By @SimonCocking. Delighted to bring you our latest catch up with Jim Marous Keynote Speaker, Author and Strategist Top 10 and Influencer Co-Publisher of The Financial Brand Owner of the Digital Banking Report

How are you since we last interviewed you? 

The banking industry continues to move at a dizzying pace which keeps me busy. Besides being the co-publisher of The Financial Brand, where I contribute 3-4 articles each week, I am also the owner and publisher of the Digital Banking Report, where we create nine 70+ page research reports each year. In my ‘spare’ time, I travel the globe delivering keynote addresses and meeting with banking leaders to discuss innovation, digital transformation, the impact of advanced data analytics on marketing and product development, and overarching industry trends. I have visited 20 countries in the last 18 months with a busy schedule on the horizon. In fact, I am scheduled to visit Dublin on November 17-18 to deliver the keynote, “Personalization in Banking: From Novelty to Necessity” at the Efma Sales and Marketing Summit.

You mention personalization in banking. You recently did a Digital Banking Report entitled, The Power of Personalization in Banking. What were your findings?

Our report was based on a global research project undertaken in conjunction with GfK and Personetics. It included both a consumer and a banking institution component, asking about the desire for, and experience with, personalization in the financial services industry. Our most important finding was that consumers want their primary bank to know them better and are willing to provide access to insight that will assist in this understanding. We also found that financial institutions want to know their customers better, but that there is a significant gap between desire and delivery.

Can you explain more about the ‘personalization gap’ in banking?

We found that despite consumers wanting their bank to know them, look out for them and reward them, 57% saw their primary bank as a “necessary utility”, with only 34% believing their bank had their best interest in mind. We also found that far less than half of the consumers believed their primary bank provided real-time personalized guidance that could help them save more and/or avoid fees. From the perspective of financial institutions, many stated that they are aggressively trying to capture and use data and advanced analytics, but less than one in five were able to provide real-time personalized guidance through digital channels. More concerning was that roughly 40% of financial institutions either do not have plans to offer real-time insights or are in the ‘static’ mode without this capability today.

You suggest that Banks are not yet able to deliver the real-time information and data that we have come to expect from other services and sectors we use and engage with. Why do you think Banking is perhaps lagging behind in this respect?

We all are aware that banking has more account, transaction and behavioral data and insights available on their customers than virtually any other industry. The problem is that much of this data resides in disparate silos within the organization that are not easy to consolidate and leverage. In addition, there have been several competing priorities over the past few years, including compliance, cost reduction, privacy and security as well as a new competitive landscape. While all of these have been challenges in the past, doing nothing is not a viable strategy. In fact, the advantage of most fintech firms is their ability to leverage data and advanced analytics to deliver a contextual digital solution. With advanced data analytics technology being more accessible than ever, the ability to deliver on the personalization promise has become table stakes in banking.

What do you think are reasonable levels of service for customers to expect from their banking providers over the next 12 months?

The financial organizations that will succeed in the long term will find a way to digitize both the back office and front office for the benefit of the consumer. Instead of focusing digital transformation on reducing costs or developing great reports, the winning organizations will focus on using advanced analytics to drive product development, digital delivery and marketing communications that directly impact the improvement of the customer experience. Since many non-banking organizations already have a significant advantage in delivering better service during the customer journey, financial institutions are challenged to raise the bar on all forms of service delivery to compete and succeed.

When you mention the customer journey, how does banking improve the digital experience early in the journey?

 We just published a Digital Banking Report, State of the Digital Customer Journey, that surveyed the digital maturity of financial institutions globally with regard to new account opening, onboarding and cross-selling of additional services online and on mobile devices. As with the delivery of a personalized experience, we found that the vast majority of financial institutions are not doing well in providing a seamless digital experience during these early stages of a relationship. In fact, only 20% of financial organizations worldwide are able to open a new account with a mobile device and the majority of those organizations still require a visit to a branch to complete the process. While the percentage of organizations that can open an account online were greater, the majority of these institutions also needed branch involvement for KYC stages, wet signatures or for funding the new account. When we inquired about digital onboarding and cross-selling, just slightly over half or the organizations even had an onboarding program, with less than half communicating more than 2 times during the first six months. Based on our research, this commitment to customer engagement is far from optimal.

You publish an annual Retail Banking Trends and Predictions report each year. How are last year’s predictions panning out? 

Interestingly, the vast majority of the trends and predictions from our more than 100 crowdsourced financial services industry influences are progressing as they had predicted. The most mentioned trend, the platformification™  of banking (coined by fintech mafia member Ron Shevlin) has seen the most progress, with a great deal of cooperation between fintech firms and legacy banking organizations taking place this year. We have also seen a great deal of advancement in the areas of digital delivery, advanced analytics, blockchain, etc. The only trend that has not moved forward to the degree expected by the panel was in the area of mobile payments. This projection has actually fallen short of expectations for the least three years.

Do you plan on publishing another report for 2017?

We plan on doing our 2017 survey in late November with a publish date of right before the holidays. This is our most popular report, and drives more than 100,000 page views each year to The Financial Brand website. If your readers would like to see our 2016 report, they can get a FREE copy last year’s report by going here ($395 value).

Finally, will the result of the US election have any impact either way on the evolution of US fintech sector? (crystal ball time?)

It is almost impossible to be a procrastinator around the US elections with so much negative sentiment overall. We will most likely have no idea about the winner until after the election (if then). It is even harder to determine how the election may impact the fintech or overall banking sectors. There is a great deal of alignment between Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren, which may indicate a desire to further increase regulation on banking and an increasing dialogue around breaking up the big banks (recent evidence of this was during hearing focused on the Wells Fargo cross-sell scandal). Overall, the US government continues to lag other countries regarding the opening of opportunities for non-bank financial technology firms. I reserve all projections around the impact if Donald Trump wins since his perspective on most issues is far from clear.





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