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Digital Banks have a completely different culture to Physical Banks

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Another day, another challenge.

Again, it’s to do with the move from the physical distribution of paper to the digital distribution of data (my favourite mantra of the moment) and the way in which things change.

Think of it this way, I’m talking to a company about relationship management.

Their view: it all comes down to a trusted advisor and that person is your human connection in the branch.

Very true.

That relationship is where the trust lies, not with the bank or the industry or the brand, but with the human or humans you deal with in the branch.

Yes, absolutely.

When we talk about rebuilding trust in banking, the trust was lost in the industry, the bank and its brand, but not with the human you relate to in the bank: your personal account manager. 

I totally agree.

That human is where banks are not faceless, they are not robots or machines, but human like you.


And that human needs to meet with you on a regular basis to fleece your pockets.


Sorry, that human needs to give you an annual and regular wealth check to make sure you are maximising your assets.

Ah, ok.  On this point, we have the issue.


Well, I totally agree that you need to be human.


But I think that human relationship now morphs into a digital form.


OK, you have a meeting with the relationship manager the first time you engage the bank.


They become your point person that you trust because you’ve looked into the whites of their eyes.


But that trust is now reinforced through a remote relationship thereon in, where the first physical contact point becomes your first digital contact point via telephone, email, Facebook, Skype, Facetime or whatever.

Oh, I like it.

So imagine downstream that my human advisor, let’s call her Amy, becomes my Mayday style bank advisor.

Wow, yes, I really like it.

And so now our relationship, like most these days, is opened physically but sealed digitally through regular contact.

Keep talking.

We no longer need the physical contact, because I trust Amy and her advice and can pretty much talk to her or one of her team, 24 by 7.

And …?

And so the most important person in my relationship team is now my account opener, my first point of physical contact, the person in the bank who acquired me as a client.


And so the most important person in a bank operation is now a hunter of new customer’s, not a farmer of existing ones.


You see, the physical bank structure created a culture where the farmers were the most important people in the bank, the client advisor who goes out as a road warrior visiting customers in their offices and creating relationships.

Don’t tell me anymore.

But the digital bank structure needs a culture where the hunters gather and acquire clients through trust, and then seal that trust through a non-stop digital stream of trusted advice.

No, no more.

Even more telling is that this means you can dedicate far more focus upon hunting, because the farming is now automated.

I don’t want to hear this.

In other words, the digitally trusted advisor focuses one person upon account openings for every ten you have who are out on the road sealing physical relationships.

I really don’t want to hear that.

You are set up for physical relationships with high cost people spending time travelling to customers, when what you need is to be set up for digital relationships with high cost people spending time in the office acquiring and digitally advising customers.

Please stop.

OK, enough said.



I didn’t have the heart to tell them Amy and her hunters would also be based totally online and that the account opening would take place digitally too, but it’s pretty obvious that it’s there too.



Chris Skinner Author Avatar

Chris M Skinner

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