Just like that, another decade has slipped us by. It went like a blur, didn’t it?
So here we are, once again, contemplating what the future will bring. In a commoditized industry like financial services, forecasting the future is no easy task and simply stating “expect more of the same” really isn’t very inspirational. So rather than pulling out the Magic 8 Ball or paying a visit to Zoltar the Fortune Teller, I’m going to focus on what we know will continue into the Roaring Twenties.
Banking Will Remain A Chore
Nothing we do will ever make banking “fun”. It’s a chore no sane human looks forward to. That said, it is something that most of us have to do. Reducing friction must be a priority if you are to stay important to the members you serve.
Digital platformification will remain critically important. “Bring the branch experience back to the member through their digital platform,” said Danny Payne of Jack Henry & Associates. “The moment of need and opportunity to solve that need is the difference between being a true partner vs a place to deposit and withdraw your money.”
Data Will Remain King
While controversy continues around data, it will remain on your strategic front burner. It helps you remain relevant and offer solutions that are in the proper context. In the past 10 years we learned how data can be used to better engage members and help them and you, better understand financial needs.
Now we need to put data to work. “Data and data analytics with an eye toward practical application, solving real problems for their businesses and consumers needs to be a priority,” said Sarah Snell Cooke, Cooke Consulting Services “Execution must follow insight’, she cautions.
Andrew Smith of ClearBank, London thinks data will still open the industry to further disruption. “Understanding banks don’t own customers, nor their data. That small mindset change will lead to vast disruption,” he stated via Twitter.
You Need To Build a Strong Culture
Transforming culture will remain a priority and will impact all ranks of your credit union. Getting your team to constantly find ways to reduce member friction could be a competitive advantage.
“I’d like to see banks start to commit to establishing a true culture of innovation,” said Corey LeBlanc of Origin Bank. “One that sees budget allocation for advancement throughout the year and embraces the value of granting our customers the ability to bank with us how they choose,” he added.
Products Will Matter More Than Ever
Differentiation of financial services products will increasingly become important and key strategic imperatives. Already we are seeing new challengers like Betterment offering highly competitive checking accounts.
Ron Shevlin of Cornerstone Advisors, who has occasionally referred to financial institutions as “financial motels” said recently on Twitter that, “providing (or demonstrating) value for the checking account relationship” should be a top priority in 2020.
“My legacy banks are deposit warehouses. I have more loyalty (and am paying more fees) to fintech firms that use AI to better understand and respond to my needs,” added Jim Marous, Publisher and Fintech Influencer.
Branches Will Evolve
Chase is already showing there is life in the branch. They are strategically expanding their footprint nationwide. Yet at the same time, they are retooling staff and expectations as to how the branches will be used.
“Branches are the heart of the company,” said Gordon Smith, Co-President and Co-Chief Operating Officer, and Consumer & Community Banking CEO of Chase. “Whenever we move into a new location, it’s the branch that drives all of the business we do.”
That’s a familiar statement, taking me back to 1998, when we said we need to build high tech, high touch financial institutions. Maybe, just maybe, the future is here today.
Cheers to a another decade of banking transformation. It’s slow and steady, but I assure you, financial services is evolving!