Survey: Bank executives optimistic about financial sector’s future

Bank leaders are “cautiously optimistic” about the future, believing that current trends such as increased digitalization and a focus on ESG will positively affect their institutions, according to a new survey by analytics software provider SAS. The company polled more than 500 bank executives from around the world on the challenges and opportunities facing banks between now and 2035. Respondents ranked “digitalization of financial services” as the trend most influencing the banking industry. More than half (54%) of respondents saw it as a positive trend although almost a quarter (24%) believed it was among the greatest risks to their institutions.

The emergence of cryptocurrencies was viewed as another top trend, with most respondents (54%) seeing it as a positive development. Bank executives also identified the increasing risk of cyberattacks as a top trend, although a majority (53%) identified it as one of the greatest risks their institutions faced. Roughly a third (36%) said the increasing importance of ESG was a top trend, with 41% seeing it as an opportunity and 22% seeing it as a risk.

The survey also polled executives on their attitudes toward the financial service sector’s social responsibilities. About three-quarters of respondents (76%) said that the sector is obligated to address societal issues. Eighty-two percent said banking can pursue profit and a better society at the same time, with 81% saying their institutions take responsibility for the social impacts of their activities.