As personal banking experiences continue to drive up the expectations of small- and medium-sized (SME) banking customers, many questions are arising for banks in this marketplace. Some of the most pressing are around the technology, tools and data needed across the front, middle and back office to help relationship managers (RMs) meet SMEs’ rising expectations.

These are business-critical decisions. Pick the right tools underpinned by the right data, and you’ll enable your RMs to work more efficiently and free up more of their time for growth-enabling activities. Make the wrong calls, and your RMs may be hamstrung by inappropriate technology—undermining your position in the marketplace.

Balancing conflicting priorities

As banks approach these choices, what factors are at play? Across the industry, automation and analytics are transforming service delivery and enabling new offerings. As this wave of digital innovation reaches commercial banks, the sector’s leaders are looking to harness it to re-energise their growth.

Pick the right tools underpinned by the right data, and you’ll enable your RMs to work more efficiently and free up more of their time for growth-enabling activities.

But even for greenfield banks built to be digital from the ground up, online banking has its limits—especially with SMEs. While they love the convenience of digital services, SMEs also crave a ‘human touch’ at moments that matter, according to our latest UK SME Banking Survey.

So, what tools can help strike the right balance between human and digital? What’s the role of technologies like automation, cloud and artificial intelligence (AI)? And where will they generate the biggest benefits? What part will partnerships with external vendors play in building a digital ecosystem?

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To answer these questions and many more, Stephen Pegge from UK Finance talks to nCino managing director Pullen Daniel and banking technology managing director Kamran Ikram, my colleague Accenture.

Together they investigate—among other things—the trade-offs between cost reduction and customer experience, the potential of AI to emulate human banking interactions and the changes in operating models needed to take full advantage of digital.

The RM’s future role: Still essential—but evolving

For commercial banks, the ultimate goal is to optimise RM:machine collaboration. As our debate underlines, this will require RMs to adopt a new role and different skill sets. With AI taking up more of the routine decision-making, RMs’ ability to do the things humans do best—talk to customers, help SMEs navigate the complexity of large incumbent commercial banks, explain AI models, understand ethical nuances—may become more important, not less. So, whatever happens with technology in SME banking, it’ll still have people at its core.

To experience the full scope of the discussion, listen here.

 

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