Automation, excellence and the transformation of client-bank relationships
Clients want the world, and more. And why not? Delivering to clients what they need is, after all, literally our institutional raison d’être. Clients expect, even increasingly demand, levels of reliability, predictability, speed of delivery, transparency and simplicity that are unheard of in our industry. As we discuss here, the demands now being placed upon technology are rising alongside the supply of solutions offered by technology.
Not just about technology
Technology is at the root of everything, but it is not in itself everything. It is helping banks to deliver and is in turn leading to a transformation of the treasurer’s role. As the automation of day-to-day activity grows relentlessly, the corporate treasurer can focus on a more value-added agenda, which will on any given day involve some or even all of the following.
Managing risks in FX, interest rates, liquidity, fraud and cyberattacks;
Reducing costs and optimising the deployment of working capital requirements;
Scanning the market for opportunities arising from the development of new technology, the changing industry landscape and continuing changes in regulation;
Providing financial control with better insight using data analytics;
Delivering the company’s strategic roadmap.
While technology makes the day-to-day working life simpler, the corporate treasurer is faced with addressing increasingly complex issues in increasingly complex organisations. In a changing world, the treasurer also deals with an ever-rising number of options proposed by an increasing number of different market participants.
At some point in the future, interoperability and the harmonisation of standards might prevail but this is hardly the case yet. In this context, treasurers need trusted partners to help make sense of this complexity and help them make the right decisions.
What we all need to know
Client feedback has a central role to play in an effective process. In the interests of continuing corporate development, we regularly ask clients for their feedback using NPS© methodology (Net Promoter Score).
What clients tell us is not only insightful, it is also very different from what many involved in the industry might predict. The results show that execution is a prerequisite, but it is not the be-all and the end-all.
For corporate clients, what really makes a positive difference and influences their choice of banking partners is not the technology, not the execution and not even the price. If anything, as counter-intuitive as it might seem, these three components - which most financial sector professionals would arguably traditionally regard as key to client satisfaction - are more often viewed as negative drivers of dissatisfaction if expectations are not being met.
By contrast, clients tell us that what comes on top of their list if they are to recommend their bank positively is the following, in order of priority.
The bank’s management of the relationship;
The bank’s ability and willingness to commit and to lend;
The bank’s breadth of service, products and geographical footprint.
Interesting and paradoxical
This is both interesting and paradoxical.
In this unparalleled new age of growing digital interaction, our clients tell us that the relationship model - which many might have thought would be confined to the dustbin of banking history - does in fact continue to be the key driver for client satisfaction.
In an age of increasing organisational complexity, accelerating change, and a growing number of options, treasurers tell us that what makes the difference for them with their banking counterparts is the bank to corporate relationship.
Clients need informed and experienced partners who know and understand them. Banking partners who can align human expertise with client-specific issues to introduce the appropriate solutions at the right time, are adding true value to the relationship, helping to win trust and market share.
Organisations are not merely the sum of their machines, their processes and their staff. They are a living, breathing amalgam of demonstrable culture, history, ambition and achievement. Clients need a trusted banking adviser supporting them over time and through the entire lifecycle of an organisation, including phases of expansion, consolidation and adaptation.
Invest to adapt
What have come to be regarded as arguably the core theses of Darwinism – evolution to reflect a changing environment and the survival of the fittest – are being tested and proved in 21st century circumstances of which Charles Darwin could never have dreamt.
Those that continue to invest in strengthening the corporate to bank relationship will find themselves on top of the world. Those that get it wrong? Well, maybe they ought to have read ‘On the origin of species’, Charles Darwin’s most famous text.