Model Bank 2017: Small Business and Corporate Digital Innovation Themes

Model Bank 2017: Small Business and Corporate Digital Innovation Themes

This is the fifth article in a weekly series highlighting trends and themes from Celent’s Model Bank submission process. For more information on how the Model Bank Awards have evolved, see the first two pieces from Dan Latimore and Zil Bareisis. This particular article is focused on innovations in small business and corporate banking:  two critical market segments for financial institutions as they seek revenue growth and relevance in the evolving digital B2B marketplace. 

When evaluating this year’s Model Bank submissions that are targeted at small business and corporate clients, we identified a number of excellent initiatives in each of the five overall categories:

    Customer Experience

    Products

    Operations and Risk

    Legacy Transformation / IT Platform Innovations

    Emerging Innovation

For these two segments, the Model Bank award candidates come from Europe, North America, the Caribbean, Asia Pacific and the Middle East. Despite the wide geographic spread of the submissions we received, certain common themes became evident that are important to highlight, 

Enhancing client experience is paramount: Banks are intensely focused on how to deliver solutions to clients in ways that are convenient and easy to use in order to meet the emerging expectations of business users based on their consumer experiences with technology. Creating a consolidated point of access for all corporate banking services using portal technology that eliminates the need for multiple logins and security procedures was just one of the types of initiatives that were submitted.  Mobile and tablet access are becoming mainstream channels for employees of business and corporate clients to effectively manage their daily workload no matter where they might be located.

Improving digital channels is not enough to succeed: The initiatives that demonstrate significant quantifiable benefits to banks and clients are those that address the inefficiencies in the way that bank employees interact with their clients but also involve the elimination of paper-intense, manual workflows both for the client and the bank. From the use of videoconferencing technology to access experts in trade finance for advisory services to the replacement of faxed instructions with digitally signed transactions initiated on mobile phones, banks are finding innovative ways to contribute to their own efficiency while also improving client productivity. Another critical element of the digitization of these processes is speed. Automation enables faster decisions (for example for credit approval) and this provides business with a superior service and the ability to manage their businesses rather than managing their banking relationships. These initiatives drive revenue growth and loyalty because the bank’s services provide quantifiable benefits to clients that are seeking to leverage technology advances in order to more effective manage their working capital.

Reinvention in Small Business Banking: I was struck by several of the initiatives that represent an entirely new way of thinking about how to enable entrepreneurs and small business owners to succeed. Rather than tweaking traditional banking solutions that are designed for consumers or larger businesses, several of the banks submitted initiatives that reflect an entirely different way of meeting the needs of small business clients. Recognizing that the needs of entrepreneurs and start-ups fall well beyond the services that a bank traditionally offers (i.e. credit, payments, cash management), a few innovative banks have attempted to reinvent business banking by offering a complete, integrated package that combines traditional banking activities with non-banking services that extend beyond even the adjacent types of solutions that banks typically make available through partnerships (e.g. payroll services). The goal of these packages is to offer a business owner every piece of business functionality and technology they would need to grow their business. What makes these solutions especially impactful is that they are designed from a business owner’s perspective and don’t reflect a bank-centric view of how the client should manage their business. 

I hope this brief description whets your appetite for more discussion on our award winners in small business and corporate banking at the 10th annual Innovation and Insight Day on April 4th in Boston. I look forward to seeing you there.

Channel Strategy for Corporate Banking: Is Your Bank Paying Enough Attention?

