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RETAIL BANKING | Staff Reporter, Malaysia
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Bain & Company's Gwendolyn Lim shares her framework for redesigning the future's banks

Improved economics, personalised customer experience, and enhanced employee engagement are keys to sustainability.

Gwendolyn Lim, a founding member of Bain Southeast Asia’s financial services practice, currently leads the company’s customer strategy & marketing practice which covers how firms can identify, engage, and retain their most loyal customers. She has been in management consulting for over 15 years, with extensive experience across the Asia Pacific and the US. She has also worked in leading financial hubs like New York, Hong Kong and Shanghai.

In an interview with Asian Banking & Finance, Lim gives us a preview to her upcoming session at this year’s Retail Banking Forum in Kuala Lumpur.

What were the previous experiences and positions you've held that contributed to who you are as a banker/expert today?

My work has stretched across multinational corporation (MNC), regional and local banking champions, and I have also worked with investment firms, which are significant shareholders in banks. For the past few years, I have focused on how to help banks engage in transformations in their retail and corporate divisions in the face of rapidly evolving customer expectations, regulatory changes, digital innovations and the rise of new and traditional competitors.

What are the key business philosophies of future-ready banks?

  • Future-ready, sustainable banks should be aiming to deliver the trifecta of improved economics, leading customer experience and enhanced employee engagement – if any one of the three is missing, the bank will ultimately not thrive.
  • The bank’s objectives have to be balanced (and not overly weighted only on digital) across the following:
    • Revenue and sales growth
    • Customer experience
    • Efficiency and productivity
    • Digitalisation and modernisation
    • Risk and compliance

Can you give us a glimpse of what you will share at the ABF Retail Banking Forum?

  • In 5 to 7 years from now, we see the following key trends occurring:
    • Money will move differently (cash continues declining; digital payments becoming ubiquitous).
    • Customer experiences will be expected to be easy, safe and highly personalised.
    • Financial advice will be virtual and high quality.
    • Platforms and ecosystems will be winning.
    • Employees will be flexible and tough to hold on to with a traditional employment model.
    • Technology will be a critical enabler.
  • In this environment, the branch of the future will look dramatically different from today’s, and the following eight principles should be considered:
    • Experiential environment but a simple consultative environment
    • Digital embedded into the branch
    • Deep personalisation of sales and servicing
    • Diverse, flexible formats
    • Specialised skill set depending on the catchment area
    • Highly skilled staff
    • Perceptual projection of scale via personalised customer experience
    • Virtual connections to other parts of the bank as needed
  • To pull off the new branch of the future, key aspects which will have to be redesigned are as follows:
    • Sales and service mode
    • Branch format
    • Optimised footprint
    • People
    • Operations and technology

The 2019 Retail Banking Forum - Roadshow Series will take place on 2, 8, 14 and 16 May in Manila, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok. To learn more about the event, click here. To register, click here. For inquiries, you may contact Andrea at andrea@charltonmediamail.com or at +65 3158 1386 ext 212.

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