August 2011 - Banking Newsletter
A Message from West Monroe Partners
Date : August 9, 2011
Banks must focus on all areas of business in order to succeed: technology solutions, back office operations, strategic growth strategies and the right approach to customer experience. Has your bank determined what areas you need to improve to thrive in today's environment?

In this newsletter, we share insights on select topics that represent banking industry priorities. Based on work we’ve completed with many of our banking clients, articles included range from growth strategies in Small Business banking, to customer experience transformation, and succeeding in M&A execution.

As always, banking technology continues to be top of mind, and is covered in this newsletter with an article addressing the future of IT at medium-size banks. Recently, we hosted 32 senior banking leaders for a discussion on technology priorities to enable business objectives. We learned that 89% of the participants were focused on efficiency and cost of the IT function, 38% were seeking to evaluate at least one core business technology application in the next three months to facilitate growth, and 24% were interested in customer experience and CRM. All expressed focus on transformation rather than incremental improvements.

Please do not hesitate to contact me directly if you would like more information on the articles below or other Banking topics.

Gil Mermelstein
Managing Director, Co-Leader, Banking Practice

As the face of technology in banking continues to change, are small and medium-sized banks’ technology departments morphing into vendor management functions or disappearing? Many banks already look to vendors to provide key technology applications and as the trend spreads to hosted infrastructure, there are significant consequences for the bank’s technology department and the key functions that will need to be retained or extended to ensure success.
In highly regulated, commoditized industries, the best way to differentiate is to provide a consistent, effortless customer experience. This is evident in the financial services industry, where Forrester Research declared customer experience as “one of the key skills for survival”.
Just a year or so ago, many small businesses were feeling the significant impact of the financial services meltdown. This impact all too often came in the form of unreliable or shrinking sources of credit or a disruption in access to financial services. This disruption frequently resulted from changes in bank personnel or perhaps failure of the bank. In response to this, many small businesses feel the need to diversify their banking relationships to avoid being left “high and dry” in the future.
According to the Harvard Business Review, 70%-90% of attempted mergers and acquisitions fail to achieve their envisioned benefits. While this daunting statistic spans all industries and relates to many factors, a key factor for banks is the effectiveness of the integration planning and execution process. In particular, banks that bulk-up need to plan for greater business and operations complexity.
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