As a manufacturer in the broad space that is “Fintech,” we are privileged to attend trade shows where the biggest, most well-known financial institutions are present. Many of these events feature key speakers from these major FI’s leading sessions about various hot topics in the banking industry. It’s fascinating to hear them lay out their high level plans for addressing branch transformation, mobile payments, and increasing foot traffic in their retail locations.
What may be surprising to those outside of the industry is there is no consensus on any one strategy. There are a bunch of really smart people from all these organizations sitting in rooms and coming up with vastly different ideas. It’s incredible and inspiring at the same time. There is no cookie-cutter solution.
Here are a few topics and summary of what we’ve heard (without the credit to protect the privacy):
- Branch Transformation: A leader with a Top 100 FI located in the Midwest recently said they are lean in their staff and don’t have a lot of people to waste. They are looking at “floating” staff members who would travel between branches rather than being tied to a single location. Another FI said they were going to look at more kiosk-type solutions to enable self-service, which is the complete opposite of another. During a visit to our booth, one said, “We know people aren’t visiting branches as much, but when they do, we believe they want to see a live person.”
- Millennials: An executive within a Top 20 FI recently said they view this age group as an opportunity. While not the wealthiest demographic, they’re importance in retail banking cannot be overstated. They demand an interaction with a bank vastly different than their parents or grandparents. It’s not wrong, it’s just different. And Banks need to recognize this difference and adapt or they risk alienating a bunch of people.
- Mobile Banking: Many have said the key is mobile banking is a piece of the overall omni-channel strategy. An industry leading publication editor recently published the results of a banking survey where bankers reported the cost of a transaction via a mobile site was just a small fraction of the cost of an in-person transaction. Despite the profit margin available, FI’s cannot push this as the only channel. As one executive put it, customers are going to interact with your FI in the manner of their choosing. You just have to make yourself available to them in multiple ways.
While we’re not breaking ground saying every FI is different and there is no magic formula in the financial industry, it is interesting to hear the various perspectives around the country.