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Former Member
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Married Baby Boomer (Male) Seeks More Intimate Relationship With Bank

I saw a documentary on TV the other day about BMW making Mini’s. The production line had 26 basic models but then each car coming off the line was slightly different, according to the specific customer order – 3 door, 5 door, colour, parking assist, tow bar, leather trim etc. The person on the assembly line customised each car in just 68 seconds. Now if car manufacturers can pull together individual tailored options based on hundreds of millions of possible variations in a matter seconds, why can’t my bank offer me something other than rigid products, inflexible processes and generic mass marketing?

I’ve had a bank account for more than 30 years. Never in all that time have I ever uttered the words, “My bank really understands my needs.” They didn’t then and, even with advances in technology and marketing solutions, they still don’t. Why do I have to continually fill out forms with repetitive information? Surely there’s a better way of complying with KYC legislation than making customers repeat themselves? Why do I continue to tolerate this sort of Stone Age behaviour? Probably because I, like most of my peers, think all banks are pretty much the same. Someone needs to be the sea change – whoever does, will get people like me voting with my feet. As a consumer, I have no real loyalty as my spending pattern is pretty erratic. I have personal accounts, company accounts and have relationships with maybe 10 financial services organisations.

I appreciate that my spending behaviour is not always predictable, but some of it is, and I’d like my bank to understand me and take the time to tailor its offerings to me. As a family, we go skiing every March. Why can’t my bank send me an offer saying, “Hello Laurence, are you going skiing again this year?” If they offer me a reasonable deal on something, I’ll probably take it especially if it is within the bounds of acceptability compared to the competition as I don’t have a lot of time to shop around. I don’t need the cheapest price. I just need a reasonable one. They could offer me a Euro account or card. I’ve been a customer with them for more than a decade, they know my credit history, and by offering me a slightly better rate with currency, they’ll make me a happy customer. Likewise, my insurance company could be doing something similar. They could offer me proactive travel insurance or forge partnerships and offer me tangible discounts with chalets or ski equipment companies. 

Many people, get an annual bonus at the same time of year, mostly every year, yet banks seems oblivious to this fact. They’re essentially the holding area for money until it's moved into a purchase or a different investment vehicle. On top of this, I saw a statistic the other day that said 71 per cent of people would rather go to the dentist than listen to what their bank has to say! So how can we change this perception and make the bank relevant to me, add value and rebuild the trust that has been eroded after the financial crisis I want my bank to provide value, not transactions. If they do that they are likely to take me “off the market” and sell me a product or a service before the competition is even aware I was in the market for something. That is real customer insight and service, but my bank doesn’t show any real interest in engaging in a more value based relationship with me. They’re missing a trick and leaving money on the table whilst we spend it elsewhere.

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Laurence Leyden is Head of Financial Services, EMEA at SAP.