Opportunity And Growth In Financial Services: Turning Data Insights into Actionable Intelligence

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Overview: Data Intelligence Is A Universal Requirement

Financial services are undergoing a transformation amid an increasingly competitive landscape, expectations of new regulations, and growing customer demands. Consumer financial data programs are vital to continued success, but all too often, organizations are limited by their inability to turn data into actionable intelligence. Without the strategy and infrastructure to effectively analyze and leverage financial data, organizations face business losses. Successful data programs require a holistic and agile internal structure and strong data partnerships to enable companies to best address business needs.

This study commissioned by MX Technologies explores the importance of effective use of consumer-permissioned financial data. Forrester surveyed 150 data strategy leaders in North American financial institutions to understand what their organizations’ data practices look like today, their challenges, and the benefits that effective data intelligence can drive.


Consumers’ Financial Lives Are Increasingly Fragmented

Today’s consumer is more complex than ever. Nearly two-thirds of financial data leaders agree that consumers have more money in more places than ever and often lack a holistic view of their financial lives. Furthermore, 82% say that financial services organizations have access to more consumer financial data than in the past.

Additionally, 85% find that consumers now expect greater levels of personalization than ever before. They expect their financial institutions to use data to tailor their customer experiences. To further complicate matters, nearly 80% agree that consumers demand more control over their financial data today than ever before. And forthcoming regulations in the US and Canada will place new requirements on organizations that ensure consumers own and can control their financial data.

Consumer Financial Lives Are Increasingly Fragmented

Effective Use Of Consumer Financial Data Is Crucial For Success

Changes in consumer behaviors and demands present both a significant opportunity and a significant challenge for financial providers to deliver against growing expectations. The vast majority of leaders agree that being able to use consumer financial data to provide clear and actionable insights and personalization to customers can be a significant competitive advantage. In addition, 79% consider financial data intelligence critical for their success.

The value of consumer financial data also extends way beyond personalization. This data is essential to enable financial providers to make better-informed and real-time strategic business decisions — 82% stress that this has become increasingly important.

Effective Use of Consumer Financial Data is Critical for Success

Significant Value Remains On The Table

Today, many financial institutions are still at the beginning of their journey to maximize the power of consumer financial data for both customers and their business. When asked which use cases they were capable of today, no single use case had an adoption rate of more than 67%. However, financial leaders are ambitious in their desire to grow these use cases. In the future, more than three-quarters of leaders would like their organization to be capable of everything from providing personalized insights to making informed marketing decisions and managing data permissions.

The two areas where respondents expressed the greatest interest in growth are both related to the rising proliferation of consumer financial products — allowing consumers to aggregate their accounts and monitoring the third parties with which consumers share their data.

Significant Value Remains on the Table

How Companies Manage Data Varies

How are organizations today managing the way they aggregate, enhance, or analyze financial data? We found that there is a wide range of approaches, often influenced by company size. For most organizations, data analytics is exclusively or partially in-house. Data enrichment and aggregation are also often managed in-house but are commonly done through a vendor as well. Forrester’s research indicates that larger organizations are more likely to do their enrichment, enhancement, and aggregation in-house, while smaller vendors are more likely to outsource to one or more data vendors.

How Companies Manage Data Varies


Organizations Struggle To Extract Value From Consumer-Permissioned Financial Data

We found that most financial institutions struggle considerably to utilize financial data today. In part, this stems from an inability — or unwillingness — to evolve their data programs. More than 60% of respondents say their organization largely still uses data the same way they always have. This creates challenges with delivering personalized experiences at scale (60% say this is an issue), wasting data (52% say they have substantial amounts of data they are not using), and using their consumer data to make better products, services, and experiences (38% wrestle with this). Alarmingly, 39% say that the way they use consumer financial data has not been a top priority for their firm. However, as we will discuss later, this may be changing.

Failing to leverage data has considerable consequences: 44% say they have lost customers due to poor data usage and 45% have lost customers due to poor personalization.

Organizations Struggle to Extract Value from Data

Internal And External Issues Inhibit Actionable Data Intelligence

We asked financial data leaders what contributed to their issues and found two main root causes: 1) a lack of internal consistency, ownership, and expertise and 2) difficulty finding the right data partner.

Looking at internal challenges, leaders paint a picture of siloed, inconsistent approaches to how they use data and no clear ownership of a cohesive data strategy. This can lead to teams having little to no visibility into the data they need.

Organizations also struggle with finding the right partner — or with having too many partners — which further complicates internal challenges related to consistency and ownership.

56% say different teams across their organization have drastically different ways in which they access and utilize consumer financial data

Where Orgs Fall Short with Data Capabilities

Fundamental Strategy Is Not The Problem, But Organizations Need Change

Our research consistently found that, for most organizations (though certainly not all), the biggest issue is less about whether data leaders know the right plan of action and more about whether they have the internal structures and trusted partners needed to enact those plans. Notably missing from the top underlying issues with financial data programs today are issues with strategy — this was toward the bottom of the list of respondents’ concerns.

Competing priorities and previous failures or struggles often leave top decision-makers hesitant to allocate the resources needed to make significant improvements. However, this is beginning to change: Nearly 80% of leaders said they know their organization should put a greater priority on maximizing the potential of consumer financial data.

Put Greater Priority on Consumer Data


Investing In The Right Partner, Processes, And Technology Is Key

If organizations seek to change, what will that look like? We asked leaders this question and found that, once again, change does not mean a ground-up rebuild of data programs for the majority of organizations. Only 37% have plans to rethink their entire data strategy, and only 13% say they don’t know where to start with leveraging financial data. Instead, change is about breaking down silos, investing in technologies and improved automation, and finding the right data partner to help navigate the murky waters of consumer financial data. Leaders know they can’t go this alone — the vast majority (86%) say that having the right data partner is critical for them to succeed in their data programs.

Planned Steps Going Forward

With The Right Financial Data Strategy, The Potential For Improvement Is Enormous

Leaders understand that a significant improvement to their organizations’ ability to utilize consumer financial data for business purposes can lead to transformational advances. The majority of leaders expect to see improved customer experiences, retention, audience targeting, efficiency, business decision‑making capabilities, and more as they enhance how they leverage consumer financial data.

Expected Benefits of Significant Improvement in Ability to Utilize Data


Intelligence submerged in data lakes is useless. The value of data is not disputed, but most firms struggle to effectively maximize the use of consumer financial data across their businesses, leaving customer and business benefits unrealized. What’s worse: They know this is the case.

To drive better outcomes for your customers, you must know them and use those insights to drive value — including more targeted marketing, better service, product enhancements, or greater security.

Having the right tools and data in place is one thing. Unless people know what data is available, where to derive intelligence, and how to put it into action, you will perpetuate untapped potential.

To accelerate change, you need a partner that can help you build the right data pathways for your company. Ensure that partners understand not only your data but also your organization. Choose a provider that can fulfill your current needs — and support your future ambition.


This Opportunity Snapshot was commissioned by MX Technologies. To create this profile, Forrester Consulting supplemented this research with custom survey questions asked of consumer financial data decision-makers at North American financial institutions. The custom survey began and was completed in January 2024.


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