ARE BANKS FAILING GENERATION X?

It is an undeniable fact that most Millennials carry some sort of instinctive ability to understand and utilize digital technology simply because they have been born into a digital era. The older generation, whose birth years range from the early-to-mid 1960s to the early 1980s, also referred to as Generation X, have in contrast either adapted to digital technology after being fascinated by it, or they have been forced to reckon with it in order to survive in a technology driven environment. The banking industry is no different. HamidrezaGhanbari, CEO of Pilatus Bank, believes that Generation X might get left behind as the banking industry is transitioning to more complex FinTech solutions through the use of mobile and online platforms.

Hamidreza Ghanbari
Hamidreza Ghanbari

The Generation X-ers can usually be spotted with a printed boarding pass at the airport, they prefer to read a manual from a booklet as opposed to online, and whereas they book their theatre tickets online, they often prefer to print them as opposed to presenting them electronically. When it comes to their banking requirements, what are their attributes and behaviours? HamidrezaGhanbari, CEO of Pilatus Bank believes that whereas most Generation X-ers have been accustomed to learning new technologies, mainly through interacting with early adopters, they aren’t always enthusiastic in learning new systems, and some might even approach innovation with a high degree of scepticism and a real unwillingness to conform.

Ghanbari says, “Most retail banks, as part of their FinTech strategy, are enabling customers to perform their banking transactions using their smartphones or through online banking; hence, they never have to set foot in a branch.” This might sound like a great solution for banks as a mean of moving away from the old brick and mortar model. However, Ghanbari highlights that this transition has been very muddled, ultimately creating a massive service gap. He states, “Banks have certainly failed to capture customers’ imagination, and that is why you see Generation X still relying on in-person banking, which has given a new life to branch-based models like Metro Bank.”

Ghanbari also recognises that although banks and FinTech companies try to disrupt the market with new technologies, very few have been able to match in-person customer experience in terms of quality of service. People still believe that if they visit a branch they will get the service that they require. He therefore reiterates, “Instead of focusing on the latest technological advances, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) or hopeless efforts on robo-advisory, banks need to get the basics right. If banks truly want to stay relevant to Generation X, which is at the core of today’s customer base, they have to deliver products and services that are convenient and easy to use.”

The CEO of Pilatus Bank believes that technology should serve as a tool and that human interaction should remain a priority. He explains, “At Pilatus Bank we honour the banker and client relationship. We understand that ‘knowing and being known by your banker’ is still very important for many people; especially Generation X which makes up a very large part of the mass-affluent.”  Pilatus Bank’s digital technology platform is designed based on the client-banker interaction rather than moving towards a pure one-sided and self-service platform. HamidrezaGhanbari of Pilatus Bank concludes that, “We believe this is a unique way of embracing technology whilst still prioritising human interaction where Generation X would not only find it easy to use, but also embrace it as a matter of lifestyle.”

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