Study sees opportunities in the collapse of banking secrecy

Banks belonging to retailers like Migros have an advantage when it comes to collecting "big data" Keystone

As many as 40 Swiss private banks could disappear in the changing banking landscape, predicts a study released on Thursday. Banks that want to survive should concentrate on using “big data” to provide clients with individualised service and advice, it found.

This content was published on April 16, 2015 and agencies

The end of banking secrecy for customers in key foreign markets and restrictions due to the financial crisis have turned the industry inside out, said the study. The transformation process is still only in the beginning stages and the challenges banks face are major – even existential.

The study, conducted by accountancy firm KPMG and the University of St Gallen, was based on a survey of nearly 50 private and cantonal banks. Ninety percent of them believed that  knowing the customers’ habits and preferences would make it easier for them to woo customers by offering tailor-made products.

There is no time to lose, according to KPMG board member Philipp Rickert. Banks that take action can succeed in the future, despite, or perhaps because of, stricter regulatory requirements, he said.

Retailers like Migros and Coop, which also have banking branches, have abundant experience in the collection of data related to customer behavior and preferences, according to KPMG’s Hans Stamm. Retail banks like Postfinance or the cantonal banks also have an advantage.

With digitalisation, the role of customer service representative will  be redefined, said Stamm. In addition to wanting access to information around the clock, bank customers want personal contact. The customer service agent will become a sort of “mini family officer” who knows his clients and takes time for them.

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