Bankers like to say they're in the information business. But how well do banks and other financial services companies compare to other industries when it comes to systematically gathering information about competitors and economic conditions?

A recent business intelligence survey conducted by the Futures Group found that banks are more likely than other industries to have a formal structure for feeding such important information to top executives. The most common "intelligence" received involves changing market structure, customer and supplier activities, and the regulatory climate.

More than firms in other industries, decision makers at financial services companies are also more likely to receive information that has been analyzed (76% versus 63%). What's more, bankers are more eager than executives in other businesses to receive more information than they do now (67% versus 45%). Notably, three out of four bankers cite a need to get better intelligence on emerging technology initiatives, compared to 63% for other major industries.

Still, banks with formal business intelligence systems in place rate their effectiveness at 5.8 on a scale of 1 to 10, slightly below the norm of 5.86%. No banking company made the Futures Group top 10 list of companies that best use competitive intelligence.

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