Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Why banks will have to change to remain relevant

This is a blog that I wanted to write some time ago after having read an interview with Don Callahan, Chief Technology and Operations Officer at Citi. (Read here). In the article he discusses the learning curves that the bank had in working with the Google Wallet team. He highlighted the learnings (difficulties) that the bank had to keep up with the rate of development and innovation from Google. Quite interestingly, he shared his frustration as a client of the bank that he is an executive of. He indicated that he need a more integrated view of his financial position as a client of Citi.
This was quite insightful to me. While the executives of the bank could actually identify client needs accurately, they seem powerless to change it. (The fact that they had difficulty keeping up with the development of the Google Wallet may give some clues to why). The overhead, cost and sheer effort of keeping everything running as it is in big banks consume so much resource and management time, that it is just not possible to change things. And if it gets changed, it takes a long time. We all know this about banks.
The problem is that if banks are confronted with an inflection point, where the environment is going to change at a massive rate, or when they are confronted with more nimble competitors, they might not be able to respond. If this is not going to happen in the future, banks have nothing to fear as they would be able to just carry on as they are used to do, but....

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