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One banker knows his industry is trashed, and here’s his plan

often present around the depressed state of the banking markets.

it’s a political and economic overview of the banking system that shows the
issues of regulatory change, customer trust and systemic risk.

So I
was surprised and amused when a senior vice president of retail banking for one
of Europe’s largest banks gave a similar presentation.

went something like this …

Good morning ladies and gentlemen, and
thank you for giving me the time to talk with you this morning.

As you all know, life has changed a lot in
the last four years and being a banker is no longer a good place to be.

Many people are against the banking system,
no more so than the customer.

In fact, we are challenged in all ways.

Screen Shot 2012-10-09 at 10.08.52

The regulators want more information, more
transparency, more capital reserves, more control and more protection for the customer,
which leads us all to see less profit and less bonuses.

We have modernised and refurbished branches
that are beautiful … 


… except that no one goes there anymore.  They are empty because no one needs to visit a branch anymore.

Then we make it worse as we no longer see our customers in the branch, and then we completely lose the trust of our customers by trashing our relationship.

Screen Shot 2012-10-09 at 10.15.46

The bottom-line is that nothing is certain anymore.

The only thing we know for sure is that we have to change.


this point, I was with him all the way. 
His points were made clearly and succinctly, with honesty and from the

it all went wrong.

So here is our bank’s strategy to address
these issues.

We are going to do several things.

First, we are going to be different by focusing on advisory services.

just said you lost my trust, so why would I trust you to give me advice?

We will focus upon our branch network to
deliver advisory services.

just said the branches are empty, so why would I come into your branch for

We will create a business that is wholly
grounded on a customer centric sales culture.

‘customer centric sales culture’?

The fact is that the ‘sales culture’ is what
caused PPI mis-selling, SWAPS mis-selling and much of the muppet based City

Screen Shot 2012-10-09 at 10.23.30

So ‘a customer centric culture’
does not fit with the word ‘sales’, even though that’s what’s needed if you’re
running a business. 

And, bearing in mind
that your strategy is based upon being an advisor, what you really need to be
is a ‘trusted advisor’. 

I recently wrote a paper
about this for FImetrix, and it is clear that a trusted advisor thinks of my needs first, not selling me

In fact, a real trusted advisor focuses upon the long-term
relationship and would avoid a short-term sale if it jeopardised the long-term

So what you really need is
a ‘customer centric advisory culture’,  NOT a ‘customer centric sales

We will focus upon sustainable customer


banker then concluded his presentation with the principles they will use to
restore trust.

We want to restore trust and to create
fans, not customers, so we will create a bank that has a client centric
orientation and values that are in synch with society.

in all, a sobering presentation of the state of our industry and one that had
lots of good content apart from that jarring piece about a ‘customer centric
sales culture’.

just lost in translation somewhere.


Images sourced from: Everest, East London Lines and All Voices.


The is part one of a five-part series:

About Chris M Skinner

Chris M Skinner
Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, the Finanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal’s Financial News. To learn more click here...

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One comment

  1. What a load of old tosh (the original article), for all the reasons above. The solution – in my humble opinion – is similar to the overlaying article – go back to what customers want… & build from there. It is a classic Marketing case study.
    For me, I would start with the humble Bank Manager – the guy/girl who used to be the pillar of society… but who has been replaced by a spotty nosed kid & a computer that likes to say no. I would take the B&Q model, & employ retired professionals – people who are confident talking to customers, who command trust, and who can use years of experience to really help customers… & the good ones will use this to subtly cross-sell their services. To do this, they would need to be empowered – the computer becomes a reference tool – not a governance vehicle.
    But unlike the past, the new Bank Manager would take on the persona of “Captain Peacock” – he/she would stand on the customer side of the till, and genuinly welcome people in to the branch. He/she would go out into the community – schools, business parks, local WIs & even do home vists.
    They would still be targeted on revenue & (especially) profitability… but on the notion that sales come through relationship building – not through hard/cold sales.
    I have other thoughts too… but this is where it needs to start.

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