Key Lessons from a Year of Learning: Ask the Expert in Review

Saturday 28th November 2020

2020 put financial services providers around the world to the test. They faced stagnating (if not regressing) economies, lockdowns, and closed borders—all while struggling to fill the continued demand for services and help struggling small businesses stay afloat.

In recognition of the uncharted territory, in April, we pivoted our Ask the Expert series to capture financial services providers’ responses to the pandemic. While there is no one-size-fits-all solution, some universal successful elements included:

Put employees first: Banks with strong diversity & Inclusion (D&I) strategies and processes demonstrated the agility to adapt to the “new normal” faster, by

  1. Guaranteeing jobs and salaries
  2. Pivoting seamlessly to flexible working environments and telework
  3. Providing a safe working environment on the physical premises
  4. Prioritizing mental well-being with check-ins, enforced work-life balance, yoga, and other community events

Value your clients: Banks with women-centered strategies have built strong customer-centric capabilities over time. These banks successfully served customers throughout the pandemic, by

  1. Ensuring safety through new measures for in-person transactions
  2. Focusing on the most vulnerable clients with cash deliveries to homes and support as they migrate to digital solutions
  3. Alleviating financial strains with loan moratoriums and interest rate discounts
  4. Continuing to offer comprehensive non-financial services that make the bank a one-stop-shop for clients’ everyday needs

Don’t forget where you are: Banks in our network were among leading groups of trusted institutions that served their wider communities and countries by

  1. Collaborating with the public sector at unprecedented levels to provide support for struggling families and small businesses
  2. Acting as great corporate citizens by raising awareness of and providing help to address issues such as the escalation in domestic violence
  3. Donating to healthcare workers and purchasing PPE from their own clients while championing equality, especially by purchasing from women-led microenterprises

Check The Vault for recordings of all past sessions from “business in times of crisis” series (members only)

This October, we moved to “The New Normal” series to capture members’ long-term strategies to be part of the transformations taking place all over the world, by responding to women’s evolving needs. So far we’ve heard from Access Bank, Nigeria and HBL, Pakistan, both leading women’s markets efforts in their populous and highly under-banked countries. HBL for instance has seen a remarkable 50 percent growth in digital banking customer base and a 95 percent uplift in transactions year-over-year. This acceleration to digital has enabled more and more women to become banked for the first time. We look forward to learning more from the experts in our network in the coming months.

Register for our upcoming and final session of 2020 on December 10 with First City Monument Bank, Nigeria, by sending an email at