By Frans Labuschagne, UK & Ireland Country Manager, Entersekt
Banks should follow in the footsteps of other innovative consumer-focused industries to deliver an omnichannel banking experience that is relationship-focused, interactive, relevant and personal.
Never has technology accelerated changes in consumer behaviour so quickly that whatever is cutting-edge today becomes tomorrow’s status quo. And, consumers’ expectations of digital services and platforms change even more rapidly.
For example, consumers are no longer completely satisfied with having content available digitally and on demand; they want personalised suggestions specifically tailored for them. And why shouldn’t they? They expect the same from their social media platforms, where personalised ads are as familiar now as they were once disconcerting.
In fact, today’s mobile-first society enables personalisation on a scale never seen before, which has transformed consumer habits – from how they spend their free time to how they plan vacations, where and when they shop, and even how they manage their homes.
New age banking
Banking customers are no different when it comes to managing their money. They expect to access their information, and perform an ever-expanding list of banking actions anywhere, anytime and on any device. They expect their bank to meet their individual needs and preferences in the same way that their media streaming service or favourite big tech company does. With these expectations, they’re challenging what banks do, why they do it and how it’s done.
Large-scale changes in the banking landscape mean that consumers are spoilt for choice, and recent studies indicate that many would even consider going over to the competition – including to non-traditional players – if their current providers fell behind in service delivery and no longer met their expectations.
Meeting customers’ expectations no longer hinges on a multichannel strategy per se. Although multichannel banking has been around for years, it is no longer ground-breaking and certainly does not provide a competitive advantage. What can give banks the edge, however, is taking stock of their various channels and strategically considering how their customers use them, and what this reveals about their preferences.
Taking lessons from retail
Traditionally, banks spend much of their time and effort ensuring accurate transaction processing, but they’re starting to recognise that there are valuable lessons to be learnt from industries, like retail, that place a strong emphasis on customer experience. Some of the world’s top-rated banks understood this years ago when they were still considered challenger banks. They succeeded in turning customer experience into a competitive advantage that resulted in increased market share and remarkable customer satisfaction rates.
For the retailers known for their customer-first perspective, it is their store of data that gives them the edge over their competitors. They know that every time a customer searches online from their computer or mobile device, or calls the customer service department, that customer leaves a digital trail. This data-rich trail leads to a more intimate understanding of that customer and therefore what it takes to provide them with more relevant services and offerings – the essence of contextual commerce.
Smart organisations recognise the possibilities that using data in this way opens up. Instead of having a handful of interactions with their consumers each month, they can establish meaningful, ongoing and highly personalised interactions every day.
Ensuring that these exchanges are truly valuable to customers is not always easy, especially when a bank must simultaneously balance factors like cost, legacy systems and competition. For many banks, a digital-first, or even a digital-only strategy, seemed like the answer. After all, digital channels have great potential in terms of cost savings and keeping up with the competition. However, research indicates that satisfaction levels among digital-only banking customers is significantly lower than among digital-centric customers, i.e., those that occasionally also use branches. So, while leveraging digital channels is a must for any bank, losing sight of the importance of branches, and the opportunity they provide to personally interact with customers, can be detrimental.
So, how can banks provide the level of service consumers demand, through the channels they prefer, while managing to offer a consistent experience across them all? Leveraging the mobile device, a universal tool that consumers always have with them, could provide the answer.
If the mobile device could be leveraged to securely identify a customer to their bank, it could become the ideal way to build confidence in sophisticated technologies. And even though the mobile device is a digital tool, it could also enhance the customer’s in-branch experience. For example, customers could use it to check in at a specific branch, authenticate interactions and digitally sign documents. A phone also delivers contextual information about a consumer, such as their location, which can initiate highly relevant and interactive dialogues at key moments. In this way, the mobile device can become the portal to the other channels – a trusted and familiar key to an omnichannel banking relationship.
True omnichannel means more than just many ways
Today, banks are starting to realise that a true omnichannel approach to banking means more than just providing multiple ways for customers to transact. It’s about a thoughtfully designed, seamless and consistent interaction between customers and their financial institutions across multiple channels, with each channel complementing the others.
In the financial services industry, we’re still in the early stages of digital transformation. As Millennials and Gen Z consumers start to make up larger portions of the workforce, there will be countless changes in the ways they will want to interact with service providers like banks. To meet all these changing demands, banks will need to think about their omnichannel capabilities, as well as the insights they can gain from their multiple consumer touchpoints, as a competitive advantage. In doing so, they can offer their customers the personalised experiences they have come to expect – no matter the channel
- Financial performance impacted by the pandemic
- Expected credit loss (ECL) charges of £45.8 million recognised on loans and advances to customers
- Profit before tax (PBT) was impacted by the adverse effects of COVID-19 and the subsequent provisions set aside, reducing by 89% to £5.9 million
- Customer deposits rose by 25% to £7.6 billion while capital remained strong with a CET1 ratio of 12.3%
- A total of 15.9k payment holidays granted across the Group
- The specialist bank continued to operate effectively through COVID-19
- 98% of employees moved to remote working within days and no staff furloughed
- Successfully achieved accreditation under UK Government’s CBILS
- Continued investment in technology to digitalise the business
- Shawbrook “cautiously optimistic” as momentum begins to return to certain specialist sectors
Shawbrook Bank has today (Monday 10 August 2020) published its half year financial results for the period ending 30 June 2020.
