Brett King

Posts Tagged ‘acquisition’

Banks: KYC is Killing Your Customers (Huff Post)

In Retail Banking, Strategy, Technology Innovation on February 23, 2010 at 05:53

See the original blog entry on Huffington Post…

In my discussions with bankers about innovation, I often hear them tell me that perhaps in other industries innovation could be achieved, but due to heavy regulation and the compliance requirements of the banking sector that such is more difficult for financial institutions. This is part of the story, but I’m sure that it is fixable.

I met with a Private Banker from one of the dominant bank brands in Asia this week. In Central Hong Kong this bank has it’s own tower, of which three floors are dedicated to the Private Banking unit, but that’s only half true. Almost half of that office space is taken up by a team that is designed to reduce risk to the bank by ensuring that customers are accurately informed of the risks their investments will carry, and to ensure that the bank does not commit itself or their client to undue risks. The name of this team within the Private Bank – the Business Prevention unit – I jest ye not.

Has it come to this that regulation and risk aversion is such an important part of the bank that we now actively try to prevent business occurring? It would appear so.

This explains a great deal about the current state of our banking sector. If customers are a risky proposition, then how does the bank make money? Well they invest it in stuff where they know they have an element of control, or in the case of sub-prime they try to actively engineer it so that they make profit regardless of the underlying asset risk. Some banks have even been known to borrow money from the government and margin trade on it in recent times…

The point of this is that banks have become so myopic in respect to customer risk that as customer we’ve almost become an anathema. In fact, the compliance workload we as customers have to deal with these days is so offensive, that it is almost not worth engaging a bank for an investment deal or asking for a loan. To illustrate, in the mid 80’s I recall being a student and walking in to open an account with no identification, I filled out two cards with a specimen signature, my address and particulars, and that was it. Now that same bank requires a 100-point identification scorecard to be realized, and the basic current account application form is some 18 pages long. This is progress apparently.

Compliance procedures are Killing customer experience Figure 1 – Internal Compliance Procedures are bad for business

Now, I appreciate we have Anti-Money Laundering, we have identity theft, we have IRS and tax departments eager to know what we’re doing with our money, and we have regulators that are making it their job to ensure we don’t invest in a financial product that we don’t fully understand. Sometimes, just sometimes, however, we just want a decent banking experience. We just want it to work, and the more paperwork you throw at us, the more hoops you make us jump through – the worse our banking experience is.

The thing with this is, that although there are regulations and legal constraints, most of the work we have to do is due to internal bank policy and process. For example, let’s say an existing customer comes to the bank to ask for a loan – this is a customer we’ve known for 5 years, his salary gets paid every month on time, and he’s a low credit risk based on what we already know. Why then is it that this same customer has to fill out an application form with the same details he’s provided us with since day one?

There is absolutely no regulatory or legal requirement for the process to be handled in this way. Right now this is all about making it easier for the bank to mitigate risk for their brand. A customer-focused bank would either allow the customer to sign on with their Internet Banking credentials to agree to the loan, perhaps sign on a tablet or digital form or if absolutely necessary generate a paper application form based on existing customer records where all he had to do was sign. All of these solutions would produce exactly the same result from a regulator’s or compliance perspective as a hefty paper KYC process.

So why as banks don’t we do this way? Firstly, no one senior enough in the bank has sponsored such a move. Secondly, because the internal IT department would probably take 15,000 man days, and $184.63 m to enable this. And lastly, because at the end of the day as bank executives we get rewarded for mitigating bank risk, not for making customer experience better.

Regulators and bankers need to separate ‘customer’ risk from operational risk, and in this way innovation can still occur.

Advertisements

An organization structure that doesn’t match customer behavior

In Retail Banking, Strategy on October 26, 2009 at 13:11

Excerpt from Chapter 2 – Measuring the Customer Experience

By examining the behaviour of customers, the glaring realization is that institutions are essentially assuming that customers only ever use one channel at a time to interact with them. Hence, it is not unusual to find a web team that believes that it can take 30-40% of branch traffic and service it online. Likewise it is not unusual to hear proponents of Branch banking telling us “the branch is back” and that the winning strategy is to be investing in more real estate and variations of branch to retain customers. It’s also not unusual for customers to receive dozens of direct mail offers, email marketing offers or sms promotions from different ‘revenue centres’ within the bank independent of each other.

In 2008 90-95% of daily transactions are done electronically and in most cases the majority of transaction volume comes through direct channels namely ATM, Call Centre and Internet. By February of 2007, HSBC in Hong Kong reported in the South China Morning Post that 90% of their daily transactions were through phone, Internet or ATM, leaving the rest to branch. RaboBank, FirstDirect, INGDirect, and others have been able to successfully operate without any reliance on branch structures. This is not a criticism of branches, because we believe that branches will remain an essential part of the future of banking. However, look at the organization structure of most banks today and you’ll see a complete and total lack of understanding of customer behaviour inherit within the organization chart. It’s really quite appalling that the organization structure of many banks have not caught up with this reality.

When you examine the organization structure of most retail banks, the Head of Branch networks is second only to the Head of Retail, and in many cases is a direct report to the CEO. In comparison the manager responsible for Internet often sits under the IT or Marketing departments three or four levels below the organizational equivalent of the branch business unit lead. So let’s get this straight. 90% of the transactions go through channels that are managed by managers who have only a modicum of influence within the organization structure, while the head of Branches has the ear of the CEO and looks after just 5-10% of the daily traffic within the bank.

Figure - Partial Retail Banking Org Chart as it relates to channel priorities

Figure - Partial Retail Banking Org Chart as it relates to channel priorities

“Ah, but the branch generates all the revenue…” we’ve heard it argued. This is a really good justification for keeping traditional structures in place. Well let us really examine if that is the case.

Let us take credit card acquisitions as an example. How do we market credit cards? Currently we might use direct mail, newspaper advertisements, web and possibly promotional marketing offering a ‘free gift’ if clients sign up for a new Visa card or Mastercard. Customers are then faced with probably two or three choices of how to apply. The first option is that they can call the call centre, but the call centre refers them to the branch because they need to present proof of income and proof of identity to an officer of the bank. The same might be the case for the internet, where the application can be filled online, but we then call them and ask them to come into the branch to complete the application.

Who gets to record the revenue for the credit card application? Not the call centre, or the internet channel. Often it is the physical branch that executes the final signature on the application form and the KYC compliance check on the proof of income – so it happily records the revenue of the sale. But the branch has actually had practically zero involvement in the sale, and simply is just a ‘step’ in a required adherence to an outmoded compliance process. So does the branch actually generate the revenue, or is it merely an accounting treatment?

The attitude of many retail banking senior executives seems to be that the branch is a serious banking channel, whereas the remainder of “alternative” channels are just that – alternatives to the ‘real thing’. The problem is that customers simply don’t think like this. They don’t assign a higher value or priority to the branch; they just see it as one of the many channels they can choose to do their banking. In fact, many customers these days choose not to go the branch because they don’t want to stand in line, or they find it troublesome to get to the branch at times when they are open. Admittedly the branch is the premium service channel, but it is not the ONLY channel. So why don’t the banks think the way customers do?

The longer banks choose to reinforce a belief that the branch is superior within the organization structure, the longer it will take them to match the performance of the bank to the changing behaviour of retail customers.