Understanding tomorrow's client relationships

22/09/2020

While the main challenge for bankers at the beginning of the century was to differentiate themselves from their competitors, it has evolved much further ever since. Today, they are expected to remain by their clients’ side in all circumstances, to support them on a daily basis.

The crisis has placed even stronger emphasis on the unfailing support in any relationship between a banker and his clients. The challenge now lies in reconciling the digitalisation of banking services with the proximity of close relationships. These two concepts are diametrically opposed, since digitalisation means "dematerialisation" of exchanges and therefore less human interaction. However, the difference between banks of the same category is going to depend on the support and the human relations that they will be able to build and develop with their customers.

This proximity is at the heart of Societe Generale's mission, as is innovation, in which we invest every year in order to look to the future and enable our customers to do so as well. These two values, to which we are historically attached, are also strengths that differentiate us in the banking sector. Even though our clients could choose another bank for a similar product, they choose us for the relationship of trust we establish with them.

“ Trust is not innate. It must be built and nurtured over the long term, based on our expertise and proximity. ”

At a time when a pandemic is hardly affecting our social interactions, maintaining interpersonal relations between bankers and clients, based on trust, has never seemed more essential to us. Although trust cannot be dematerialised, it is the foundation that holds companies and banks together, and the crisis has once again forced both parties to seek innovative solutions to maintain it. The role of the banker, once a facilitator and administrator of banking services, has been transformed. As the time that was traditionally devoted to administration has been optimised, there is much more room for the maintenance of trust.

Towards an APIsation of the relationship


API era is clearly a turning point for treasurers and an opportunity for banks. By opening their systems to new entrants, both internal or external, banks begin to gain the agility they lacked for historical reasons. APIs are pushing banks to evolve quickly and are accelerating access to dematerialisation. This is what happened within Societe Generale during lockdown with the implementation of the electronic signature service for mandates in record time. As a result, many services that allow us to continue to serve our clients with cash management solutions have been launched in recent months.

Agility and ubiquity are now expected by everyone and for everything, and will be at the heart of the next phase of the revolution in our industry. While technology is the cornerstone of access to banking information, the objective must not be limited to a simple collection of innovations (instant payments, SWIFT gpi, APIs, virtual accounts). It must be part of the corporate treasury and banking ecosystem by developing new services and rethinking existing cash pooling structures and tools.

Banks are investing unprecedented amounts in improving cash management tools at a time when new technologies will change the way treasurers and bankers manage their liquidity, offering treasurers what they have always wanted: a 360-degree, accurate view of their cash position.

But despite all the hype about artificial intelligence, robotics and algorithms, I still believe that only personal and interpersonal relationships can provide a high-quality experience for our customers. While technology contributes significantly to providing solutions, the expertise and relationship between us bankers and our clients remain the key to providing the right investments and advice to help them adopt effective solutions that create value. 

Now more than ever, it is our job to develop relationships.  To develop solutions. Times and tools are changing. Services and solutions evolve. But one element remains absolutely the same: trust. And trust cannot be dematerialised.

 

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