This article was originally published in BAI Banking Strategies on September 15, 2015
As customers migrate to digital channels, bankers need to aggressively re-configure their branch networks in terms of the number and mix of facilities, the staffing provided and the role of the contact center.
Perhaps the single most important threat facing the banking industry is the fundamental change in the way consumers and small businesses use branches. Routine service transactions are being displaced by online and mobile, causing branch transaction activity to decline at a 4% to 5% rate per year on average, with some banks such as SunTrust, experiencing declines of 8.5%. And sales productivity is low: our client benchmark data indicates the average branch opens 20 to 30 new accounts per month, and that translates to only 1 to 1.5 accounts per business day.
The steady change in channel behavior has left many bankers uncertain about how aggressively to respond. In our recent survey of industry leaders, one senior banker said, “There is still a lot of disagreement within the industry and our bank as to how quickly the shift from physical to digital is taking place. That is leading to a hesitation about committing resource investments, which could be a huge stumbling block for the prosperity of the industry longer term.”
Here are some suggestions for revamping your distribution model to evolve with the changing customer trends:
Despite widespread predictions that interest rates would rise, the Fed left them at near zero where they have been for the past seven years. Fed officials predicted that the benchmark rate would rise gradually, reaching 2.6% by the end of 2017. While rates are bound to increase eventually, when they will rise is far from certain. It’s not just the U.S. economy that impacts Fed policy but also unpredictable world events that threaten growth: Ukraine, China, European refugee crisis.
Looking forward to 2016, rates may inch up but they will most likely remain low and margins will be thin. Rising interest rates will improve loan yields – good news for asset sensitive banks. But as the Fed raises rates, banks, money-market funds and other savings vehicles are likely to start offering higher returns, creating competitive pressure on deposit rates and limiting expansion of the net interest margin.
Finding topline revenue growth is the core issue facing the industry, and this begs for new pathways for success. In our recent industry survey one respondent put it succinctly: “What we’re doing now isn’t working anymore. We have to take a different approach.”
What will propel the industry to pre-recession earnings? Financial institutions can improve earnings by using advanced customer analytics to optimize pricing and services.
Analytic tools exist to predict consumer how customers value financial products, and what price they are willing to pay, with a high degree of accuracy. These tools can help identify specific fee, balance and service combinations that customers prefer. A large regional bank used data analytics and market research to successfully restructure checking account pricing, resulting in a net increase of over $100 million in revenue. Similar tools are available to smaller banks, and can have a significant impact on earnings.
Additionally, financial institutions can encourage more profitable customer behaviors – more profitable channel usage, more profitable transaction activity, and greater incentives to encourage consolidation and relationship depth. Whether rates rise or remain flat, these are important strategic initiatives that should be embraced.
Bank-at-Work has proven to be an effective channel to acquire new clients, deepen existing relationships and generate incremental revenue. But fully leveraging the channel requires that bank’s maintain a cohesive structure around their workplace program. Get best practice tips to improve your existing program, or jump-start success for new programs. Get expert advice from Paul Corrigan, perhaps the leading expert in developing, implementing and managing Workplace Banking programs.
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- How Bank-at-Work generates revenue growth and complements branch based sales programs.
- How Bank-at-Work is a group sales model and puts bankers in front of prospects and customers they no longer see in branch
- Define the components that drive incremental revenue and provide growth.
- Understand the dynamics behind best-in-class workplace programs and amount of new business they generate.
- The impact of inadequate program structure; error’s that will impede your workplace initiative.
- Checklist of “Top 10 Tips” to ensure that your Bank-at-Work program is successful
Who Should Attend:
- Community Bank Executives
- Retail Directors
- Sales Managers
- Marketing Managers
- Branch Managers
Learn From the Expert:
Paul Corrigan’s expertise with Workplace Banking includes 18+ years’ experience in program implementation and channel management at Citibank and RBS Citizens
- Paul’s experience includes working with community and regional banks in the U.S., and with international banks in Canada, ,Europe, Latin America, and Europe
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The numbers are clear; Branch usage is declining. Fact is transactions conducted in bank branches is dropping 5-6% per year due to direct deposit, debit, electronic bill pay and other check displacement. For example, with more and more of their customers shifting to digital, JPMChase has seen the blend of deposit transactions move from 90% teller / 10% ATM in 2007 to 42% Teller / 48% ATM / 10% mobile in 2014. A seismic change in just 7 years. The bottom line impact for Chase and everyone else is shrinking branch traffic leaves fewer sales opportunities: New accounts opened per branch FTE have declined 23% since 1997*.
At the same time, traditional media and direct response is becoming less efficient as a means of acquiring and converting prospects. In this environment, Workplace Banking can be a highly effective and efficient acquisition channel by reaching prospective customers at their workplace.
The sales recipe is timely: Workplace Banking puts bankers in front of prospects and customers they no longer see in branch with opportunity to sell, service, advise, and generate incremental revenue. The model elements are simple; marketing to employees where they congregate (at the worksite), where there’s a commonality (they work for the same firm), and where there’s an endorsement (from their employer), that the program is special. The result is a cost efficient sales and servicing model that builds an acquisition annuity stream: As company hires new employees, the bank has opportunity to acquire new customers.
Continuing the theme of efficient, timely and simple, the Workplace Banking channel provides clear benefits for all constituents:
- For companies, offer components such as Financial Education & Financial Planning provide a relevant and tangible way to enhance their employee benefits package with result being increased employee productivity with reduced financial stress. This type of workplace offering also reinforces employee/employer relationship with employees learning how to better manage personal finances with education and planning.
- Employees also receive an improved level of servicing with dedicated banking team to work with right at their worksite. At the same time, Banks get a consistent set tools and practices to drive incremental revenue, strengthen relationships with commercial and small business customers and increase branch productivity.
- For Branch Bankers, Workplace Banking helps them achieve growth goals with increased new account production. Importantly, the workplace sales and service model will also help Bankers transition from ‘transactor’ to ‘advisor’ with enhanced job knowledge and skill development – something every bank is looking to achieve as the branch model continues to evolve.
In the final analysis, Workplace Banking addresses this key industry-wide challenge: Banks need revenue growth, but customers shifting away from branches, the traditional source of acquisition and cross-selling. The time is right for Bank’s to place a renewed emphasis on building-out this important sales and service channel.
Banks are blessed with substantial customer information. One way to use that information to drive sales is to categorize customers into groups with similar product demand. Why do that? To compare the performance of sales people on an apple to apple basis. That type of comparison holds employees accountable and guides the action of sales managers. Let’s look at an example of that.
The financial services industry is facing a host of challenges. Although overall earnings are up, ROE and ROA remains low. Going forward, the industry still has to deal with the headwinds of increased regulatory burden, low interest rates, and changing consumer behavior and channel usage.
These challenges put pressure on financial institutions to develop more focused strategies in order to create sustainable growth.
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