At the end of last year, all of the bank technology forecasters predicted that retail banking investments would get short shrifted this year, with the focus on risk management, corporate and treasury technology, and other tech investments that would result in savings. An Aite Group survey of the top 100 banks in the third quarter of 2009 counters that a bit, with half of the 20 banks interviewed expecting their online channel budget to increase by more than 15 percent over 2009 levels, and 35 percent expecting an increase of five to 15 percent.

And while most of the big banks are planning to increase their already robust online channel services, their motivations vary. Some 40 percent told Aite that online sales and marketing are their primary focus, 30 percent see online service as their primary focus and 25 percent want to improve customers' online user experience.

When it comes to improving sales and marketing capabilities online, the top priority will be the development of targeted banner ads; 90 percent of the banks that don't serve these up now say they're likely or somewhat likely to do so within the next year and a half. There's a lot of room for improvement here; only one in four banks has integrated online marketing capabilities with enterprise CRM applications. The other big investment will be in the development of personal financial management tools; nearly all the banks that don't offer them now say they're considering doing so. Their primary motivation there? Account retention and customer engagement.

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