Ensuring safe payment transactions, finance and sustainable wealth management. The essence of the financial sector is still the same and relevant today, in 2030. And trust remains crucial. But some things have changed fundamentally.
Before the age of digital tools, we all regularly visited a bank branch for our payments, investments, loans and insurance needs. Today, in 2030, we no longer do that. Today, we use digital devices to find the best possible financial services, from many specialized service providers.
In this new landscape, banks partly play a different role, in order to guarantee safe payment transactions. Some financial institutions have focused on offering financial commodity products and services from a single app. People choose a service provider according to their trust in the brand and the reviews online.
Payment transactions are so integrated into the products and services offered that they no longer seem to exist autonomously. Behind the scenes, however, there is still a (cyber)secure payment infrastructure. To guarantee this, the financial sector has joined forces with infrastructure players and governments.
CEO Bank J. Van Breda & C°
Trust and wealth
In order to make secure payments, we no longer need a trustworthy person. But we do when it comes to managing our assets. Most people still need a sparring partner to determine an investment strategy for the long term and to stick to it. And there are more and more of them: in 2030, Belgium has a large, wealthy middle class, with SMEs as the backbone of our economy.
That is why some banks have just abandoned the commodities and specialized in their sweet spot with these clients. Bank Van Breda has now done this, more than ever, with specialized services for entrepreneurs and liberal professions. We still help entrepreneurs build up private wealth with part of their professional cash flow. Many clients are still loyal to our brand.
Organizing differently – personally and digitally
Many more people needed a confidant, and this meant that we had to organize ourselves differently, as a bank. For asset advice, we had to switch to a hybrid model, in which every investor can continuously monitor his investments via digital tools, combined with personal advisory sessions at key moments.
The higher the customer segment, the more it is financially feasible to zoom in even further on the customer‘s context, with additional services. At the same time, a great deal of advice and expertise is now no longer reserved solely for customers with large assets. This democratization is possible thanks to digitalization.
Artificial intelligence also supports this. Our customer-entrepreneurs and liberal professions are more often doing self-diagnosis, where AI gives them unimagined financial insight into their business. At the same time, AI helps our financial advisors advise customers more, at the right time. So the entrepreneur and advisor speak to each other less frequently, but more often at crucial moments.
Entrusting assets to a financial institution that offers a slightly higher interest rate is not something you do lightly.
Some types of loans are considered commodities, where the relationship of trust plays less of a role, certainly if the financing requirement is rather basic and the collateral position is reasonably clear. Although the traditional banking model, in which we guarantee that savings deposits are safe at all times, is still a strong, watertight lever for providing very large volumes of financing.
With loans for professionals, the relationship of trust remains very important. An entrepreneur must be able to count on a banker in good and bad times, also for financing. Someone you don‘t have to tell the whole story to every time new credit is required, and who continues to support you as a long-term partner.
Driving towards a sustainable society
Through their financing, banks have also helped, in recent years, to make our society more sustainable. For example, we were ready with new types of loans for insulating homes. The financial sector also played an important role by inspiring their customers to invest in energy renovation, by taking into account, not only the recurrent savings on the energy invoice, but also the impact on the future price that owners or their children will receive when selling the parental home.
At the same time, banks are playing a leading role today through sustainable investments, because that is what investors require. However, sustainability is more than it was in 2022. Sustainable investment is now investing in companies that have sustainable relationships with all their stakeholders: not just the planet, but also customers, suppliers, employees and society in general.
After all, more than ever, this is the reason why people come to work for us. Today, they choose an employer with a positive impact on the world. Namely, a banker who helps make dreams come true, protects assets and facilitates sustainability.
About the interviewee
Dirk Wouters has had a long career at Bank J. Van Breda & C°. He started there in 1993 as a tax expert. He then worked as a private banker until 1998, as a sector manager for SMEs until 2002 and, from 2003, as a member of the executive committee, responsible for payments, investments, ALM, loans and reporting. Dirk Wouters has chaired the executive committee since 2014. Currently, he is also vice-president of Febelfin.
30 Voices on 2030: The new reality for financial services
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