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Banks and corporates live in the twentieth century

I was surprised or not to have a long discussion with some bankers and corporates about personalisation last night.

My contention was that a bank should know that they have an influential corporate treasurer decision maker as a business client, and be able to use that knowledge to deliver better service to that individual as a personal client.

Not just that individual, but their family and extended connections.

The bank was shocked by this idea, claiming that it was some form of bribery.

Complete baloney of course, as I was just advocating better client data mining and data usage.

After all, most banks find it difficult enough to make the connection between me and my partner, let alone me and my company, and we are a small company.

You would think:

(a) that the firm could make the connections between me and my CFO, COO, etc;

(b) they would see how our wider network affects our financial habits; and

(c) personalise far more of our retail offers to reflect our corporate activities.

What I am really getting at is the use of big data again.

It stuns me that in today’s world, if I were the corporate treasurer for MegaGlobal Corp (MGC) and my major bank relationship was with ABC Bank, that ABC Bank has no idea when Chris walks into their retail branch that I am a client of that bank.

The retail experiential impacts of every day touch for me and my family could colour my whole view of ABC Bank in my dealings with them as treasurer of MGC.

Surely, in today’s world of big data leverage and analytics, this is a mere hygiene factor.

And yet, the bank turns to me and claims it’s potentially unlawful to be influenced in dealings with the individual through their dealings as a corporate.


We then got into a further debate about what stops this, and most of it si down to silo’s.

The bank is segregated between commercial and retail banking and never the twain shall meet or share data.

That Chinese Wall is not a reflection of compliance but more business interests and objectives of the heads of business in the bank.

So be it … the silo debate is one that I’ve explored regularly on this blog.

But what surprised even more is that, as we talked about this silo view of the world within the bank, the corporates said that their silo view was the same, fi not worse.

Corporate treasurers have no single view of the world, but many and multiple views of the world based upon what each division and country is willing to share.

That’s why there is no payments factory as such, but lots of payments factories.

Each country, line of business and operation within the corporate may be running their own little system today for cash pooling and netting, liquidity forecasting, payables and receivables.

This seems archaic as I’ve been talking about single global payment platforms for ages too, but the corporates in the room say that their challenge has been persuading just a few divisions to consolidate towards payment factory platforms, let alone a global platform.

In fact, most corporates in the room last night were honest enough to admit that they have just embarked on the long road towards a payments factory.


Here’s me in the big data, social economy of 2012 and the largest banks and corporates  in the world are still just thinking about it.

What it says to me is that banks and corporates are losing billions due to commercial, capital and liquidity inefficiencies caused by their irresponsible and stupid internal political battles.

Ah well, nothing changes there then.

But here's the alternative view: if a bank or corporate overcomes the politics and starts thinking like an Amazon, Google, Apple or Facebook – in other words, really understand how to leverage data as an asset, regardless of the silo's – then they have the opportunity to blow their industry to pieces.


About Chris M Skinner

Chris M Skinner
Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, TheFinanser.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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