RESEARCH REPORT

In brief

In brief

  • Accenture research shows that true enterprise agility delivers significant financial benefits.
  • Financial services firms on average score low on speed & adaptiveness and stability, the two key elements that comprise enterprise agility.
  • Rewiring the business for speed, adaptiveness and stability is not easy, but the competitive and financial rewards could hardly be greater.


Enterprise agility—the ability to respond rapidly to opportunities and disruption—is a strategic imperative for financial services (FS) organizations. In a volatile world, agility is required to respond and adapt to a changing and uncertain environment.

New Accenture research confirms that enterprise agility delivers better financial results and improved long-term competitive advantage. It also shows that FS firms on average score low on speed and stability, the two key elements that comprise enterprise agility.

The research indicates that firms categorized as ‘Truly Agile’ are twice as likely as the average organization to achieve top-quartile financial performance, and many times as likely as firms rated ‘At Risk’ – which is where most of FS is currently placed.

Truly agile organizations rewire the business for speed & adaptiveness and stability, adjusting leadership, culture, risk and governance, funding and investment, the organizational structure, workforce, channels and operations, technology and data. They embrace both continuous change and radical transformation.

‘At Risk’ banks and insurers are stuck in legacy business models and with propositions, operations, cultures and workforces, and technology that are slow to change. The research indicates they may have experimented with innovation, but they’ve failed to scale new ideas with commercial value in their core business.

These organizations remain at risk of slow compression by market forces and niche digital players entering the industry with new business models. Incumbents often struggle to adapt to disruption and change in the market, whether it is caused by shifting regulation, new technology, market volatility or changing customer demands.

The financial services industry scores below average for velocity and adaptiveness

Four key elements contribute to the velocity & adaptiveness score of financial services firms: speed to market, responding rapidly, exploiting opportunities, and staying ahead. Financial Services’ speed to market score is just below average (47th percentile), but those for responding rapidly (37th percentile), exploiting opportunities (30th percentile) and staying ahead (26th percentile) are much lower.

However, a small number of banks and insurers—the change leaders—have worked out how to rewire their business for continuous change to stay ahead of the market. At the same time, they are exploring and building innovative new business models to take them into the future.

Truly agile firms are more than twice as likely as the average organization to achieve top-quartile financial performance (55 percent versus 25 percent).

Achieving true agility

To achieve true enterprise agility, firms must move beyond agile methodologies in IT or on isolated change programs—they must develop responsiveness to market forces and opportunities across all facets of the business, while maturing the stabilizing cultural and governance spine of the organization.

There are practical steps that can be taken to increase enterprise agility. These can be done from any starting point and even in a regulated industry context:

  • Get started by setting the right direction and ambition.
  • Introduce agile to create initial momentum, with pockets of faster change and more responsive business operations in key areas of focus.
  • Scale the use of agile across the ‘change’ and ‘run’ portfolios, accompanied by a strengthening of delivery disciplines.
  • Progressively rewire the business for speed and stability across the ‘run’ and the ‘change’ operating models.

We have helped many banks and insurers take strides towards enterprise agility. To find out more and get started on your enterprise agility journey, register to view the report.

Andrew Woolf

Global Lead – Talent and Organization for Financial Services


Andy Young

Global Lead for Agile Organization – Talent and Organization


James Tabernor

Agile Organization Specialist – Talent and Organization

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