As new regulations and higher liquidity requirements challenge future profits, banks are under pressure to build new operations centred around the client. IBM’s new survey of the Top 200 global banks finds that less than 10% believe that maintaining the status quo is a sustainable business strategy.
The new report, “From Complexity to Client Centricity” finds that operational complexity is costing the ecosystem $200-billion annually and constraining pre-tax profits by an average of 20%.
While banks seem to understand the need for change to drive growth initiatives, to actually do this, they need to build a holistic view of the client to better understand client needs, improve the client experience and more effectively manage risk. The upside is that if banks are able to successfully tailor products and services to customer, IBM’s research has found that clients are willing to pay up to a 10% premium for their services.
More than 60% of bankers believe that pricing innovation will help build client loyalty and improve profits in the new environment.
For banks to better understand their clients’ needs and further improve their experiences, IBM recommends:
* Enhancing pricing models to meet client needs in different segments;
* Modernising client segmentation techniques; and
* Maximising client experience and client satisfaction in the different channels of interaction.
“Banks worldwide need to invest in sophisticated insight to help them specialise operations and deliver superior products and services that best meet their clients’ needs,” says Ronny Smulders, financial services sector executive at IBM South Africa. “Data is at the core of IBM's heritage — from the invention of the first commercial electronic calculator to magnetic stripe technology to securing online transactions. These are just a few examples of how IBM has driven innovation through the better use of technology during its 100-year history.”
Banks that effectively price products and services can use pricing as a competitive tool. According to IBM’s survey, approximately a quarter of all banks currently employ standardised pricing, regardless of the client relationship. But this trend also appears to be waning. In forecasting pricing strategies for the future, only 12% to 13% of banks said they would use standardised, “across the board” strategies; a majority of the bankers favouring innovative and flexible models instead.
To achieve more granular pricing, banks will have to be more granular in their client segmentation to accommodate various risk models and differing abilities to pay. IBM’s research finds that 60% of banks are prepared to offer self-service pricing bundles as an option to empower clients to choose price, channel, and level of service.
IBM’s research indicates that not enough banks are accessing the right customer data to determine effective pricing strategies. For example, 70% of bankers identified that they need more data on client risks.
Instead of looking at demographics, IBM’s research suggests that banks should look at attitude and behaviour segmentation, to better align with customer’s interests and needs. By investing in the right technologies, banks can overcome some of the traditional barriers to gain deeper client insight and offer more tailored services. Interestingly, banks in mature markets, more so than those in emerging markets, are focusing on client service to regain trust (43% versus 31%)
Naturally, the bank’s focus of coming up with the right pricing strategies and delivering tailored services, is all ultimately geared towards increasing client satisfaction in the channel.
To increase client satisfaction rates in the channel, the survey says banks need to understand three things: how people bank; how often they bank; and what products and services they seek when banking.
Banks that can optimise satisfaction in the channel – by determining which customers prefer using electronic channels vs. traditional branch channels – and then ensure the right delivery models are accessible to those who prefer them – will be best positioned for success.
The new economic environment presents banks with some complicated issues, as well as some interesting opportunities. Despite facing differing market conditions, banks on both sides of the world can benefit from applying technology to gain more visibility and transparency to their business challenges, according to the study. Banks in mature markets need to eliminate complexity and reduce costs to drive profits, while banks in growth markets need to diversify their income sources and maintain their costs.
There are huge opportunities for growth market banks to deliver services into burgeoning segments such as private banking and wealth management, as well into untapped communities such as the unbanked. By using more sophisticated insight, banks can increase their focus on becoming more client-centric, while optimising risks and returns.