The specialist bank confirmed it had set aside £45.8 million of provisions to provide for potential future loan impairments caused by COVID-19. The bank reported it had also granted a total of 15.9k payment holidays to support its customers through the pandemic, of which 10.8k remained in force at 30 July 2020.
As a result of such provisions, the bank’s profitability was impacted with a reduction in PBT by 89% to £5.9 million.
Despite the challenging market conditions, the bank retained its active position in the UK savings market, increasing its retail savings deposit base by 25% to £7.6 billion. During the period, Shawbrook also successfully completed a £75 million Tier 2 re-financing to further optimise its capital structure.
Ian Cowie, Shawbrook Bank’s Chief Executive Officer, said that COVID-19 has had a clear impact on the bank’s financial performance, but Shawbrook remained in a position of strength.
He commented: “Prior to COVID-19, the Group had continued to make good financial progress, starting 2020 with a strong balance sheet and prudently positioned capital and liquidity base.
“To further optimise the Group’s capital structure, during H1 2020 we initiated a Tier 2 refinancing and, despite the challenging market conditions, successfully completed the £75 million issuance in July.
“We have also maintained our active position in the UK savings market. However, the longer-term economic impacts of the pandemic remain hard to predict and as a result we have recognised expected credit loss charges in the period on loans and advances to customers of £45.8 million and on loan commitments of £1.5 million.
“While this has clearly had an impact on profitability, our capital strength positions us well to support our customers and grow our business in line with appetite as we enter the second half of the year.”
Throughout COVID-19, Shawbrook maintained full operational functionality, with no staff furloughed and 98% of employees transferred to remote working within days of the UK lockdown being announced.
The bank adopted a series of concession opportunities across its product range to help alleviate the financial impacts of COVID-19 on its customers. During this time, Shawbrook also successfully achieved accreditation to the UK Government’s Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) to provide further funding support to its SME clients.
Mr Cowie added: “Since the outbreak of COVID-19, our focus has remained on supporting our staff, customers and partners while at the same time safeguarding the long-term sustainability of our business.
“When the UK lockdown was announced in March 2020, we acted with speed and agility, moving to an almost entirely remote operation within days. Led by a stable and experienced management team and with the support of new and existing technology, we have continued to operate effectively throughout this period.”
Throughout the first half of the year, the bank also continued to identify investment opportunities to further digitalise its proposition, with a core focus on its SME offering.
Mr. Cowie added: “Notwithstanding the pandemic, we have continued to invest in our business to help drive our strategic ambition to become the UK’s Specialist SME Lender of Choice. As well as the ongoing deployment of targeted digital solutions across the Property, Consumer lending and Savings businesses, our investment in the development of a new growth platform in our Business Finance franchise will serve to further modernise our offering, delivering an enhanced customer journey as well as significant operational efficiencies.”
Looking to the future he continued: “Although significant uncertainties regarding the broader macroeconomic impact and pace of recovery remain, we are cautiously optimistic in our outlook as we start to see signs of momentum returning to certain of our specialist sectors.
“Our management expertise and prudent approach to credit decisioning, combined with investment in our digital propositions, means we are well positioned to adapt and respond to opportunities as they arise throughout the second half of the year.”
Better banking—everyday in everyway
By Bruno Pešec president at Pesec Global.
Some of the most innovative companies are also great at continuous and incremental improvement. I want to talk about three key points when it comes to succeeding with implementation of continuous improvement.
First is acknowledging that employee empowerment is at the heart of continuous improvement. The second is striving for total involvement by everybody, everywhere, everyday. Final, third point is that improvement is improvement. Cents turn into dollars.
Let’s expand on each.
Employee empowerment is at the heart of continuous improvement
In “Kaizen: The Key To Japan’s Competitive Success” Masaaki Imai divulges following as the core principles of continuous improvement:
- Process orientation. “Before results can be improved, processes must be improved, as opposed to result-orientation where outcomes are all that counts.”
- Improving and maintaining standards. “Lasting improvements can only be achieved if innovations are combined with an ongoing effort to maintain and improve standard performance levels.”
- People orientation. “Improvement is people-oriented and should involve everyone in the organization from top management to workers at the shop floor. Further more, it is based on a belief in people’s inherent desire for quality and worth, and management has to believe that it is going to “pay” in the long run.”
These principles are interlinked and interdependent. Without empowered people there can be no improvement. Micromanaging and overbearing bureaucracy stifle human creativity and desire to do better.
