June 2023

SGV thought leadership on pressing issues faced by chief executives in today’s economic landscape. Articles are published every Monday in the Economy section of the BusinessWorld newspaper.
26 June 2023 Janet A. Paraiso

How embedded finance elevates the customer experience

The global market continually evolves as customers look for ways to better integrate financial services into their daily lives. Consumers now prefer a holistic customer journey rather than siloed transactions. As such, banks and other financial institutions must identify opportunities in this developing ecosystem to stay competitive and drive long-term growth.On a micro-scale, individuals can locally use e-wallets and online banking apps to send and receive money, pay bills, and perform cashless transactions on their mobile phones. These integrated experiences have evolved past digital financial services, bringing us closer to the next economic revolution.NOVEL FINANCIAL EXPERIENCESNon-financial organizations have started recognizing the value of offering seamless financial services to meet the needs of “digital citizens.” These businesses are now capitalizing on customer data and analytics to boost brand loyalty, generate new growth, and refine the customer experience. In this new age of technology-driven finance, services are most effective when delivered conveniently and frictionlessly.Changing and developing customer expectations are driving this new era of integrated finance. E-commerce platforms, online marketplaces, and retailers are starting to embed financial products and services into their end-to-end customer journeys.Fundamentally, embedded finance involves a non-financial services company integrating financial products or services into its value chain to bolster its customer experience.According to an EY market survey, with respondents from 21 technology providers across the Americas, EMEIA, and APAC, 94% of global financial technology leaders said that addressing customers’ needs in real time is a significant feature of financial products. As such, there is a burgeoning interest for financial and non-financial institutions to collaborate and identify opportunities for mutual growth. Additionally, EY financial research predicts the valuation of global embedded finance to grow from $264 billion in 2021 to $606 billion in 2025.THE RISE OF EMBEDDED OFFERINGSBanking-as-a-service (BaaS) providers use modern application program interfaces (API) to provide regulated banking solutions to non-financial institutions. These platforms and related technologies make it easier for financial technologies (Fintechs) to work with brands. The advancement of cloud computing and the omnipresence of mobile devices enables considerable connectivity between brands and consumers.Moreover, other integrated value propositions are on the rise. For example, a local e-commerce platform allows buyers and merchants to transact within its mobile app through its e-wallet feature. This service eliminates the need for a separate, traditional bank account. Another example is what started as a ridesharing app, but which now has transitioned to payments, food delivery, e-wallets, and more. Furthermore, the EY market survey shows that over 70% of respondents think that non-financial institutions will offer more financial products and services in the future.For a non-financial services company, having customer transactional data can help the organization create bespoke offerings for its consumers. Online marketplaces, retailers, and software companies, among others, are expected to play a crucial role in the future of the finance sector. Hence, organizations must rethink their positioning, strategic vision, and value propositions to capitalize on this nascent market opportunity.THE VALUE OF PAYMENTSEmbedded finance is manifold, but payments are the most significant in terms of revenue. According to EY research, the value of embedded-channel payments will grow to $6.5 trillion by 2025 from $2.5 trillion in 2021. Non-financial businesses make use of payments as the first touchpoint of customer transactions. With various offerings like discounts, gifts, and pre-orders, payments can help an organization create new experiences and increase customer retention. Furthermore, brands can integrate other services like insurance into this transactional flow the further it evolves.Likewise, consumers worldwide have increasingly adopted the use of digital wallets. This development has revolutionized the payment process for customers and merchants. According to an EY report, The Rise of Paytech — seven forces shaping the future of payments, mobile commerce comprised 52% of e-commerce spending, surpassing that of desktop users. Mobile wallets also held a 49% share in worldwide e-commerce payments in 2021. Finally, according to Juniper Research, an analyst house specializing in digital technology market research, the number of digital wallet users globally may exceed 5.2 billion by 2026, up from 3.4 billion in 2022.THE ROLE OF FINANCIAL SERVICES PROVIDERSEmbedded finance is a disruption that forces traditional financial institutions like banks to embrace this development. It is crucial for banks to adapt, as non-financial institutions have shown that they can now occupy the traditional role of banks. Brands that integrate finance into their customers’ end-to-end journeys create a convenient and robust user experience, which can cement their place in the global market.Once organizations clearly grasp their capabilities, leaders can devise strategies to incorporate embedded finance in the following ways:1. Customer- or product-centered approach This is a traditional model where banks can extend their services to others while innovating their core offerings. This approach means financial institutions are agile and introduce new products that will retain their customer base as market conditions evolve.2. Enabler approachThis approach centers on banks extending their products and services via a platform business model. Additionally, they must set up a digital set of core offerings while embedding services into other third-party platforms. By doing so, banks must understand which products and services could synergize with third-party platforms. They also need to consider various partnership models based on their existing capabilities.3. Builder approachThis technology-heavy approach involves the creation of platforms that house internal and external products. This method relies on agility and functionality as the model continuously adapts according to third-party functionalities. The bank must consider what offerings they can build in-house and which ones they must outsource. 4. Owner orchestrator approachIn this scenario, the bank owns the platform and customer distribution channels while also delivering its products. As such, it must invest in the right technology to bolster customer interactions. This method requires a scalable operating model that continuously improve the functionalities. The bank needs to measure the platform’s success and identify ways to increase brand recognition and retain customers.The conundrum that banks face is that consumers are opting for embedded channels to tap financial services. Financial institutions must find ways to innovate their products and services, lest they fall behind. As the digital age progresses, banks and other institutions should seize the opportunity to differentiate themselves from their competitors. Ultimately, innovation will drive the advancement of financial services toward integrated customer experiences. The discrepancy between what brands offer and what consumers want creates an opportunity for organizations to develop a new strategic vision to drive long-term growth. Banks and other organizations can explore new options, reimagine offerings, and embrace non-traditional revenue channels as they pivot to a financially embedded world. This article is for general information only and is not a substitute for professional advice where the facts and circumstances warrant. The views and opinions expressed above are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of SGV & Co.Janet A. Paraiso is an assurance partner and the FSO assurance leader of SGV & Co.

