Can banks be at the center of customers’ lives?

One thing that’s clear is that the future of retail banking is all about the customer journey. For example, take The Financial Brand’s Top 10 Retail Banking Trends for 2019. The annual report found that “For the first time ever, the use of data, artificial intelligence (AI), and advanced analytics was ranked first, replacing improving the customer experience as the number one trend…the importance of innovation was also a trend that increased in importance in this year’s survey.”

Contributors to the crowd-sourced report almost all see an expanding role for banks: financial wellness, not just savings and investment; help finding a new house and moving; not just a mortgage but tailored products that meet customers’ needs, although the examples are sparse.

Time and again, banks’ idea of holistic financial management has been to push over-priced in-house products at clients.

Underlying the report is an exaggerated idea of the role banks play in the lives of customers and a toned-down concept  of the digitally enabled customer. For most people, a bank’s function is to receive payroll deposits and store them until they are spent, saved or invested — just a money motel in the words of Ron Shevlin, research director at Cornerstone Advisors. For the customer, it is often a low-touch relationship. Occasionally, maybe every three to eight years, a customer might want a car loan, and even less frequently a mortgage. And as even mortgages can be arranged on a mobile phone, the customer relationship may become even more transactional.

This article was published as part of Weekly Briefing No. 159