Due to the nature of my work I have residence in two countries, Croatia and Norway. Consequently, I have bank accounts in both as well. On one occasion I was had to make a bank transfer while in Croatia, and went to my local bank office to do so.
To my surprise they requested my debit card. I explained that I’ve forgotten it, but surely that shouldn’t be a problem as I’m here in person, have my national ID as well as passport, and cash required for transfer. The bank teller explained that he can ask branch manager to approve it, but it takes seven days.
Since the manager was right there, I asked why can’t we do it right now, since we are all here. “Sorry, such are the policy and procedures. I know it doesn’t make sense, but we must follow them.”
Banking is a highly regulated industry; fraud detection and anti-money laundering processes must be impeccable; but above is neither.
Everybody, everywhere, everyday
Bottom up is usually brought up when discussing implementations of continuous improvement. While it is true that those closest to work are most suitable to improve it, they often lack decision making power and budget to do so on a scale.
That’s why “everybody, everywhere, everyday” is a better mental model. No one is absolved of improvements. At any given moment there are at least hundred things you can improve right now, right here.
Think deeply about following:
- Everybody in the organisation should be aware and have an understanding of organization’s strategy and objectives. There’s shouldn’t be multiple interpretations, and it should be unambiguous. Without clarity improvement efforts are going to be scattered and without impact.
- No elitism, no absolution. Everybody should be actively committed to daily improvement, regardless of their rank or seniority. Leaders should be especially cognizant of leading by example. After all, how can they demand from others what they themselves are not doing. That’s hypocrisy at its finest.
- To improve is to learn, and to learn is to improve. Unlock even more value from your continuous improvement efforts by capturing the learning and sharing it broadly and deeply within the organisation. Ideas spawn ideas, perpetuating a virtuous cycle. Peer learning is also a powerful intrinsic driver.
Improvement is improvement
Director of one European bank invited me to their customer service centre, and we were to discuss how could they innovate better. After the meeting I asked him to take me on the walk around the office so I can observe the processes. He was more than happy to oblige.
The walls were plastered with wallpapers and dashboard, colourful metrics were displayed one the hanging screens, and there was a special area dedicated to the “Hall of fame.” Much to my delight there was a wall dedicated to the improvement ideas.
It was covered with large sticky notes, each with few sentences about the problem and potential solution. I picked a few at random, and noticed that they have dates written in bottom left corner. All of the dates were months ago.
Perplexed, I asked the nearby call operator to illuminate me. What’s going on? She fired her response like she was just waiting for someone to ask her that question:
“After each call we used to write down some improvement ideas. At the end of the week we collated and submitted them to the improvement department. They were constantly rejecting our proposals for either being too small or not innovative enough. After few weeks we stopped sharing and tried to implement what we can. That resulted in one of us being scolded for taking initiative without approval, so we just stopped altogether.”
Director was blushing, but hasn’t said anything. I thanked the operator for her honesty, and told the director that he should find time to fix this. By ignoring small, incremental improvements, they are effectively atrophying their organisational muscles. And not to mention all the savings that are left behind, lost forever. Cents turn into dollars.
I’ve talked about three key points in regards to the role of employee empowerment in the implementation of continuous improvement, and what you can do to use them well. Let me remind you that if you really want to engage in this, the first thing to do is take any of them and start today.
UBX appoints new Chief Investment Officer
In line with its strategy to explore and invest in companies and platforms of the future, UBX—the Fintech and Corporate Venture Capital arm of Union Bank of the Philippines (UnionBank) — is announcing the appointment of Matthew Kolling as the company’s Chief Investment Officer (CIO).
As CIO, Kolling will be managing UBX’s Corporate Venture Capital (CVC) fund. He will also play a key role in raising capital for UBX while assisting the company in key corporate transactions, including the structuring of joint ventures and acquisitions.
Prior to his appointment at UBX, Kolling has been Head of Venture Investments at Aboitiz & Company since 2019, wherein he had been working with UBX on investment portfolio decisions. Before that, he held senior positions in Private Equity, Venture Capital, and Investment Banking at firms such as Providence Equity Partners and Morgan Stanley in New York.
Kolling has more than 20 years of experience in managing investments and deals in the Technology and Telecommunications industries and is active in Venture Capital and startup communities in the Philippines and the Southeast Asian region. He currently chairs the Manila Angel Investors Network, among others.
“We at UBX are excited to welcome Matt as our new CIO. We firmly believe that Matt will be instrumental in driving value creation opportunities, both within the CVC fund and our corporate ventures. We look forward to working with him as we fulfill UBX’s vision of a future where banking services are embedded into everyday experiences that matter,” said UBX president and CEO John Januszczak.
Meanwhile, UnionBank president and CEO Edwin Bautista said, “The addition of world-class talents in our pool reinforces our strategy to future-proof the organization and our business as we prepare for many new opportunities that come with the changing times.”
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