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19 June 2023 Benjamin N. Villacorte

How sustainable supply chains enable business transformation

Supply chains underscore sustainability and serve as the core of an organization’s ESG-related goals and objectives. With this in mind, supply chain leaders are taking the necessary measures to safeguard resources while identifying new opportunities to drive results. EY teams conducted a global supply chain survey, the EY Supply Chain Sustainability 2022 Report, which polled respondents from countries like Argentina, Canada, and the US for insights from the retail, technology, and agriculture sectors. The findings indicate that several executives have long-term goals for sustainable supply chains, but only some have the acumen, programs, and technology to assess their progress. Some challenges included costs and a need for a strong business case to justify expenditures. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, more than 90% of an organization’s greenhouse gas emissions and around 50% to 70% of its operating costs are attributed to supply chains. As such, executives can clearly realize significant sustainability-related benefits to greening their supply chains in the long term. The study discovered that eight in 10 supply chain leaders are gearing their initiatives toward more sustainable operations. They are increasing efforts toward decarbonization, proper use of natural resources, ethical sourcing, and fair trade. They are also trying to increase innovation, lessen risk, and realize a greater return on investment for ESG-related initiatives. In the Philippines, many manufacturers, retailers, and local governments have taken steps to reduce plastic use in favor of more environmentally friendly materials. For example, several cities have implemented ordinances banning the distribution and/or use of single-use plastics for onsite dining. Several cities have also banned the distribution of plastic bags in their establishments. With the Philippines counting as a significant contributor to the plastic problem, accounting for 750 thousand metric tons of plastic waste entering the ocean in 2010, the Philippine Alliance for Recycling and Materials Sustainability (PARMS) and its member companies have committed to the Zero Waste to Nature, Ambisyon 2030 (ZWTN 2030) initiative. The initiative aims to divert waste from landfills by recycling materials and resources, supported by strategies and a roadmap with specific implementation timelines and targets to ensure that none of the industrial or post-consumer packaging waste generated by PARMS members ends up in nature by 2030. In addition, with the government’s passage of Republic Act No. 11898, also known as the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Act of 2022, obliged enterprises established their own EPR programs for the EPR registration deadline in February. With the Act now being implemented, there is greater anticipation that the country will see a significant increase in its overall recycling rate. While the EPR Act initially covers plastic packaging, the coverage will gradually expand to encompass other materials as well. This article will delve deeper into the most salient insights from the report with the aim of supporting executives in achieving their sustainability-related goals. LACK OF TRANSPARENCY AND ROI-BACKED SUSTAINABILITY EFFORTSThe demand for supply chain-related visibility has increased with the burgeoning expectations of employees, regulators, and stakeholders. Consumers are becoming more mindful of ESG-related matters, such as sustainable sourcing, organizational health, and work conditions. The report showed that supply chain visibility was a top priority that year for executives, compared to it being a second priority for previous years. In addition, there is a crucial need to assess risks and plan for disruptions and crises. However, only 37% of respondents reported end-to-end supply chain visibility. Collaboration programs, data analytics, and digital tools can help businesses set KPIs and establish overall