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Bank of the Future: Client Expectations Review

Mobile banking users reached 900 million in 2015. This trend is set to evolve exponentially, as experts predict that up to a quarter of the world’s population will rely on mobile banking by 2025.

Since 2014, more than 50% of the banking interactions in France have been conducted via digital means. Mobile is now the first method of interaction between banks and their customers.

The main reasons for the use of mobile banking can be summarized in few words: anywhere, anytime and easy. On the other hand, major concerns of users are related to safety and confidentiality.

The impressive growth of the mobile channel is also one of the drivers of increased competition, as customers are now able to switch more easily from one bank to another (or to buy products from an institution other than their primary bank). In order to do so, identification of the start-to-end customer experience expectations is the key driver of banks’ profitability in the coming years.

What do clients want?

Sia Partners identified six key areas of concern that banks have to address.

For each topic identified, Sia Partners has developed several case studies of leading organizations in the field.

1.      Available anywhere, anytime

Main issues

In recent years, banks have progressively implemented omni-channel models in which customers are able to get in touch with banks via internet, phone and mobile, as well as in person. However, these different channels are not entirely synchronized (an operation started on one medium cannot always be resumed on another) and some operations must still be performed only through a specific channel, often under serious time constraints. Finally, “generalist” bank advisors are not able to provide a uniform level of service among the wide array of offers they have to deal with. In the end, customer journey can be time-consuming and laborious.

Proposition of improvements 

In order to simplify the life of customers and bank employees, a rationalization of bank offers, on the model of digital banks, is worth evaluating. A general offer, representing the minimum level of service, should be available for each type of client, on all channels. The choice of these universally available services will help banks to position and distinguish themselves from others. Additional services (like “à la carte” offers) would allow banks to serve the specific needs of a clientele ever more eager for customization.

To distribute this renewed offer, the customer journey has to be dramatically improved by diversifying the points of sales and by giving customers the same level of service on all of the channels. In order to reach this objective, branch design will have to go through a major overhaul (improved reception, guided autonomy and digital advisory spaces). Restricted opening hours will have to be further extended to get in touch with an important part of the working population for whom ‘going to the bank’ means ‘taking a day off’ (in the Netherlands some banks are already offering 24/7 opening hours on chat and call).


2.      Mobile

Main issues

As in other sectors, the smartphone is becoming the prime medium for interactions with customers. As an example, 60%+ of interactions between Société Générale and its customers are performed through smartphone.

However, mobile functionalities remain limited (consulting personal accounts, day-to-day management operations, monitoring of requests in progress, branch localization). Some of these operations can be initiated in the mobile channel but require a final step to be performed in a branch, which slows the process and frustrates customers. The ergonomics of mobile apps is often in need of improvement and the use of connected objects is anecdotal. Customer support is only given through a unique channel (call center only). Integration of bank services in new technologies and devices is almost always too limited.

Proposition of improvements 

Very few of the following features are currently implemented: Photo/Video authentication, Biometrics for authentication and payments, enhanced personal finance management, aggregators, subscription to a great majority of the complex products, dedicated video support, customization through alerts and cross-selling, file storage of invoices, interoperability with connected devices (Beacon, Apple Watch), etc…

In order to allow customers to fully use bank functionalities, it will be crucial for banks to seamlessly integrate not some but most of those services.


3.      Customized

Main issues

The development of Big Data has dramatically enhanced the number of data points recorded from the activity of customers’ daily interactions with banks. However, this outstanding capacity remains largely unexploited. Studies shows that less than 20% of the data recorded are structured and used in banks’ decision-making processes. On the other hand, customers now also have access to more information and can more easily compare banks’ offers. As a consequence, many customers have accounts in more than one bank (on average 1.75 bank per person in France in 2014).

Proposition of improvements 

In order to attract new customers and to retain existing ones, banks must communicate more accurately to a number of smaller selected audiences and engage customers by creating and maintaining these dedicated communities.

The enormous amount of data recorded has to be used to create segmentation at the smallest possible granularity. Specific sales and communication methods must be designed based on customers’ historical transactions and key social characteristics.

The creation and animation of communities by experts/enthusiasts through social networks in a collaborative and encouraging environment (such as "CA Store" platform or "SG & You"), as well as further integration of feedback of early adopters (via mobile platforms or internal communication tools) will be decisive for banks to retain customers.


4.      Transparent and Social

Main issues

The image of the banking sector has been severely tarnished by successive economic crises. The role and social utility of banks is often debated by an increasing share of the population. Moreover, while front-office employees are struggling to deal with increasingly informed customers, the cost of banking services remain complex to understand and relatively opaque. Therefore, only half of customers trust their bank.

Proposition of improvements 

Rationalization of the bank’s offers (discussed in 1.) will improve customers’ confidence if they are presented in a simplified offers catalog. For this, the important number of diverse ‘Packages’ are to be substituted by a ‘Charging for/per use’ principle. Trust in financial institutions can also be bolstered by the development of non-banking services integrated into the local economy and an increased involvement in community and environmental issues. Finally, a bank’s added value for customers will be more effectively communicated if the advisory role is specialized by topic (transaction security, financial savings, real estate, professionals,…)


5.      Competitive

Main issues

Following the 2008 financial crisis, world governments and international institutions have promoted a stricter regulation of the financial sector. The mandatory enforcement of those reforms in the coming years will further impact banks costs. On the other hand, banks are facing an ever-increasing competition from new entrants that promote disintermediation of the client’s relationship. Coupled with a fiercely competitive financial services market that is driven by tech companies (GAFA) and ever-growing FinTech startups, banks’ revenues are severely under pressure.

Proposition of improvements 

Banks urgently need to innovate. One example is the integration of new payment methods in their offers or accounts aggregators and personal finance management services, etc. Robot-advisory and predictive investment propositions will also help banks to cut their costs while providing an improved level of service.


6.      Participative

Main issues

Banks are sometimes seen as more reactive than proactive. As such, they have a cold and distant image. Conversely, new players bring serious alternatives to the traditional banking model in an environment where traditional banks limit their exposure due to regulatory constraints.

Proposition of improvements 

Instead of leaving participative financing to new players, banks should embrace the development of emerging platforms such as crowdfunding, P2P banking services and participative corporate credit. By participating in this type of project, banks would invest further in communities and could “humanize” their image.


These trends will shape the demand for financial products over the next five years.

In order to respond to these serious (r)evolutions, financial institutions will have to accelerate the changes initiated and redefine the way they currently operate.

How should banks achieve this transformation to compete in tomorrow’s financial landscape? You will find Sia Partners’ point of view in the next chapter of our series of articles on the bank of the future.


Sia Partners

Copyright © 2016 Sia Partners. Any use of this material without specific permission of Sia Partners is strictly prohibited.

  • Key Takeaways

    • In an increasingly competitive and regulated retail banking market, accurate identification of start-to-end customers experience expectations is the key driver of banks profitability in the coming years


    • Sia Partners highlights six areas that financial institutions need to address.  Bank of the future will have to be Available, Mobile, Customized, Transparent/Social, Competitive and Participative


    • Many propositions of improvements are drawn from case studies of leading organizations in each field 
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