2017 Retail Banking Trends in 3, 2, 1 …

By Eric Jones

Staying relevant in the face of change.

Consumer expectations are changing more rapidly than ever. Today’s digital landscape enables speed, innovation, and transformation of people’s everyday lives—including the way they bank. Consumers have grown accustomed to accessing their money at any time and executing transactions immediately, all with ease and reliability through multiple channels. These changes have implications for every area of retail banking, from the branch to mobile, all of it underpinned with a need for more and better analysis of information.

Managing the range of channels required to meet customer preferences can be a challenge for financial institutions. In this brave new world, the physical branch, digital technology, and data analytics can combine to create a complementary experience that engages customers by meeting their needs when and where they prefer.

1. Managing branch transformation.

The current model for branch transformation blends offline and online channels by bringing self-service and digital capabilities to the branch. These capabilities will increasingly blend with the face-to-face contact people expect at a branch. Interactive teller machines and biometric authentication in the teller line will help speed interactions, while staff can use tablets to serve or advise customers anywhere in the branch.

Leveraging technology also can help financial institutions shift routine transactions such as depositing a check or withdrawing money to self-service channels—whether that is via the customer’s own device or one provided within the branch. Evolving these in-house transactions to digital in-house transactions can help reduce costs for financial institutions and free up staff to focus on other tasks. These changes will also contribute to branches becoming more advisory environments where people can find help for more complex needs, such as mortgages, business loans and wealth management services.

Some institutions are already shifting branches to have smaller footprints and they may also begin to have more of a café ambiance, depending on the particular financial institution’s strategy.

2. Serving mobile-first users.

People who primarily use their smartphones to manage and move money are affecting product development, delivery models and branch activity. These mobile-first users expect to be able to use their mobile devices for all of their financial needs and view branches as a last resort. As mobile devices and apps continue to become more advanced and the next generation of banking customers comes of age, the number of mobile-first customers will likely continue to grow.

Serving mobile-first customers means offering more robust banking capabilities on the mobile device. This does not mean, however, that mobile-first users require services created exclusively for them. Capabilities created with these customers in mind can benefit all customers that use mobile banking. A particularly good example is the ability to monitor and manage finances with meaningful, actionable alerts. The ‘always on, instant access’ themes of the digital world increasingly resonate with all generational groups.

Financial institutions also should be mindful to create customer acquisition and relationship-building strategies that do not require branch involvement to be sure customers who visit the branch less frequently, or not at all, are still being reached.

3. Maximizing data analytics.

Until recently, only the largest, most progressive financial institutions fully leveraged data to influence revenue, customer acquisition, and cost efficiency, often building much of their capability from scratch. Technology providers are now scaling analytics solutions so that a broader range of financial institutions can more readily target offers, promotions, and services to customers based on their preferences, past actions, and predicted activity.

Coupling this data with mobile delivery enables financial institutions to offer the right offer at the right time. For those financial institutions that lack in-house resources, reaching out to a technology provider can lower up-front technology and implementation costs while providing the necessary expertise to derive value out of data.

Staying ahead of consumer expectations for speed, design and innovation is an ongoing challenge that requires continual changes to the services financial institutions deliver, as well as how they are delivered. Financial institutions can meet this challenge by transforming branches, effectively serving the growing number of mobile users and harnessing the power of data analytics. Consumers continue to have high levels of trust in their financial institutions, and if financial institutions offer the services consumers want, how they want, consumers will continue to turn to financial institutions first when they need to manage or move money.

Eric Jones is SVP of product management and bank solutions, at Fiserv.