Trusted advisor – the right role for Banks?


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A recent study of corporate banking showed how low corporate clients rate their banks as trusted advisors. In his popular Financial Services Club blog, Chris Skinner highlighted this study. He pointed out that while in consumer markets we might accept this as normal, in corporate markets the finding comes as something of a surprise.

This made me wonder whether banks should be striving for a position as “trusted advisor”, whether in consumer or corporate markets, given the weightiness of the word. When you call someone a trusted advisor, it puts them in a difficult position. In financial services, it may even imply that they understand your needs fully and that they might even put your needs before theirs.

My view is that the idea of a bank as a trusted advisor is an interesting aspiration, but I think that we should not use it to guide relationship management policy. I would much rather focus precisely on the components of a bank’s proposition and specific aspects of how it manages its relationship with customers.

I agree with Chris that corporates want their issues, concerns, business environment, operations and challenges understood, and that it’s great when a bank manages to do that. However, whether it’s realistic to expect banks to do this is another matter. In many – though not all – diagnostic relationships, it’s better to ask the recipient of a service to diagnose their own needs more precisely and express them to suppliers concisely, so suppliers can work out what products and services the customer needs. Sometimes, the supplier’s best role is to provide the tools for diagnosis, not to do the diagnosis themselves. Even the greatest management consultants can make false diagnoses of customer requirements. Should we expect bankers to be better, for corporate or consumers?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Merlin Stone
Professor Merlin Stone is Research Director at The Customer Framework. He is a leading expert in customer management, including customer recruitment, retention and development. His work focuses on improving customer experience, satisfaction, loyalty and trust, and also customer research, data analysis, systems decisions and supplier management needed to support improved management of customers. He is well known for conference speaking and thought leadership research.


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