governance. Organization-wide visibility is a comprehensive initiative, and companies can use it to assess program effectiveness, track resources, and understand labor conditions. Management can also capitalize on technology to identify and home in on operational efficiencies. Notably, the report revealed that 33% of organizations lack a business case for sustainable supply chains, whereas almost half of the respondents reported that their companies have difficulties in measuring sustainability-related returns. Consequently, lacking a solid business case could lead to a shortage of financial support for long-term efforts. FOCUS ON END-TO-END SUPPLY CHAIN TRANSFORMATIONAs much as 61% of businesses reported that cost savings and efficiency were primary motivators for undergoing supply chain sustainability initiatives. Even so, financial gain was not the only benefit. According to Andrew Winston from a Harvard Business Review Whiteboard Session, organizations should prioritize four elements to concretize return on investment for supply chain sustainability: 1. Cost reduction. Improve operational efficiency, lessen material waste, and minimize carbon footprint. 2. Revenue growth. Assess how sustainable supply chains influence market share, profitability, and stock price. 3. Supply chain risk management. Create long-term sourcing strategies and manage compliance and regulatory risks. 4. Intangibles. Delve into sustainability’s relationship with brand reputation, customer loyalty, and talent retention. Moreover, 55% of supply chain executives expect improved operational risk management in the next three years, whereas 31% already reported more efficiency and productivity. Regarding long-term returns, 54% of respondents said they expect an increase in share price or other benchmarks of shareholder value. TAILOR-FIT SUSTAINABILITY-RELATED INITIATIVESExecutives must determine how sustainable supply chains fit into their business strategies. Businesses can structure their efforts by identifying how supply chains enable their goals. Deploying technological capabilities to improve visibility can boost supplier and stakeholder engagement. Organizations can broaden their RoI metrics to include intangible impacts and sustainability results. Given the ever-changing nature of the global market, companies need to go beyond standard business-case drivers such as customer loyalty, market share, and revenue. Enterprises should adopt an end-to-end approach, focusing on cross-functional collaboration, planning, and distribution to identify new opportunities. C-LEVEL CONSIDERATIONSAround 10% of respondents stood out in terms of progress in sustainability-related areas, and their organizations are realizing considerate benefits. One thing they have in common is their considerable focus on transparency. More than half (57%) of this group have public-facing sustainability goals. In terms of material gain, almost half of these trailblazing leaders have already reported a better employee experience.  Compared with other respondents, these executives are reaping financial gains despite focusing less on cost-saving measures. At least 25% have reported increased revenue from their supply chain sustainability initiatives, while 43% expect an increased share price in the next three years. Lastly, the data show they are more likely to use sustainable supply chains to protect their corporate brand. Supply chain sustainability has become increasingly important as global market expectations evolve. Organizations are starting to identify financial and nonfinancial opportunities of ESG-related efforts, and executives who know which KPIs to prioritize are already reaping the benefits. This article is for general information only and is not a substitute for professional advice where the facts and circumstances warrant. The views and opinions expressed above are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of SGV & Co. Benjamin N. Villacorte is a partner from the Climate Change and Sustainability Services team of SGV & Co.

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12 June 2023 Armand N. Cajayon, Jr.

