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  • Global Retail Banking 2018

    The Power of Personalization

  • The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) is a global management consulting firm and the world’s leading advisor on business strategy. We partner with clients from the private, public, and not-for- profit sectors in all regions to identify their highest-value opportunities, address their most critical challenges, and transform their enterprises. Our customized approach combines deep insight into the dynamics of companies and markets with close collaboration at all levels of the client organization. This ensures that our clients achieve sustainable competitive advantage, build more capable organizations, and secure lasting results. Founded in 1963, BCG is a private company with offices in more than 90 cities in 50 countries. For more information, please visit

  • May 2018 | The Boston Consulting Group








    Global Retail Banking 2018

  • 2 | The Power of Personalization



    6 RETAIL BANKING GROWTH AND CHALLENGES, BY REGION The Impact of Regulation Greater Dispersion of Performance


    15 PERSONALIZED BANKING A Fundamental Shift in How Banks Operate A Structured and Recursive Three-Step Approach Economic Payoff

    19 UBIQUITOUS DISTRIBUTION Moving Beyond Channels The Challenge Between Now and 2025




  • The Boston Consulting Group | 3

    You could more easily find a yachtsman willing to sail into a sustained 40-mile-an-hour headwind than a retail bank trying to stick with a nondigital strategy.

    Banks know where the prevailing economic and technological forces are pushing them these days. But they are moving at very different speeds and focusing on different milestones.

    BCG’s latest bank study shows that the economic benefits are increas- ing for traditional retail banks that have implemented the most effec- tive digital strategies. Between their more developed digital strategies and (in many cases) regional advantages, the top-performing banks now have cost-income ratios that are 19% better than those of median banks. That differential has been growing for the past two years.

    On the other hand, the pressure to embrace a more digital mode of operation has eliminated the differences in certain service areas. For instance, most banks have implemented online and mobile self-service capabilities. Likewise, most banks have added enough automation to their call centers to enable them to provide acceptable customer ser- vice with a smaller operations staff and at a lower cost. Once big ad- vantages, these capabilities now represent mere table stakes.

    This year’s data, part of BCG’s annual benchmarking of banks across more than 100 key performance indicators, underscores the extent to which banking is a local business affected by each market’s regula- tions, competitive dynamics, and consumer behaviors. For instance, retail banks in North America have structural advantages—including high fee and commission ratios—that give them profit margins that wouldn’t be possible elsewhere. Banks in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Australia—countries where most customers interact with their banks primarily through digital channels and rarely set foot in a phys- ical bank—can embrace digital delivery more aggressively than banks in less-connected countries can.

    But BCG’s Retail Banking Excellence Benchmark (REBEX) also uncov- ers sizable differences between local banks. Against local competitors, banks are in a position to control their own destinies.

    Looking at the universe of banks in six major geographic regions— North America, Asia-Pacific, Western Europe, Latin America, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East/Africa—we observe that banks are about midway through their transformation journeys. Many banks have made progress in digitizing for cost, although they still need to move


  • 4 | The Power of Personalization

    from pilots to large-scale initiatives to reap the benefits of their digital investments. Banks are less far along in digitizing for value. (See Ex- hibit 1.) The goal of this more ambitious phase is to find ways to serve the customer better—and in doing so, to earn more revenue per cus- tomer and increase retention. The best route to success is through a reinvention of the customer engagement model.

    To make further progress in digitizing for value, retail banks around the world must address two emerging imperatives: personalization and continuous delivery.

    The personalization imperative has several dimensions:

    • Personalization is quickly becoming a primary mechanism for increasing both customer satisfaction and economic value in banking. Customer retention is higher at banks that understand customers’ financial needs and interact with customers in ways that reflect their preferences.

    • Improved data and rapidly improving digital technologies enable banks to meet customers’ heightened expectations of personaliza- tion. Banks should use these tools to get a clear sense of each customer’s financial and behavioral DNA and to develop individu- alized offers on that basis.

    Re ve

    nu es

    p er

    c us

    to m

    er ($










    0 100 200 300 400 500 600 700


    Digitize for value

    Secure margins and double down on digitizing for cost

    Undertake more full-scale digitization initiatives for both cost and value

    Operational costs per customer ($)

    Sources: BCG Retail Banking Excellence Benchmark 2017 (REBEX); BCG analysis. Note: The 21 banks represented here are the biggest banks in large banking markets in BCG’s REBEX database. The “more digitally advanced banks,” in the two left-hand quadrants, have higher levels of digital interactions, transactions, and sales than the “less digitally advanced banks,” in the two right-hand quadrants. The positioning of the quadrants is defined by the median revenues per customer (x-axis) and the median operational costs per customer (y-axis).

    Exhibit 1 | What the Biggest Banks Must Do to Improve Their Performance

  • The Boston Consulting Group | 5

    • Banks that succeed with personalization will become better at acquiring, engaging, and retaining customers. This improvement will add appreciably to their growth and profits.

    The issue of continuous delivery, meanwhile, involves two key points:

    • Bank convenience used to be a function of the number of physical retail outlets that a bank had in a given city or town. In the future, convenience will increasingly revolve around the concept of always- on banking. Payment services will be embedded in every aspect of the online shopping experience and will be available for peer-to-peer transactions in social networks.

    • The number, type, and timing of these interactions are evolving quickly. To remain flexible, banks will have to build sophisticated routing platforms that ensure continuous delivery of the personal- ized experience, through digitally empowered relationship manag- ers, automated customer care centers, and self-service technologies.

    In most parts of the world, the bank transformation imperative (or as we called it last year, the imperative for bionic transformation) is com- ing at a time of improving conditions in the sector. (See Global Retail Banking 2017: Accelerating Bionic Transformation, BCG report, July 2017.) BCG Banking Pools, our forecasting unit, forecasts an annual rise of 5.3% in global retail bank revenues between now and the end of 2021, exceeding the fastest growth recorded in the past decade. The gains will be greater in some regions than in others, however:

    • Asian bank revenue will grow by about 8% annually for the next few years, helped by financial inclusion and the rollout of digital banking services. By 2021, BCG predicts, Asia will surpass North America as the region with the highest retail banking revenues.

    • Two other young banking regions, Latin America and the Middle East and Africa, will also experience above-average revenue growth. In Latin America, the key growth catalyst will be Brazil’s renewed economic vitality. In Africa, the catalyst will be financial inclusion.

    • Revenues will grow at a considerably slower pace in the mature North American banking market than in these still-developing markets. But North American banks will likely get a lift from higher interest rates, which will help them improve their margins. The banks will also benefit from their customers’ growing interest in investment products.

    • At the bottom, in terms of growth, will be European banks. Western European banks are facing some unfavorable regulations just as they start to recover from an environment of punishingly low interest rates. Their revenues, on average, will grow by only 2.2% on a compound annual basis over the next few years. Eastern European banks will fare better, except in Russia, the region’s largest market, where we expect the banking sector to continue to struggle with nonperforming loans