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My client trusts me… trusts me not… Swiss banks’ digital strategy heartache

Christine Mar Ciriani Tuesday, 27 January 2015.

Digital and mobile banking are the next big thing according to advisors and clients. But is it really where Swiss banks want to go? And should it be their priority? What clients expect from a Swiss private bank is security and discretion. They want a trusted relationship with their advisor and confidence that their wealth is safe and discretely protected. In this sense, digital can be a threat and must be handled with care. Rushing into it may pose risks to security and undermine that vital element of the client -bank partnership – trust.

What should a Swiss bank's digital strategy involve?
The high level target is clear. A digital strategy must reinforce all the positive reasons why a client chose a bank in the first place - assuming you have the 'why' figured out. But when it comes to the next level, digital strategies risk opening a Pandora's box. Banks need to look carefully at what advisors want, what clients believe they want and what clients actually need. Analysing this 'love triangle' and turning it into a clear roadmap is a profound challenge.

Digital strategies must help private banks better understand and serve their clients
Let's take a look at how other industries address this challenge.

- Cool design is a popular approach - enhancing the look and feel without modifying the content. The result? Great effect with little investment.
- Trial and error is another alternative. Build multiple apps at low cost and test them with end users. Keep the successful one and discard the rest.
- Keep it simple. Successful solutions are disruptive but not complex. Clients will only use digital if it makes their lives easier.
- Keep it relevant. Tapping your device to pay may be the best thing since sliced bread, but what use is it to a private client?

There is more to be learned from other industries, particularly in the apps and big data space, where Amazon, Google and Apple are setting trends. Assimilating client behaviour and choices data will help banks better understand and serve client needs.

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From strategy to implementation
The path to digital is based on collaboration and paradigm change. It is clear that other industries are a step ahead in the digital domain. This should be perceived as an opportunity. A myriad of financial technology companies has been created in the last decade - potential partners for banks to make their digital strategies a success.

Innovation through digital doesn't need to involve complex setup, security risks, huge data needs and high back-end architecture costs. Its benefits? For both advisors and clients it can bring enhanced access to information, improved processes, compliance and communication.

"A loyal wealthy client seeks a reliable Swiss bank. Must be fit for 21st century..."
Swiss private banks are putting remediation behind them and concentrating on opportunities ahead. True to Swiss nature, they are focused on trust, security, discretion and precision. Their digital strategies must reinforce those values, not disrupt them.

This article has been republished from the Capco.com blog. Read more Capco articles here.

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 Christine Mar Ciriani

Christine Mar Ciriani

Christine Mar Ciriani is a Capco Partner based in the Geneva office. She leads the company's Wealth and Investment Management capabilities across Europe. With over a decade and a half of experience, Christine has particular expertise in operational strategy, process efficiency, and delivering complex change projects for global investment and private banks.

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