Thoughts on a conference: Retail Banking 2014
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14 March 2014
I’ve just spent an extraordinarily useful day at a banking conference, Source Media’s Retail Banking 2014, in Orlando (http://www.americanbanker.com/conferences/retail/). Great sessions and great attendees (plus the chance to get out of Boston’s snow) made the journey worthwhile. Many of the memes of the day (in no particular order, and with no claims to exhaustiveness) reinforced the views that Celent has been talking about over the course of the last year. Attendees were extremely interested in branch optimization. The sessions that I attended were standing room only; the other tracks on Digital Banking and Innovations in Banking were not. Every banker mentioned customer-centricity within 30 seconds of beginning their presentation. Spurred by the realization that they need to up their game (see the next point), banks are beginning to reformulate strategies by putting the customer front and center. Other industries are posing a threat to banks. Apple, Google, and Amazon, together with a host of smaller new entrants, have begun to be recognized as a credible threat by mainstream bankers, not just financial futurists. Some banks doubt that they’ll be able to compete, and we’d agree – IF they don’t do anything differently from how they’re doing it now. Simplicity and Focus are critical for banks going forward. They’ve been used by new entrants to attack banks’ weak spots; incumbents must respond by being easy to work with and by concentrating on what differentiates them. There was great energy throughout the day; let’s hope that banks continue it over the coming year.