If you look at the sensitivity in a bank’s budget, $1 of investment in a new line of business usually doesn’t break even for two to three years. $1 invested in finding a new customer usually returns about 9%, while $1 invested in a new product is usually above 20%. This all compares to about a 40%+ return invested in improving processes (loan, branch, cash management, etc.) and about an 80% plus return spent on reducing customer churn, increasing lifetime value and/or helping cross-sell.
If you want a more innovative bank, it starts, and largely stops, with what your approval process looks like for new technology. Take a human and force them to grow up in New York City. Around age 20, you force them to go to conferences on living in the outdoors, hunting, fishing, and survival. You also hire consultants to come in and teach outdoor skills. Take your well-outdoor trained city dweller and then put them into the middle of the Colorado Rockies, chances are they become bear-food in a week. That is basically how banks are handling innovation.
When it comes to long-range strategic planning in banking, what to do about payments, should be in the top five considerations up there with treasury management, capital allocation, risk tolerance, and human capital. Payments are such a central part to banking and are now undergoing such a radical change that all banks have an opportunity to reclaim transaction market share back from the card networks, card processors and even national banks. Below, we highlight our ten considerations when developing a payments strategy.
Back in the 1980s, there were more banks, smaller banks, and little technology. We were still driving checks around, there was no online banking, and networked ATMs was the latest in bank technology. At the time, the rule of thumb for bankers was that each bank employee produced about $20,000 of operating profit per year. Since each bank had about 100 employees, operating profit was about $2mm per community bank. In this article, we look at how this equation has changed and what it means for the future.
One question we always ask is if we are spending enough on technology? After that question, we get confused and mired in the quicksand of financial reporting, finance philosophy and technology strategy. “Technology” is so pervasive that it is difficult to determine what the difference is between spending on “digital” projects versus “analog” projects. For instance, if we upgrade our phone system from dedicated copper to fiber optics that is an analog project but if we convert over to a slower voice-over-IP system is that a digital project?
While most banks think they need a new digital account opening process, the reality is that most banks need a new digital onboarding process. Despite all of our technological progress, it’s the analog process where the most massive failures are. To this point, we just mystery shopped two renowned banks, Umpqua and Citibank, and in both cases, we were met with adjunct failure. Here at CenterState, we are relooking at our digital onboarding process in hopes of getting it right.
It happens all the time. The next shiny object gets bolted to a bank’s digital platform, and a bank ends up with a hodgepodge of different applications, interfaces, workflow, and user experiences. For example, a bank may use two different applications for consumer and commercial account opening each with a different look and different set of business logic such as identity verification. To make matters worse, a bank may have different applications online as it does for mobile or in the branch.
It is fairly common for a bank to want to be more innovative or take on a new strategic direction and the first thing they do is form a committee. They then decide who should be on that committee and in the desire to be all-inclusive, management invites each department head and maybe a board member or two. The thinking is that this structure will ensure the greatest number of ideas and that those ideas will be vetted. You know what happens? A great number of ideas, good vetting but very little innovation.
It has been six months since Citibank released their upgraded mobile app. During that time, their app has garnered a following and we have been able to collect data on the user experience. We now rank Citi as the third best banking app behind Wells Fargo and USAA and it is moving up. Citi has closed the gap not only with all banks but with most fintech firms as well. This new app is the foundation of their yet to be released digital bank which is why everyone is paying such close attention.
Since technology permeates everything we do, it is no surprise that engineering and development methodologies used in information technology (IT) diffuse into other areas of the bank. In the 1980’s the “waterfall” methodology went mainstream and management organized new products, processes, marketing campaigns and everything else around the concept. By 2000, “agile development” was all the rage. Now, in 2018, “DevOps” is the latest management development methodology.