Channel Strategy for Corporate Banking: Is Your Bank Paying Enough Attention?
According to the GTNews 2016 Transaction Banking Survey Report, 91% of North American corporates are evaluating their cash management partners. Of those, 27% indicated that improving availability of online and mobile banking tools were a major reason for reviewing their bank relationships, and 55% cited the need for an improved customer experience. Clearly, these responses are evidence that large numbers of corporate clients are less than satisfied with the channel tools and the overall digital client experience being offered.  Most of the banks we interviewed for recent research on this topic are hearing loud and clear that clients are looking for more streamlined, convenient, and faster access to banking services and information.  Our recent report, Strategies for Enhancing Corporate Client Experience: The Future of Attended Channels looks at strategies that leading North American and global banks are adopting to achieve the following goals:
  • Build out integrated portals to make invisible the organizational and product silos inherent in corporate banking.
  • Simplify the user experience.
  • Establish an omnichannel approach to providing consistent data and access to transactions across channels.
  • Enhance authentication options, including biometrics.
  • Expand self-service, including the ability to securely exchange documents and open accounts and new services.
While we found broad agreement on importance of the themes described above, we identified other aspects of digital channel strategy that varied widely from bank to bank.  The graphic below summarizes those opportunities for differentiation. Celent recommends that banks take the following steps to optimizing their future investments in attended channels:
  1. Define the Digital Strategy for Corporate Banking, Not Just the Digital Channel Strategy.  In the current environment, attempting to implement a successful strategy for digital channels in the absence of an overall digital transformation strategy for corporate banking is short-sighted.
  2. Understand How Attended Digital Channels Fit into Clients’ Daily Workflow.  Product management and strategy executives at many institutions are driving prioritization in channels based on a set of assumptions about client preferences that may not be valid. Mapping those client digital journeys from onboarding to servicing to managing exception situations for each client persona is critical.
  3. Reexamine the Role of Partners.  In reality, the delivery of services through attended channels has always involved multiple partners, whether the bank has developed an “in-house” solution or offers one or more off–the-shelf vendor solutions. As demands for “non-core” banking functionality grows and technology evolves to enable easier integration with multiple partners, the importance of the bank maintaining control of the user experience layer that is seen and touched by the client becomes even more critical.
The decisions being made today about attended digital channels — whether as a part of a larger digital transformation initiative, enhancing the channel user experience, or establishing a corporate banking portal — will have a significant impact on the ability of corporate banks to attract and retain clients.

AFP 2010 Roundup

AFP 2010 Roundup
Conference season has concluded. After several weeks on the road, I finally hit the last stop on the fall conference circuit – The AFP Annual Conference. This popular business banking conference took place last week in lovely San Antonio, Texas. The trend of increased attendance figures continues (see my BAI Retail Delivery post here), as the conference halls were loaded with attendees. The exhibit hall did seem a tad smaller than usual, although perhaps that was just due to the shape of the hall. In any case, after several days of good meetings with banks and software vendors, I noted the following themes:
  • Mobile solutions for corporates are becoming mainstream. My colleague Zil and I noted the start of this trend at the recent SIBOS conference in Amsterdam. There were a ton of announcements, and demos were being showcased in the exhibit hall. Announcements were made by PNC, Union Bank, and Citizens Financial Group to name a few. Bank of America Merrill Lynch was also showcasing a mobile demo for its CashPro product. I first wrote a report on corporate mobile banking in 2007, complete with a case study on Wells Fargo’s CEO Mobile. My report was a tad early for the market, and now that things are progressing I will revisit the topic in a 2011 report. Stay tuned!
  • Growing interest in small business online banking solutions. Many of the conversations I had at the AFP were on the topic of small business online banking. The majority of banks still have no clue what differentiates a small business online banking solution from a corporate cash management solution. Luckily, I have addressed this topic with a vendor evaluation of small business online banking solutions. The report was released last week, just in time for the AFP, and provided for lots of questions from banks and vendors. A second report on the subject is forthcoming and should be released by the end of the month.
  • Portal perplexity. To portal or not to portal? Several banks I spoke to are in the middle of trying to determine if they should build a corporate banking portal that would encompass all transaction banking services. This dashboard would provide quick task execution, at a glance info, and be fully customizable. The build versus buy debate was raging, coupled with the difficulty of integrating multiple vendor solutions.
  • The cash management market is still on fire. The number of banks that have sent out RFIs or RFPs is staggering. I am still amazed at how many banks are undertaking decisions here. The fact is however that some of these fires are the same ones we witnessed last year – sales cycles and decision making times are long. Solution replacement growth is still quite strong and I expect it to continue well into 2011.

 

Those are my quick hits from the conference. I welcome all comments and thoughts. I also encourage those of you who were in attendance to share your experiences!