As digitisation takes over, Steven Robinson, Chief Operating Officer for Bibby Financial Services, considers the future of banking and asks what role relationship management will take in the bank of the future?
We are in a significant period of change in the finance sector. The global economic crisis of 2008 and the subsequent years of stagnation, double dip recessions and the emergence of new global powers have been a catalyst for change – a change that was probably long overdue.
Largely blamed as one of the main culprits of the crisis, banks have been under pressure from regulators, policymakers and the general public for the past six years and as a result many, if not all, have undertaken comprehensive reviews of their selling practices, capital reserves, profitability and expenditure, product portfolios and culture.
Coupled with the uptake of affordable technology, and the public’s growing acceptance of technology as a part of everyday life, as well as the growing culture of instant gratification and increasing demand for products and services to be delivered almost instantaneously, it’s easy to see why there has been so much change in financial services. And it’s not over yet. Changes of this magnitude take time – particularly in a sector renowned for its conservatism, and that has been around in one form or another for thousands of years – and it may not be until the end of the decade that we have a clearer picture of how the sector will service society’s needs in the future.
There are many benefits of these changes for businesses and consumers alike – more transparent and fairer practices, and a wider range of products and services at different price points from many different providers, are the two that spring to mind.
END OF AN ERA
However, as the evolution gathers pace are there positive elements of the practices of old that are at risk of being forgotten or lost? There used to be a time when as a consumer or a business you had a direct relationship with your bank manager. He or she was the friendly face behind a desk at the bank or came to visit your business, and who would take the time to understand what you were trying to achieve. They’d speak to you about your aspirations, projections, experience, requirements, challenges and pressures.
Nevertheless, it seems in the current climate that relationship banking is a dying art. Banks have been cost driven, rather than customer driven, for a long time. Even before 2008 they were losing sight of their key focus – customers – and subsequent regulation and scrutiny do not seem to have shifted this trend.