November 25, 2012 11:23 pm

Vital relationship bankers forgot

From Mr Michael Ruckman.

Sir, I enjoyed Michael Skapinker’s article “Banks, your customers have left you behind” (November 8). As a consultant in the banking industry, I am consistently confronted with bankers who lack a clear understanding of what their customers really desire from the relationship. As a result, most banks have rendered themselves irrelevant in the day-to-day relationships they have with their customers.

Add the advances in self-service banking technologies during the past decade, and it becomes easier for most customers to serve themselves than try to extract any relevance and/or meaning from the ongoing contacts with their banks.

No wonder the banking industry is in peril. Bankers have forgotten a vital piece of the equation: the quality of relationships with their customers. As a result, banks have forgotten how to earn honest money from their customers for a job well done. 100 years ago, a banker was a respected member of a community and was valued based on how well he/she helped people to solve problems, improve quality of life, and realise goals. Today, the average banking customer wouldn’t dream of expecting this from their banker.

Even with all of today’s technology, bankers should not lose sight of their role in the community. Customers that are engaged in mutually beneficial relationships with their bank are more likely gradually to consolidate their financial life into one banking relationship which will bring lower risk and higher profits for that bank. What banker, in their right mind, would turn down these results?

Possibly, the infusion of the investment banking culture, with the short-sighted need to generate quick and easy returns, has caused retail bankers to forget the value that they can bring to an individual or community as a result of the long-term relationship. Banks that have turned to sneaky, backroom tactics to generate a profit for shareholders versus managing profitable and meaningful relationships with customers have caused and continue to drive the problems in the banking industry today.

Michael Ruckman, Senteo Incorporated, Henderson, NV, US

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