Diversity and inclusion have recently become top goals in the strategic policies of many banks, but how is execution matching up? Research continues to expose large gaps between good intentions on paper and good outcomes in practice. Diversity and inclusion are more than nice-sounding words; when realized, they boost profitability. Banks that go no further than prioritising these goals in mission statements miss out on playing the ace.
Robotics has long been touted as the next big wave that will boost efficiency, increase customer satisfaction and, most importantly, slash costs and maximize profits. Robo-advisors are now entrenched in the investment industry, but most of these firms are not experiencing all of the benefits of automation; in fact, many of them are losing money. What are the main factors cheating robo-advisors of profitability?
Successful e-commerce is as much about the customer experience as anything else. Choices need to be clear but abundant; payment quick and easy—or customers will move on. Having become accustomed to purchasing goods and services seamlessly through digital channels, customers expect the same from their providers of financial products and services. Banks need to employ a lesson or two from the e-commerce giants to meet customer expectations.
Open Banking, which allows third parties to build applications around the activities of established banks, is curtailing the way banks have always functioned. The tried-and-true vertical-integration model, through which a bank maintains a firm grip on all of its operations, is being replaced by a more cooperative approach. How will innovative banks fulfill their roles as suppliers, producers and retailers of financial products and services in the Open Banking era?
Automation saves time, cuts cost and carries out routine tasks with unmatched efficiency, so who wouldn’t welcome it? Possibly the people whose income currently depends on carrying out those tasks. Digitalization is guaranteed to strip out much routine work in banking, but it will not necessary mean fewer bank jobs. Roles will be reinvented so that technology frees human staff to provide customers with excellent advice and service.
Many bankers love blockchain for its potential to maximize efficiency and productivity while slashing costs and security risks. But the crypto-currencies, such as the (in)famous bitcoin, tied to it? Not so much—at least not across the board. While giving the thumbs up to distributed ledger technology for its advantages in areas such as trade finance, industry leaders are maintaining a wary eye on cryptos, due to disadvantages such as volatility.
Rarely has a technology been met with the excitement and trepidation that AI has. Because artificial intelligence not only matches but can surpass human intelligence, it is exciting as a means to improve speed, save cost and maximize accuracy—but menacing for its potential to displace human workers. Banks are embracing AI for its staggering benefits, while also acknowledging that it creates a few wrinkles that need ironing out.
Traditionally the banking sector has been shrouded in secrecy, guardians of not only customer financial data but their own internal information. In the aftermath of the 2007 financial crisis, stakeholders, customers and regulators have demanded more honesty from the industry.
Institutions from government to universities are no longer what they once were in the public mind, but banks have fared worse in the court of public opinion than many others, according to a Gallup poll.
Regulatory change is coming, geared towards increasing competition and innovation in retail banking. This is good news for customers. In August this year, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) released recommendations arising from its investigation into the retail banking sector.