Chris Skinner, who has established a global reputation as a banking provocateur, is in good form with his new book, “The Future of Banking in a Globalised World.” (John Wiley & Sons, 196 pages, £34.99) In it, he points out many of the more obvious problems in retail banking – such as a focus on cost-cutting rather than revenue growth, and the dispiriting habits bankers have of all taking the same path while claiming they will grow faster than the market. Oops, that would require taking customers away from the competition, but why would customers bother to leave if most banks offer pretty much the same range of products and a similar lack of services? Banks are holding onto their customers because the customers just don’t care enough to move, or they don’t see any attractive alternative.
Meanwhile bankers are focused on technology like customer relationship management (CRM) systems that reinforces customers’ arms-length distance from the branch, when it isn’t actively screwing up operations and making customers angry. Skinner points out that banks are losing their relationships with customers.
Although he often takes BAI attendees from Europe
Although bankers are pretty complacent, he thinks imaginative use of new technology, especially video but also PayPal, mobile phone payments and biometrics for better security will transform the business and leave the tech laggards in the dust. Will those laggards be banks? Will the winners be telcoms or supermarkets like Tesco?
And he tells some of his own stories of frustration with banks that don’t have decision makers on over bank holidays, when clients need cash, or don’t provide an international number for travel insurance clients. Most banks still clearly keep banker hours. Even if the hours are somewhat longer than 20 years ago, the mentality is a far cry from 24 x 7.
This is a fast-paced provocative book by an industry expert who has observed closely from the outside and has no vested interests to protect.