In the digital era, what could be more normal than the ability to access your bank from wherever and whenever you wish to carry out hassle-free everyday banking transactions. In tandem with this trend, the banker’s role is evolving towards greater specialisation with in-depth support for more complex requirements and diverse situations. And it’s clients who reap the rewards!
You will certainly have noticed that the banking sector has been undergoing some profound changes over the last few years. We are far from the time when all interaction took place at the branch with your family banker. Today we are living in a multi-channel era when you can communicate with your bank using whichever channel best suits your situation and requirements – online banking, secure messaging, video conferences with an expert, telephone calls and, of course, branch meetings. What has driven these changes? First and foremost, clients themselves.
Clients are more autonomous and more demanding
The main driver for these changes is the increasing proportion of cosmopolitan, digital native clients characterised by increasingly diverse situations and ever more specialised requirements. Such clients are keen to carry out practically all of their daily banking transactions autonomously, wherever and whenever it suits them. Most of you have no desire to “waste time” queueing in the branch to make a transfer or find information on a standard service. On the other hand, when it comes to high value-added services or advice, you expect to be able to rely on an expert in their field who can provide rapid solutions to meet each situation.
Faced with these trends, banks have sought to offer clients increasing levels of autonomy to simplify their daily financial affairs.
Excellence through specialisation…
In an attempt to meet these expectations, banks have sought to offer clients increasing levels of autonomy to simplify their daily financial affairs. The need for more specialised expertise has also gradually become necessary in response to increasingly demanding regulations and ever more sophisticated solutions. Faced with these two trends, few banking roles are likely to disappear, but all will be required to move towards greater specialisation and the acquisition of new skill sets. The objective: to be in a position to offer you the right contact person at the right time offering the right level of service. How do I do this?
To achieve their objective, today’s banks are looking to combine the best elements of the digital and human worlds. The best elements of the digital world can be found in the widespread automation and simplification of low value-added transactions together with better analysis of client data to assess the level and nature of the services best suited to each individual client. As requirements evolve, particularly at certain key times in your life (marriage, retirement, home purchase, etc.), banks offer expert, personalised support upon request It is then that the best elements of human service are needed to understand more complex requirements and offer adequate expertise to provide a suitable response. At such times, a meeting at your branch or via video conference also comes into its own. The level of support offered is constantly adapted to your requirements.
… and better cooperation
In theory, having various experts available to meet your differing requirements is a very good thing. In practice, you will doubtless wonder about the quality of follow-up on your requests. Of course, you have no wish to re-explain your situation and story to the bank each time you meet a new expert. And quite right too!
Banks must be in a position to keep a full overview of each client, their background, current situation and likely future requirements.
For this new model to be efficient, banks must continue to foster better cooperation between the various specialists called upon to support the same client. First and foremost, banks must be in a position to maintain a full overview of each client, their background, current situation and likely future requirements. This requires them to invest enormous sums in secure systems that are able to maintain, analyse and classify client data whilst also guaranteeing respect for legal data protection requirements. Finally, training employees for this new approach also constitutes a major challenge.
The implementation of this service model cannot happen overnight and some clients may be a little unsettled by all these changes, particularly when there are hitches along the way. There is no need to panic, as implementation takes shape, the vast majority of clients find what they are looking for.
Different services for different clients
Does specialisation mean the end of the family banker? The answer is that this depends on each specific family and their requirements. The real objective for banks is to roll out a service model where every client has a high level of autonomy and a service level to suit the reality of their individual situation.
A client who only needs their bank to manage day-to-day transactions and for a few basic services will be perfectly satisfied with a secure and efficient online banking website, bank cards, a secure messaging system and a hotline that can be contacted in the event of difficulties. A client who also wants the help of their bank in realising certain life goals such as buying a home, will be happy to rely on the support of a specialist who is able to respond directly to their questions and offer a suitable solution when the time comes. Lastly, a family needing detailed financial, wealth and tax advice will be best served by a dedicated banking contact. This person will not be a specialist in all fields, but rather an orchestra conductor able to mobilise and coordinate the various experts within the bank at the appropriate time.
This new approach constitutes the response of banks to the changing habits and expectations of their clients, and not the reverse.
Better or worse than previously?
Are all of these changes beneficial to the client? What you have read thus far will make it clear that the answer to this question is yes, providing the bank has properly identified each client’s real situation and requirements. And what’s more, we should remember that, first and foremost, this new approach constitutes the response of banks to the changing habits and expectations of their clients, and not the reverse. This is why all major banks are moving towards such a model, albeit at different speeds. However, although the role of the banker and the way it is carried out is changing, the motivation remains the same: to be in a position to simplify your day-to-day financial affairs and help you bring your plans to fruition so that you can look to the future with optimism.
Some people may have more trouble adapting to certain aspects of these changes, particularly the digitalisation of services. For this reason, banks provide a great deal of support with the transition to digital practices, from responses to frequently asked questions, online tutorials, helplines and specially trained branch employees.
The concept of the bank branch is also evolving towards a place used predominantly for pre-scheduled advisory meetings as the day-to-day requirements of clients are increasingly managed remotely.
The specialisation of bankers is a logical response to changing requirements, regulatory obligations and ever more complex situations. It offers real advantages for clients, providing that banks effectively manage the challenges of internal cooperation and devote the means necessary to maintain a full overview of the specific situation of each of their clients. Banks are investing considerable amounts of money to roll out the tools that make this possible and to train their teams to ensure better interdisciplinary communication.