Quick Q&A on relationship management

With 20 years’ experience in customer relationship and product management, Marc Salinas brings experience and real-world insights to his role at Bottomline Technologies. His responsibilities include Digital Banking IQ Relationship Management and Insights, key components of Bottomline’s intelligent engagement solution for banking and wealth management.

How are relationship manager responsibilities changing across the bank?

Financial institutions are seeing an acceleration of trends that began before 2020 as well as a host of new opportunities and challenges. In a world of reduced branch traffic and even drive-thru lending, retail teams are reimagining processes and rebalancing resources overnight. On the commercial side, there’s increased adoption of virtual engagement. That’s helping relationship managers interact more frequently and with a broader cross-section of the client organization that may now include increased access to the management team plus attorneys and accountants. Ongoing consolidation in wealth management is giving many acquired advisors access to new deposit, lending, and other banking solutions to serve a broader set of client needs.

What shifts in customer expectations are helping drive these changes?

Commercial clients provide a great example of how changing needs and expectations can create big opportunities for financial institutions that are prepared to seize them. Many small businesses and mid-market clients put their banking relationships to the test this past spring when they quickly migrated to online services and navigated a very fluid Paycheck Protection Program process. Now, they are showing a new openness to working with the FIs who were most able to guide them through those changes and to execute. In many cases, these clients are disregarding historical considerations around which bank they work with such as how close they are to the nearest branch. We’re seeing this new emphasis on consultative engagement and end-to-end execution play out in other areas, as well.

How are banks changing their approach to managing customer relationships?

Many financial institutions are focusing on user experience. And I don’t just mean the technical side of user experience, but the multi-channel experience in the broadest sense. They’re redesigning not only their digital interactions, but also their overall customer journeys across all touchpoints. This requires better information sharing and handoffs between technology platforms. It also requires improved collaboration among relationship management and support teams, which may now be more physically remote. FIs are also investing in self-service as well as the introduction of new consultative client experiences. They are finding new ways to pull intelligence out of their data and to guide clients in ways they couldn’t a year ago.

What relationship blind spots do financial institutions typically struggle with?

A current and a complete view of the overall scope and current performance of each relationship has never been more critical, particularly for complex and inter-related primary banking relationships that can span deposits, lending, wealth and commercial. This includes improving collaboration with organizations like marketing, the contact center, onboarding and other teams that have historically been siloed.

FIs also need context to help them understand and navigate the rapid and unprecedented changes that have occurred this year, including how their experience compares to that of similar institutions. Both executives and relationship managers need timely and actionable intelligence to separate client-specific risk indicators from macro-level shifts in online engagement and transaction patterns across the broader portfolio, for example.

How can technology help address these challenges?

Financial institutions simply can’t expect to win using February’s relationship management playbook. They must understand how clients are engaging today and to embrace and act on those changes even more quickly. Artificial intelligence and machine learning play a key role in tracking changes in how clients are using banking services now. Financial institutions also need a simple and intuitive way to share that intelligence across their client-facing teams and directly with clients.

Omni-channel engagement is another big key. Six months past the onset of COVID-19, we’re seeing what now appear to be lasting changes in commercial online engagement, for example. In addition, digital account-opening volumes remain 20 percent higher than last year, and that growth includes applicants that wouldn’t consider going online before. Clients increasingly expect the personalized, frictionless engagement they get from other relationships outside of banking. Financial institutions that deliver the intelligent, end-toend solutions that customers are looking for will be the ultimate winners.

Sponsored content by Bottomline Technologies. Marc Salinas can be reached at [email protected]