Change as a driving force
The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the megatrend of digitalisation. Digital performance is increasingly becoming a factor that sets businesses apart from the competition.
Alexander Lichtenberg, Member of the Executive Board
Rarely have the challenges facing businesses in all sectors of industry matched those of March 2020. Overnight, we were required to maintain social distance from one another because of the Covid-19 pandemic. For us at Union Investment, this meant that almost our entire workforce – totalling more than 3,000 colleagues at the time – had to switch over to teleworking. At the same time, the stability of all our business operations had to be guaranteed at all times. This presented a huge challenge for our IT infrastructure. But by working together we managed to overcome this challenge extremely successfully.
The pandemic also challenged us in another way. The developments on the capital markets observed particularly at the start of the pandemic, and which in some cases occurred very quickly, led to considerable uncertainty among many partners and clients. We had to provide support and be on hand for our joint clients. Answering questions and providing reassurance required much more than just a great deal of technical knowledge. Above all, colleagues also had to show empathy for the partners or clients they were in contact with. And all this was needed at a time when each of us was also facing immense personal challenges. The professionalism of our customer service, which has won numerous awards from outside bodies, proved its worth during this period. It became clear that proximity to partners and clients is a key factor in ensuring the stability of our operations, particularly in challenging times. I would particularly like to extend my thanks to our colleagues for the way they have coped with this crisis.
“Digitalisation is changing from being a supporter to a driver of sustainable business models.“
Member of the Executive Board
Seizing the opportunities offered by an increasingly digital environment
Now, however, we need to look to the future. We want to ensure that our level of performance is maintained and improved by targeted investments. To this end, we need to identify new opportunities. The change, which was accelerated by the pandemic in many ways, is a driving force for us. For example, the megatrend of digitalisation is rapidly gaining importance and increasingly changing from being a supporter to a driver of sustainable business models. One of the most obvious examples of this is the growth of online retail, which is increasingly competing with conventional retail.
We want and need to take advantage of the opportunities offered by this increasingly digital environment. It offers the opportunity to make processes even more efficient and effective, for instance through the use of company-wide platforms and by working with cloud computing. At the same time, digitalisation is changing the behaviour of our clients. This requires the development of tailored solutions for collaborating with our partners to cover the digital interface between us and our joint clients. Development work in this area is continuing successfully. We have taken on a pioneering role in the Genossenschaftliche FinanzGruppe cooperative network with projects such as MeinInvest and MeinVermögen.
Becoming even stronger in a time of change
To leverage further potential, we need to become even more flexible and tech-savvy, while at the same time boosting our digital presence and taking particular account of the needs of our partner banks and clients. Their interests are the primary concern of our developments. This is one of the reasons why the future-oriented optimisation of the investment and custody business is one of our key focus areas. Our goal is to create an omnichannel environment by the end of 2023, which we can use to collaborate even more successfully with our partners and reach our clients in a way that is tailored to target groups. We are confident that this will better equip us to pursue opportunities at a time of change and position ourselves even more strongly.