The move to digital has dominated the conversation about commercial banking in recent years. That conversation is far from over, but as we reveal in Accenture’s new report, Commercial Banking Top Trends in 2022, banks are beginning to realize that reaping the benefits of their digital technology investments will depend on meaningful connections with people: the people working at their bank and the customers they serve.  

Digitalizing your systems and processes is certainly necessary, but it is not enough. Commercial banking is still a relationship-based business, and customers relate to people, not algorithms. The struggle to balance technology with humanity is playing out across many industries—from healthcare to retail—and in commercial banking, striking that balance will be increasingly important for the rest of this decade. Just as importantly, bringing your digital agenda together with your people agenda has the power to change the paradigm for banks. Commercial banking can become a tech-forward, agile industry that attracts and grows great talent and is ready to take on and own the fintech agenda. 

Get the right people on your team and empower them 

The digital transformation of commercial banks started as an inward-facing trend, addressing efficiencies in various processes and functions. So, too, will banks benefit from looking internally at a people-oriented transformation.  

Attracting the best talent to manage their new digital tools has banks competing for employees against fintechs, big tech and other attractive industries. The biggest share of the workforce is currently millennials, and this will remain the case at least until 2030. Gen Z will make up an increasing share. Attracting these workers to commercial banking will require a change in culture that values innovation, flexible work arrangements and environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiatives. Banks that encapsulate digital and fintech in their DNA will be more attractive to top talent. 

These employees will not just be working on the bank’s digital tools; they will permeate every function and will want to have the latest technology at their disposal to make their jobs more efficient.  

Current employees, on the other hand, may be less confident working with the increase in data and analytics and the digital interfaces that new banking systems provide. But upskilling these long-standing employees is crucial for banks to get the ROI they want from their investment in AI and other digital technology. 

Help your RMs bring your data to life 

Our trends report also identifies relationship managers (RMs) as a key piece of the puzzle in pairing people with technology. They are the face of the bank to many commercial customers. The latest customer relationship management (CRM) tools are providing RMs with a huge amount of valuable data, but they also need the tools to turn that data into  customer advice that they have at their fingertips. 

More than 60% of SMEs value their RM’s understanding of their business and their personal relationship with them.
-Accenture research, Bank of the Profitable SME Base 

Analytics insights derived from a particular customer’s banking and other activities can lead to more sales by showing RMs the best opportunities for that customer at that moment. Rather than replacing the human connection between the bank and its customers, technology should supercharge that connection with added value. Banks that bring their data to life by putting these insights directly into their CRM tool and other applications that RMs use regularly will empower those RMs to do more cross-selling and offer more personalized service to clients. This type of data-driven support will also help banks attract the next generation of RMs by making them feel they are being set up for success in a modern, digital workplace. 

A leading commercial bank in Asia aimed to expand its lending business for SMEs and increase cross-sales. It developed machine learning models to capture signals (such as search criteria and business performance indicators) from both internal and external data sources. It set up Accenture Applied Intelligence Platform infrastructure to power its data analysis. A pilot test generated more than 4 million leads for both existing customers and new prospects. The bank identified 40% more cross-sell opportunities and had a 46% increase in loan applications.

Use technology to enhance customer connection 

Digital technology has a large role to play for commercial banks that want to form a strong connection with customers. As these customers get more used to running their businesses using various apps and platforms, banks need to keep up and be in the same places their customers are. In many cases, banks are taking on the characteristics of a tech company to accomplish this. The energetic approach to innovation and speed to market that tech is famous for can also create a new culture in commercial banks. 

Customers Bank has reshaped itself into a high-tech, high-touch bank that’s expanding its hybrid model of banking and financial technology nationally. It invests in cutting-edge technology and has launched Customers Bank Instant Token (CBIT) for instant business-to-business blockchain payments.
– Accenture Commercial Banking Top Trends in 2022 

Many banks will use embedded finance to get to those customer connection points. For example, embedding commercial banking services into e-commerce or app-based service models that currently cater to business owners will give them real-time access to funds—in addition to true value-added services such as cashflow lending and integration with expense management and accounting platforms—all in one place. This kind of seamless integration will keep customers connected to the bank and fight the perception that using a traditional business account is not worthwhile. 

In essence, embedded finance places banking products in the day-to-day flow of life and work so customers can get the banking services they need, when they need them, on the platforms they’re already using. 

Goldman Sachs has released cloud-based software that allows business clients to embed banking services into their own products, opening a new front for ecosystem partnerships. The aim is to disrupt the $32 billion global cash management industry. Developers can use Goldman’s public APIs to integrate payments in their companies’ services.
– Accenture Banking Technology Vision 2021 

There is also a place for banks’ own portals in the experience mix, but these need to improve and provide the kind of user experience customers enjoy in other areas, or they will seek out more advanced options from fintechs or competitor banks. Some of the key expectations include biometric identification and digital signatures as well as greater personalization, such as customized alerts and tailored insights. Customers want to be able to accomplish their banking quickly with simple interactions using intuitive interfaces.  

More sophisticated portals also generate better data for banks, which gives them even better insights into customer needs and preferences. This, in turn, can help them improve processes, introduce new revenue streams and increase customer satisfaction. 

When sophisticated technology is paired with engaged, skilled and empowered talent, it results in more satisfied customers and a more competitive bank. The banks that strike the right balance are going to reap the benefits.  

To learn more about the latest trends influencing commercial banking, read the full report, Commercial Banking Top Trends in 2022.
Read report


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