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Automation, excellence and the transformation of client-bank relationships

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Technology is allowing banks to respond to customer requests with increasing precision, despite rising expectations and pressures on time ‒ but excellent service demands something more.



Tanguy Aumon,
Client marketing officer and chief client officer, global banking & advisory

160x186aurelien-viry  Aurélien Viry,
Head of payments and cash management, global transaction banking

Clients want the world, and more. And why not? Delivering to clients what they need is, after all, our institution’s literal raison d’être. Clients expect, and increasingly demand, levels of reliability, predictability, speed of delivery, transparency and simplicity that were unheard of in our industry before now. How can we respond?

Technology is at the heart of this development, and the rising demands being placed upon existing systems are occurring just as emerging technologies are offering new methods of analysis, customer interaction and processing ‒ advancing the possibility to do ever more and ever better. However, we shouldn’t let technology concerns themselves distract from the fundamentals of satisfying our clients.

Evolution beyond technology

Technology is at the root of so much change in banking; but not everything. It is helping banks to deliver a transformation of the treasurer’s role, for instance, but it is not entirely the cause of it.

As the automation of day-to-day activity grows relentlessly, the corporate treasurer can focus on a more value-added agenda. This is important because the corporate treasurer is faced with addressing increasingly complex issues in increasingly complex organizations, not to mention a rising number of options proposed by a rising number of different market participants. 

On any given day, those tasks could include managing risks in FX, interest rates, liquidity, fraud and cyberattacks, or reducing costs and optimizing the deployment of working capital requirements. Then again, it could be more about scanning the market for opportunities arising from the development of new technology, the changing industry landscape and continuing changes in regulation, or providing financial control with better insight using data analytics. Or, instead, entirely dominated by delivering the company’s strategic roadmap.

While the evolution of technology isn’t behind increasing demands in all of these areas, it certainly plays a role. And while it cannot provide all of the answers to the questions asked of treasurers, it can form part of the support that trusted partnerships, interoperability and the harmonization of standards offer treasurers as they make sense of this complexity. 

"The relationship model – which many might have thought to be outdated – in fact continues to be the key driver for client satisfaction."

What clients want

Client feedback has a central role for anyone looking to succeed in business. In the interests of continuing corporate development, we regularly ask our clients for their feedback using a Net Promoter Score methodology. What clients tell us is not only insightful, but also very different from what many involved in the industry might predict. The results show that while simply executing on demand is important to clients, it is not the be-all and the end-all when it comes to doing an excellent job.

For corporate clients, neither the technology nor the execution, nor indeed the price, is the single dominant factor in great client service. If anything, as counter-intuitive as it might seem, these three components are more often viewed as drivers of dissatisfaction if expectations are not met. 

By contrast, clients tell us that they will recommend their bank to others depending on the bank’s management of their relationship, its ability and willingness to commit and to lend, and its breadth of service, products and geographical footprint – in that order.

The complex truth about service

It is both interesting and paradoxical that in an age of increasing organizational complexity, accelerating change and a growing number of options, our clients tell us that the relationship model – which many might have thought to be outdated – in fact continues to be the key driver for client satisfaction.

Simply put, treasurers tell us that what makes the difference for them is the corporate-to-bank relationship they have with their banking counterparts.

Invest in relationships

Clients need informed and experienced partners who know and understand them – partners who can align human expertise with client-specific issues to introduce the appropriate solutions at the right time. That is what adds true value to the relationship and helps to win trust and market share. 

Organizations are not merely the sum of their machines, their processes and their staff. They are a living, breathing amalgam of demonstrable culture, history, ambition and achievement. By extension, what a client needs from a bank is often a trusted adviser to support them over time and through the entire lifecycle of their organization, including phases of expansion, consolidation and adaptation. 

Evolution of the fittest is being tested and proved in 21st century circumstances of which Charles Darwin could never have dreamt – the financial and corporate world. But by harnessing the rapid evolution of technology to support the fundamentals of banking relationships – which have stood the test of time – we can continue to invest in strengthening the corporate-to-bank relationship far into the future.