The role of micro transformations in organizational growth

The global market and economy continually grapple with various disruptions and crises, and it has become imperative for chief information officers (CIOs) to maintain day-to-day operations with a reduced margin of error. It is incumbent on CEOs to balance technological investment with budget constraints while executives continually face the pressure of showing their clients and stakeholders the value of their operational strategy.The burgeoning demand for investment value underscores the importance of micro transformations in businesses. Micro transformations are incremental yet substantive initiatives that target an organization’s key performance indicators (KPIs) based on their overall business strategies. Compared to traditional projects, micro transformations can help identify bottlenecks and strengths of pre-existing processes. CIOs can use this agile methodology to generate value for their companies.Organizations can effect sustainable change across their people, processes, and technologies by focusing on gradual changes rather than larger-scale and time-consuming efforts. Micro transformations can help businesses adapt to and address disruptions while targeting their most valuable KPIs.Launching a new feature such as an automated customer service chatbot to address customer-specific pain points and adopting the cloud to streamline internal processes are examples of micro transformations. Another example of a micro-transformation project is the implementation of an online deposit account opening solution. In a remote world, financial institutions benefit from a completely digital, user-friendly and seamless customer experience. We see this demonstrated in some digital banks that allow the opening of deposit accounts with only a mobile phone. The ability to open a deposit account at any time and place provides immediate customer value.It should be noted, however, that micro transformations should also be guided by an overall transformation strategy to ensure that all micro transformation initiatives are cohesive. The small victories resulting from smaller, bite-sized technology upgrades can create instant value for organizations while paving the way for more robust digital initiatives, projects, and solutions later on.ADDRESSING DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION FATIGUEDigital transformation can be a cumbersome and intimidating process that may appear promising at the start but fail to deliver results. On the other hand, micro transformations can target benchmarks that would be most impacted by a new offering or service, reducing the time it would take for businesses to realize gains. Organizations can further develop operational efficiencies, risk mitigation, and resource optimization by clearly delineating KPIs.For example, an up-and-coming startup envisions a new strategy after having difficulties with launching its first product offering. This strategy involves interfacing with potential clients and investors while bolstering the former with recent market research. Getting fresh perspectives can help management focus on and refine critical areas most relevant to their strategic priorities. Considering the customers’ needs is vital in formulating a sustainable business plan, which organizations can do via smaller-scale initiatives.If one were to dissect a micro transformation, one could say that it is underpinned by more than just the solution and execution of the work. It also goes beyond automation and changes because it entails continuous improvement and deep process design efforts. This process incentivizes organizations to think big while creating an agile, scalable plan to materialize gains. By returning to the drawing board, companies can identify market opportunities and streamline their day-to-day operations, even if it means upending pre-existing processes. Micro transformations involve adapting to change with a data-substantiated, systematic approach coherent with the organization’s business strategy.REDUCE COMPLEXITY, ADD CONNECTIVITYTraditionally, an organization focuses on initiatives involving collaboration platforms, feedback mechanisms, and workflow plans. While these could yield positive results, siloed efforts often require considerable micromanagement, which could introduce more variables to an already complex system.Micro transformations take a more systematic approach by focusing on project-centered priorities. Data is fed to the appropriate teams, ensuring that the same workflow plan governs everyone. Knowledge is provided to the digital system, which continuously evolves with each project stage. This consolidated approach gives organizations a level of connectivity that would have been a challenge had they abided by standard and traditional practices. Micro transformations assist businesses with streamlining their day-to-day operations to adapt and respond to different risks, which could boost client and customer confidence.As companies pivot into the digital space, micro transformations allow them to capitalize on value-driven core capabilities and identify market opportunities without immense commitments. This streamlined process allows management to deconstruct silos and test the waters with less risk than traditional, larger-scale transformations. In this case, end-to-end digital transformation may be able to help businesses materialize value faster with minimal disruptions to day-to-day operations.ELEMENTS OF MICRO TRANSFORMATIONS1. Processing of data and identification of KPIsIdentifying and articulating KPIs are vital to micro transformations. Organizations can strengthen their overall strategy using analytics-driven data by focusing on metrics that directly impact the business.2. Optimization of KPIsOnce the organization has identified its KPIs, management can identify opportunities and pain points of the company. Consequently, they can refine their product offerings and address underlying areas of improvement.3. Engagement of clients and stakeholdersCommunicating with stakeholders at different points of the project is essential for the success of micro transformations. Organizations should align initiatives and engage interest to foster investor confidence.4. Identification of appropriate technologiesTechnology underpins successful micro transformations, and the former is requisite for implementing changes on an organization-wide scale. By leveraging suitable technologies, businesses can engineer KPI-specific solutions and implement agile application frameworks for various strategic initiatives.GETTING STARTED WITH MICRO TRANSFORMATIONSMicro transformations are holistic approaches that create business value based on their strategy-related benchmarks. This manifold process allows companies to enhance their operating models based on insights-driven data. Management must select projects carefully, delineate the appropriate KPIs, and focus on customer experiences and needs to boost confidence.While micro transformations can yield immediate gains, instant gratification is not the end goal. Ultimately, it is a systematic approach that can help organizations position themselves in the global market and pave their way toward bigger digital transformation agendas. This article is for general information only and is not a substitute for professional advice where the facts and circumstances warrant. The views and opinions expressed above are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of SGV & Co.Armand N. Cajayon, Jr. is a technology consulting principal of SGV & Co. 

