the virus itself, the financial sector is having to adapt to cope with sudden rises for their services. One of the significant transformations of the industry is the reduced face-to-face services available due to social distancing guidelines.
With many high street branches close or operating at a reduced rate, customers have turned to the use of call centres and online chat agents. Providers who were not prepared for this influx of demand within contact centres have struggled, and even those with a team in place may have found it difficult without the right software, such as voice and speech analytics, in place.
We take a look at the impact on various sectors of the financial industry COVID-19 has had in the UK and the US.
The Property Sector
The property sector is made up of two key services, real estate and mortgage services. At the initial announcement of lockdown, the UK’s housing market was placed on hold, and a ban on viewings was set in place to prevent households mixing.
However, the UK re-opened the housing market in late May, which led to a backlog of keen buyers and sellers wishing to speed through the conveyancing process before a potential second lockdown occurred.
When compared to the same months of 2019, real estate sourced 87% during these months in 2020.
The US has seen a different story, with just a 3% increase compared to 2019. Lockdown regulations varied between states, but there was no blanket ban on home viewings.
The number of vendors placing their properties on the market dropped significantly as homeowners were reluctant to gamble with offers and their houses during an uncertain economic time.
The UK saw an increase in mortgage applications this year, and the mortgage sector saw a rise of 119%. As the government placed new guidelines such as the reduction of stamp duty to keep the market flowing and help home buyers, more people took this opportunity to save substantial amounts of cash.
Mortgage deals have traditionally always been a very human-heavy service and pen and paper still required for contracts.
Mortgage providers quickly adapted and introduced online portals and e-signatures for mortgage applications.
While the US did see an increase, it was only 30%, small compared to the UK. Online facilities are not as openly available in the US, and this could be a deciding factor for many at this time.
The Insurance Sector
Businesses in both the UK and the US have been scrutinising their insurance policies to find any clause or stipulation that will allow them to claim back for lost revenue due to the pandemic.
This has seen demand rise in the UK by 311%. Other factors for this increased demand is members of the public claiming on their holiday insurance for cancelled trips and to seek help regarding financial losses.
There has also been an increase in those seeking private health insurance, despite fee healthcare for the nation, many are not wishing to place a strain on the NHS and want to ensure the best care should they fall victim to the virus.
The demand in the US has only risen by 26%. The most common factor for this is those seeking short-term health plans, many US citizens have lost their jobs due to the pandemic and therefore many have lost their health cover.
The Money & Banking Sector
Individuals hit financially from the pandemic sought advice from their banks almost immediately. In the UK, many banks offered loan and mortgage payment holidays to help during the first months of lockdown and loan rates were cut to help those who required lending to.
This saw a rise of 204% for those needing their banking services compared to last year.
The US saw an increase of 148%, even though the nation has been hit incredibly hard my COVID-19, lockdown restrictions were never as strict as in the UK, meaning many more were still able to work. Less banking services offered the benefits that were available in the UK, meaning there was less reason for a customer to be contacting their banks.
Credit and debit services saw an increase of 52% in the UK and 16% in the US, showing more of us are now having to borrow to pay for essential items, due to lost jobs and revenue thanks to COVID-19.
Businesses and those who are self-employed have led to an increase in demand for accounting and tax services, the IRS and HMRC have been allowing delayed payments and other benefits to help businesses, however, without these being filed correctly, it could lead to drastic implication.
This has caused a 175% increase in the UK and a 47% increase in the US for these services.
With both nations still struggling to control the virus, it is imperative that these services continue to adapt to demand and make the changes necessary so all customers can access what they need remotely and safely.