I often think making exact predictions on what will happen in a year’s time is a fool’s game. What can be a useful exercise though is to look at the trends of 2014 and see where these might be headed. For the UK retail banking sector in particular there
have been some significant movements over the past year, which look to shape an interesting 2015 – here are my three thoughts on the big trends of 2014, and what they could mean in 2015:
Competitive account switching – The issue of inertia in the retail banking has culminated in 2014, with the Competition and Market Authority deciding to launch a two year investigation into competition in this space. 2015 is likely to be
a year of change at many of the larger banks – partly in response to this, but also partly because many of the big banks have already started taking steps to differentiate their services and offerings. As these initiatives grow and mature (such as Lloyd’s
digital banking initiative which will see many physical stores changed or closed) customers will be able to start viewing their choice of bank as an important decision once more, rather than just a (somewhat compulsory) box to be ticked.
Big Data was a hot topic at SIBOS this year, which is a strong indicator the issue is now being seriously examined by the major players. One of the strongest under-utilised assets a bank has is its customer data, especially around things
such as spending trends. The exact logistics of how this data could be mined and used is still under debate, however we might start seeing the first signs of personalised communications and marketing from banks utilising these data sources in 2015.
The private banks move in – Private banks have long been quite silent players in the banking market. However these institutions too are not immune to movements in the market, and many are now looking at the retail banking space as part of
a switch in their customer acquisition strategies. These prestigious institutions may choose 2015 to start offering current accounts and loans to the average customer (at cost or even at a loss) with a view that some will prosper and require their more profitable
wealth management services.
If there’s one big winner from the three above trends that I can see, it’s the customer. Traditional banks are coming to focus on the customer journey and producing options and offerings that touch the customer more than just once a month when a statement
is generated. Similarly, customers will be largely impacted if any of the major private banks begin to enter the retail space, as these players will surely come well equipped and well-funded, and will have an immediate impact on an otherwise very slow paced