Accenture Banking Blog

Accenture’s ground-breaking 2019 Global Financial Services Consumer Study has seen four mindsets emerge from the data: Pioneers, Sceptics, Traditionalists and Pragmatists. In this series of blog posts, we’ll look at each type in the Australian context.¹

The global view

Read the report

As the name suggests, Traditionalists are far more interested in old-school ways of dealing with financial services firms. Broadly speaking, that means this group of largely older consumers (two-thirds are aged over 55) value personal contact.

They’re also far less keen on technology: Newness is not a positive aspect for them, and 78 percent never use a mobile app or mobile browser to interact with their bank, instead opting for other tried-and-true channels such as branches and logging into the bank website from a computer.

And, worryingly for financial services (FS) firms, although Traditionalists prefer the human touch, only half say their providers have polite and knowledgeable staff, suggesting there is a disconnect between the amount of investment being spent across the industry on improving customer experience and the service provided. This also likely goes some way to explaining why so many Traditionalists say their trust in FS providers has declined in the past year.

So, how does this group fare in the Australian context?

The local view

Traditionalists comprise a much larger segment of the Australian market than elsewhere in the region: 32 percent versus 21 percent globally. In that way, Australia is similar to markets in Europe and North America. In the Asia-Pacific region, on the other hand, Australia is an outlier (along with Japan, where 44 percent of respondents fall into this category).

Traditionalists’ views, and their weighting in the Australian market, have important consequences for FS firms. For a start, Traditionalists prefer to maintain the status quo—the familiarity of their current way of dealing with banks and its perceived simplicity is fuelling their resistance to emerging technological novelties.

Recreating reassurance

Getting past that resistance is no simple task, but it is a necessary one in the context of diminishing branch networks (the number of branches in Australia has shrunk from nearly 7,100 in 1993 to about 5,600 today).2 Many Australians still feel reassured by their branch interactions: 62 percent report having a positive experience when they visit a branch (versus 57 percent globally and 72 percent in the US). Moving forward, it is important to recreate the same level of confidence in alternative channels and offerings; until that happens, Traditionalists will be hard to sway.

Traditionalists prefer to maintain the status quo—the familiarity of their current way of dealing with the banks and its perceived simplicity is fuelling their resistance to emerging technological novelties.

One solution some have turned to is video calls, as a way to promote the human connection via a more cost-effective approach. Would Traditionalists be willing to consider that? Quite possibly; it certainly seems likely to appeal more than pure self-service options. Australians, after all, stand out in the Asia-Pacific region as having a strong desire for face-to-face interaction and video chat is a way to offer this from the comfort of one’s home. Also, Traditionalists aren’t technophobes: they are accepting of new technologies—it’s just that those advances need to be proven. And so, while few Traditionalists have started mobile banking regularly, many are already likely familiar with video-call solutions, such as FaceTime, to talk with friends and family.

This suggests that offering select services through video calls is an appealing way forward, building trust with Traditionalists by offering human advice and convenience in tandem with new technology. This approach could also encourage Traditionalists to experiment with other digital services, gradually becoming more confident in alternative ways of engaging with their bank.

1 You can learn more about this in episode 14 of our podcast series on Embracing Tech in Financial Services: How Well Do You Really Understand Your Consumer?
2 Bold to bet against branches” 6/12/2019