Senior banking executives around the world having a lend of themselves when they say core banking systems are holding back the shift to digital. Instead, there seems to be a cultural problem that puts the emphasis on sales ahead of customer needs and experiences. In simple terms, bankers don’t get digital.

Buried deep inside a report called “Sales or Customer Focused”, is this striking insight into the mind of banking leaders: “In spite of the lack of progress achieved, 48 per cent of respondents believe ‘customer centricity’ is an overused term. Moreover, 75 per cent state that banks have not concentrated efforts on improving customer services in recent years and remain focused on sales specific activities.

The study into the global retail banking study, published by Misys and Efma, found that “The majority of banks (87 per cent) perform less than ten per cent of sales via digital, and for one in five banks this figure falls to less than one per cent of sales. In addition, only 12 per cent of customer acquisition is conducted via digital channels, proving banks are failing to fully exploit online and mobile to engage customers.

Meanwhile, the bankers themselves believe that the heart of the their digital darkness lies with the core banking system. This is nominated as the number-one technology challenge.

More than sixty per cent of those surveyed said core systems — which take years to implement — are a barrier to optimising sales performance (note the focus on selling, not serving).

Indeed, a third of banks view core systems as incapable of meeting the demands of the sales process, with 12 per cent referring to their banks’ core system as ‘highly incapable’. Examining the business impact of technology issues facing sales teams, slow time to market with new products and services is causing the most pain. Banks are also frustrated by an inability to create customer-driven, personal products and services.

Among the key findings:

  • Three quarters of executives say banks haven’t concentrated efforts on improving customer services and remain focused on sales-specific activities;
  • Nearly half believe ‘customer-centricity’ is an overused term;
  • Overwhelmingly most banks globally perform less than ten per cent of sales via digital;
  • Sales via digital are forecast to jump from 13 per cent today up to 75 per cent in three years — but questions remain about how this will this be achieved.

According to Vincent Bastid, CEO, Efma, “The ambitious plans to drive the majority of sales via digital channels are unachievable in the current technology environment. Banks must develop a strategic link between digital channels and their ability to support customer experiences that — crucially — result in sales outcomes.

Those banks that flourish will be customer-focused institutions, founded on core software and systems that can deliver better customer experiences as well as increase sales, all via an omni-channel approach.

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