By 2030, the banking industry will have realized that it was going in the wrong direction, both in its race for size and in its management and customer service. Small, specialized, flexible and collaborative structures are thriving.

We are at the end of the decade and the industry has realized that it cannot continue on the path of the first quarter century. That it can no longer ignore customer complaints and the many warnings, especially when 40% of the SMEs said in 2022 that they were ready to change banks.

Specialization and collaboration

In terms of strategy, the mad dash for size is over. The sector has understood that it was not inevitable, but rather the result of the desire of many players to control everything: compliance services, IT systems, etc. Banks have realized that their added value does not lie in their software, but in the service they provide to their clients. 

Etienne de Callataÿ

Etienne de Callataÿ

CEO Orcadia Asset Management

The time has come to outsource to external suppliers and to collaborate with competitor-partners who share the same issues and challenges, breaking with the tradition of denigration of the past.

Furthermore, the sector is realizing that specialization is meaningful and a source of value creation for all stakeholders. This context favors the emergence of small structures that manage to attract talent thanks to a better working environment. Everyone knows each other and everyone is listened to when sharing tasks.

Respectful HR management

More generally, the entire sector has finally modernized its HR practices. In the early 2020s, the rhetoric was still too often, hiding management strategies inspired by the 1980s.

Today, this is no longer acceptable. The entire sector has realized that the well-being of employees is vital for a company. Those employees are not necessarily looking to work less, but above all to give meaning to their work, to be respected. The German political party, SPD, had already shown in 2021 that insisting on the word „respect“ could win elections.

The banks have also become aware of the damage caused by certain practices, such as individual bonuses. Every bonus creates a lot of resentment. And even those who receive a (substantial) bonus are not necessarily more satisfied or productive as a result. To be creative and dare to innovate, we need protection and trust.

Within teams, diversity is a given. There are still a few traces of the white male domination of the past in the upper hierarchy, but it is only a matter of time. Most employees today are Millenials and Gen Xers for whom gender, skin color, sexual orientation or social origins are a non-issue.

Sincere customer service

Respect is also the watchword toward customers. Banks have realized that their digital services were still very basic in the early 2020s: they did not offer the necessary usability and the technology barrier too often felt like an impassable wall.

Customers want to keep the possibility of talking to a person, to be listened to and respected when they have a problem or a specific request rather than sailing from menu to menu.

This availability obviously comes at a cost, but pricing models have begun to evolve. Yves Delacolette, of the Deutsche Bank, showed the way more than twenty years ago, by raising account fees and passbook rates at the same time. 

The Tesla of banking

Of course, my vision is undoubtedly influenced by the success of Orcadia, and the banker of 2022 could object that even if they are dissatisfied, customers change banks relatively little. But the customers of 2030 are not quite the same as those of 2022 and legislation has facilitated banking mobility, in particular with the abolition of the 1.32% TOB (tax on stock market transactions) on the sale of Sicavs (investment companies with variable capital).

Clients are more attentive to the sincerity of ESG commitments and costs. In asset management, institutions charging 80 basis points or 1.5% management fees are now at a disadvantage. Especially since the Tesla of banking has shown that the barriers to entry in the banking sector are no more insurmountable than in the automotive sector.

About the interviewee

Etienne de Callataÿ has been one of Belgium‘s leading economists for over 20 years. Having woked at the National Bank of Belgium and the International Monetary Fund, he was Chief Economist of the former Bank Degroof from 1999 to 2015. In 2016, he co-founded Orcadia Asset Management, a manager focused on responsible investment. In addition to the financial world, Etienne is also very involved in society, active in the academic world (University of Namur and UCL) and with associations, such as Les Petits Riens.

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30 Voices on 2030: The new reality for financial services

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