Could Circumstances Force At Least One Mega-Bank to Go Outside-In?


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Companies switch to Outside-In – the fusion of customer-centric planning with enabling, customer-driven process – for one of two reasons: some, like Best Buy, see market opportunity and want to pounce; others, like UPS, have guns held to their heads, in the UPS case a double-barreled shotgun named “Fed-X.”

Considering their management culture, I doubt any of our mega-banks will make an opportunistic move towards customer-centric, Outside-In. However, could at least one be forced to risk such radical change?

Citi is in a tight spot, but its solution appears to be “firing” most of their retail customers to focus on business banking. Legal walls are falling inward on BofA, which will faces civil suits, including one from the SEC, and could very well face criminal charges by the state of NY. BofA also owns a huge portfolio of bad commercial real estate loans that have only begun to default, as does Wells Fargo.

Further, just this week consumers finally flexed their muscles and forced BofA, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo to reel back in draconian, customer-abusive over-draft charges – indicating fee revenues have topped out and will likely be forced further downward by consumer backlash (as in, let’s try a credit union or a community bank with minimal fees).

Can you imagine any large bank reversing field and going Inside-Out – putting customers in the center of its business circle?

(Let’s ignore all the promotional hype about “customer-friendly” Ally. What was formerly GMAC is not full service and is only offering attractive deposit rates with “no fees” to raise new capital so it can continue lending).


  1. Dick – great question. But I guess it is wishful thinking. If any bank moves, I guess it is a small one. If you ever had the “pleasure” to deal with a bank on executive level you see a few undeniable characteristics:
    – A bank executive calls himself “conservative” but at the end it is nothing but “anxiety”.
    – To came up the ranks in a bank – you need to understand the system. There is zero room for innovation – let alone new thinking. You MUST be a lemming in order to get to the top.
    – Banks are woven into a convoluted web of law, SEC rules, investors influence, industry influence, the customer influence is just next to zero. How can a bank break out – who are the drivers? Impossible.
    – Even if one would try, it would stumble and fall in its own complexity.
    – Just think of this:
    US banks perform almost every single transaction manually. While Europe and Asia is long on electronic banking – US banks aren’t. Yes, I do “electronic banking” but every transaction causes to cut a physical check that is sent by post. Millions every day. This is ridiculous – yet nobody is able to stop it. The web is too convoluted. And that would be JUST a technical improvement, even with a huge monetary incentive. Now we are talking customer relationship development? Sorry – smile – can’t believe it’s happening.



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