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Opening large data sets up to customers is vital to helping the finance sector sector regain lost trust, according to a panel of industry experts.

Finance sector firms must open up their large data sets to customers in order to regain lost trust, according to a panel of industry experts.

Speaking at a panel session at Salesforce’s vendor conference in London on Thursday, Jonathon Wood, head of systems at Bank of Cyprus UK, said that the finance sector needs to readdress the way it utilises information gathered on clients.

“Thus far I get the impression that the banking industry has kind of used data against its customers,” he said. “In other words, they have used it as a weapon to persuade or coerce them - possibly to buy a product or more services.”

He said that the sector needs to open up its vast amounts of information back to customers to regain trust and drive more sustainable long term business gains.

“The next step for the financial services industry, given that we have an image problem at the moment of our own making, is to use that data with our customers," he said.

“That might mean in the short term that they use less services. But in the longer term the idea is to build trust and loyalty amongst you customer base - two things which are in short supply in the financial services industry at the moment.”

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He added: “It means more business coming our way, based on trust and loyalty and customers who are prepared to work with you, and to share their data, rather than mistrusting what their information will be used for. That is where we see the future of data.”

Similar suggestions were made in the insurance industry, with Ian Cohen, CIO at JLT, saying that providers need to realise the potential to engender customer loyalty, while also opening up the possibility of new areas of revenue.

“At the moment we are looking at where we can take information that absolutely belongs to our clients, and see if can we publish that data back to them with a value add. We are just the custodians of that data,” he said.

“If you can do that then you are going to have a much more engaged workforce and much better relationships with customers.”

According to Jules Elliott, chief customer officer, DLG at Direct Line Group, one example of how the exchange of data can reward customers is through the development of telematics applications in the insurance industry, which will allow detailed monitoring of drivers through sensors deployed in cars, but also enable reduced rates.

“Customers are happy to share data and telematics, and in future via home-based sensors and so on, but they want to see a value exchange for that. So why are they paying to ensure their car when it is parked in their garage? This is the where it is going to go with big data.”