Consumer relationship management (CRM) and other technologies can help businesses take advantage of opportunities and react more quickly to changes in their environment, particularly when it comes to the financial services industry, a new study has suggested.

According to the report from Ricoh Europe and the Economist Intelligence Unit, only one in ten British finance firms – including retail, corporate and investment banking as well as insurance – feel they are prepared to respond to unexpected changes in the future.

Given the extended period of flux that has characterised the financial services sector in recent years, this could prove to be something of a concern.

Carsten Bruhn, executive vice-president at Ricoh, said: “Juggling so many obstacles, while at the same time trying to focus on client services, transform internal processes and ensure regulatory compliance is a monumental task. It’s no wonder that financial services leaders are feeling under pressure.”

According to Mr Bruhn, embracing the possibilities offered by new technologies can reduce the stress facing finance chiefs while ensuring their businesses are as flexible and effective as possible in the current economic and regulatory environment.

Processes such as “customer communication management services” can improve the relationship businesses enjoy with their clients while automating a relatively time-consuming and expensive part of the operation, driving up efficiency levels within the sector, he posited.

The Ricoh study found the most crucial areas where financial services firms need to change their approach to be in the field of adopting new technologies, attracting and retaining customers, and improving core business processes, in that order of preference.

While 54 per cent of respondents said they have many ideas about how they can change their approach in the future, they also admitted to lacking the ability to implement these concepts at the moment.

Concerns are also in place about changing processes too quickly, which can result in losing customers, the study revealed.