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Retail Banking: the Importance of Being Proactive

Proactivity in digital banking has been acknowledged as important by a number of respected organisations. Efma and Accenture announced the winners of their fifth annual Distribution & Marketing Innovation Awards in October  granting an award for a tip-based solution as one of the best innovations in retail banking. The 2017 Banking Technology Awards also shortlisted candidates competing for the Best Mobile Initiative by including scoring on their  approach to personalized in-app assistance. But is this acknowledgement just a recent phenomenon?

Back in 2014, PwC and EY published a couple of research papers on retail banking and started to talk about easy account switching and the importance of customer centricity to secure long term banking relationships. Furthermore, providing effective advice was considered a key driver of customer satisfaction, trust and advocacy while a particular focus was put on remote counseling. As of today, with the increasing growth of technological development and the open banking reform currently underway, customers are increasingly expecting a personalised approach from their banks and looking for remote  advice as never before. The recent McKinsey 2017 research shows that about 35% of European bank customers on average would like to receive remote advice.

Within a few years European banks have made some steps towards providing remote advisory services. 2017 is highlighted by the development of video support or standardised on-line services, in addition, robo-advisory for wealth management is increasingly the focal point. However,  there remains much scope for further digital development. So far, while providing mainly standard services for standard customers, increasingly banks are  looking for breakthrough technologies which combine customer experience and artificial intelligence tools in order to avoid becoming commodities.

 To stand out in an open banking world a bank may need to make a strategic move away from being a reactive utilitarian tool, to becoming a proactive personal financial assistant: to unleash the power of the data a bank already has or which it can get; to become a provider that understands a customer's financial situation better than anyone else; and to support a customer predictively and proactively by helping solve everyday tasks related to their finances. And those banks that have started making this journey are already seeing enhanced  performance and public recognition.



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