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05 June 2023 Maria Kathrina S. Macaisa-Peña

Rethinking value: The evolution of consumer spending (Third Part)

Third of three partsAfter learning to live with less during the height of the pandemic, many consumers have shifted to pursuing simpler, less consumerist values, according to the EY Future Consumer Index. The study surveyed over 21,000 consumers in 27 countries to determine how consumers see changes in their values and how they look at life. With consumers less willing to spend, businesses have the opportunity to rethink the concept of growth and how to evaluate it.In the previous parts of this article, we discussed the drivers that could reshape consumption patterns, the significant changes in those patterns that are predicted to occur over the next few years, the factors affecting drivers of growth, and their implications for consumer companies.In this last part, we discuss how redefining success will reshape business as we know it and how companies can further understand changing consumer expectations.HOW REDEFINING SUCCESS WILL RESHAPE BUSINESSConsumer companies will need to examine their strategies, business models, and operational structures for them to adapt to this shifting consumer climate and make sure they are relevant to the evolving definitions of value. While not all potential changes will occur suddenly, the current trends already show significant changes in how consumer companies will define and assess success.The Future Consumer Index identified the following drivers that can reshape the existing measures of success:Peer-to-peer models. Peer-to-peer activities are expanding quickly thanks to community platforms, online marketplaces, social selling, and agile payment systems. This makes it possible for customers to independently sell, buy, trade, exchange, and gift goods and services. While this is not a new concept, the sudden growth of backyard businesses during the pandemic, as we have seen in our Philippine market, has given rise to a new generation of microentrepreneurs.Pricing at ‘true cost’. The desire for “true prices” that take into account social, environmental, and health concerns is growing despite the fact that algorithms can already optimize prices in real time for commercial impact. Product pricing may become more individualized to user profiles as data quality and analytics capabilities continue to advance.Well-being as status. As consumers promote lifestyles that emphasize well-being instead of wealth, exercise, sports apparel, healthier meals, and wellness getaways serve as status symbols.Co-creation with consumers. Through social influencers and crowdsourcing, interactive media has given rise to a wave of user-generated content. According to the Digital 2023 Global Overview Report, a social media study produced in partnership with social media agencies Meltwater and We Are Social, Philippine social media users account for as much as 72.5% of the population. Less restrictive intellectual property laws, 3D printing, and open-source tools may also potentially make it easier for customers to collaborate with brands to co-design, manufacture, market, and share the value of goods and services.Enhanced leadership through AI. The delivery of optimized insights that support operational and strategic direction will come more frequently via AI and automation. When business leaders outsource certain judgments and make more decisions based on facts and data, this could ultimately redefine functional positions within boardrooms.UNDERSTANDING CHANGING CONSUMER EXPECTATIONSCompanies will need to adapt to a world where growth and wealth are no longer the exclusive measures for development and success. Businesses will have the ability to control what lies ahead for them by recognizing what factors can potentially influence consumer expectations and behavior through the following points of action:Developing fresh value pools. While some existing value pools will provide revenue, others will make additional contributions that will help to create a more comprehensive understanding of how “good” is defined. Having strong financial balance sheets alone will not help a business succeed in the market, especially if they come at the expense of other factors, such as environmental, social, and governance (ESG) considerations. A company’s success cannot be determined solely by how many or how much of a product it can sell, but also by the services it can provide, the impact it can make, and the values or communities it can support.Innovating ways to meet consumer needs. Through scaling AI, releasing new manufacturing techniques, and unlocking efficient operating constructs, technology will allow consumer companies to deliver personalization at a lower cost and with less resource use. By enabling customers to participate in value creation through peer-to-peer selling and brand collaboration, service-based models that span several categories and industries will become more prevalent in order to meet consumer expectations. A new corporate mission that satisfies expectations for wellbeing by evaluating the true costs and benefits beyond those measured in financial currency will be foundational for this development.Reviewing impact and contribution. Retailers can offer more value in terms of the insights and data they share back to brands, their contributions to employee wellbeing, and their position in the community on top of the revenue generated by their stores. The success of consumer goods companies may also depend just as much on their capacity to address systemic environmental problems or enhance consumer health as it does on their capacity to persuade customers to buy their goods.REDEFINING SUCCESS TO BUILD LONG-TERM VALUEOf all the factors discussed, long-term value remains the most important. As social and environmental key performance indicators join financial metrics as drivers of long-term value, intangible assets are likewise becoming more significant in driving value. New definitions of success will challenge the prioritization of growth as stakeholder knowledge and influence expands through increased connectivity and transparency.Growth and profitability are currently viewed as indicators of how well consumer companies are able to meet the demands of the market. However, given rapidly and dramatically changing consumer behavior and priorities, companies will need to reimagine new strategies to build long-term value and sustainably deliver the products and experiences that consumers, both today and in the near future, truly want.  This article is for general information only and is not a substitute for professional advice where the facts and circumstances warrant. The views and opinions expressed above are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of SGV & Co.Maria Kathrina S. Macaisa-Peña is a business consulting partner and the consumer products and retail sector leader of SGV & Co. RELATED STORIES:First of three parts (22-May-2023) and Second of three parts (29-May-2023) 

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