Tis the season for New Year’s resolutions–and that’s just as true for banks and credit unions as it is for their consumers. While most financial institutions will start 2019 with a laundry list of key initiatives and goals to pursue in the coming year, there’s just one resolution they need to make to lay the groundwork for success: commit to growth.
Many financial institutions say they want to grow, but quickly shy away from that goal when it requires change. It’s a natural reaction: change is uncertainty. But if financial institutions want to drive their business through growth across deposits, transactions, accounts and cross-sell opportunities, they’ll need to commit to growth and overcome the resistance that’s sure to ensue as long-standing products and tech stacks are re-evaluated.
In speaking with my peers across the industry, I’ve identified how financial institutions can commit to growth in a competitive battleground for consumer and business financial services:
Foster a Culture of Growth
My more respected colleagues in this space agree that this type of change means walking the walk. Leaders must embody and inspire this organizational mindset: growth is a privilege, not an obligation. A growth culture means shifting the focus away from delegated tasks like encouraging tellers to offer a CD to anyone with a certain amount of money in their account and towards new ways of thinking.
When it comes to tech and product-driven growth, every employee at every level should consider identifying new ways to improve the organization, and better ways to serve the customer as a goal to accomplish every day.
Give the People What They Want
Growth as a strategic priority demands a replication of the convenience and simplicity that e-commerce giants and tech disruptors have shown customers is possible. These providers do not have the same relationship that banks or credit unions have with customers—but they have shown them that speed, exceptional service and convenience are possible.
With that in mind, growth doesn’t mean overhauling the entire business or becoming Amazon overnight. It’s creating a path of constant, incremental improvements. Examine products and services that customers engage with frequently. Can the best parts of that experience be applied to other products, services and processes in your financial institution? Stay curious about the many ways to become better and the needs of end users.
Let Machines Do What They Do Best
Technology like artificial intelligence, predictive data and blockchain can eliminate the steps a customer has to take to get from “point A” to “point F.” If they drive growth with expedited customer onboarding, simplified applications for cross-sell products, or alert customers of potential fees they could proactively avoid, consider them. (They may also reduce some internal inefficiency, redundancy and cost).
Regardless of the technology that powers a financial institution, a growth focus demands a persistent “What’s in it for the customer?” mentality.
Don’t Diminish the Value of Insight
Customers and financial institutions have a unique relationship that requires trust and entails vulnerability, for both parties. A spirit of genuine partnership drives growth for a financial institution.
Consider a customer whose car loan is nearly paid off: whether they want to buy or lease a new car or invest the money no longer going into the loan, they’ll be faced with a financial decision. The financial institutions focused on growth will be the ones that leverage these opportunities to offer contextually relevant personal financial education, support and guidance to grow and deepen their customer relationships.
Make Growth Non-Optional
What could a financial institution accomplish if it treated growth with the same priority it gives security, fraud prevention, compliance and regulatory matters? Banks and credit unions can always deal with the costs of growth; they cannot always figure out how to deal with the cost of not growing.
The entire financial services space is in a state of disruption, but the competitive advantage one year from now will belong to those who started 2019 with a commitment to this one critical resolution.
Date: January 18, 2019