Relationship management is about as abused a phrase in financial services as electronic commerce. Yet, purely viewed and accurately targeted, both represent significant strategic areas of new market opportunity and increased customer retention and profitability for financial institutions. In the end, it comes down to serving customers-your greatest assets. Behind every great brand-pick any industry-is the company's ability to deliver consistently on customer expectations. That's what gives an institution sustainable identity.

The first priority lies in defining your institution's business strategy with razor-sharp vision. Who are your customers? Your prospects? And what does your institution want to be to them?

In addition to business strategy, identifying compelling technology solutions to support business initiatives and devising marketing campaigns that speak to what an institution can do for its customers and prospects individually is crucial-only to be outdone by the need to then run the actual numbers to measure performance and profitability.

Sounds easy, right? Well we all know that if it were that simple, the world of financial services would be a more profitable place.

Ongoing challenges of customer management, branding, call centers, investment in information technology-as well as the more granular fits and starts that occur in trying to maximize customer profitability across lines of business-is the mission behind Financial Services Marketing, a new quarterly magazine supplement of American Banker. FSM is exclusively dedicated to exploring trends, issues and players that exemplify how to "find, keep and profit from the right customers."

This issue marks its debut. Among the features in the spring issue: an inside look at how Royal Bank of Canada is shaking things up north of the U.S. border with information-based marketing; why First Union is spending big dollars on a national branding campaign; and how institutions are tapping the potentially lucrative, albeit challenging, U.S. Hispanic market.

FSM is designed to provide readers with the intellectual capital necessary to build a sustainable brand identity. War stories that culminated in a huge learning curve? Uncelebrated victories? Let us know what's happening on the customer management front in your world. Get to know us so that you can better know your customers.

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