Where Bankers Are Focusing Their Attention

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A survey of banking CEOs and senior managers conducted by the Bank Administration Institute (BAI) showed that the topics of greatest interest to retail bankers this quarter are the opportunities for growth and channel diversification, a significant indicator of increasing economic optimism and financial strength in the industry, according to BAI.

"Banks learned in the late 90s that their customers crave banking access wherever and whenever they want, which led to expansion of the online channel for bank customers," said Thomas P. Johnson, Jr., BAI's president and CEO. "During the economic downturn, there was a greater tendency for banks to focus on existing channels. This new interest in growth opportunities is a sign of renewed interest in expansion that has been ratified by countless banks across the country that are renewing their investments in growing their branch networks."

More than two-thirds of respondents to the BAI survey cited channel integration and customer relationship management as the most important subjects covered at BAI's Retail Delivery Conference & Expo, which was held last month in New Orleans.

"Many financial institutions have blazed a trail that has resulted in fragmented channel strategies-hence the focus upon investing in multi-channel integration strategies and CRM today," said Chris Skinner, founder of Shaping Tomorrow. "But the challenge of channels will be even more significant over the next years thanks to instant messaging, text messaging, broadband, 3G and wireless."

"Even technologies banks thought were dead have returned, such as WAP banking, as we see the introduction of a new generation of smart phones," Skinner continued. "That is why there is a recovery in technology investments in retail banking, with the majority (75%+) focused upon multichannel solutions."

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