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Only One in 10 Banks Succeed in Being a ‘Trusted Advisor’
February 8, 2012
I delivered a presentation at the Association of Corporate Treasurer’s (ACT) conference on the relationship between corporate treasurers and their bank advisor called: Corporate-to-Bank Relationships: Brilliant or Broken? The ACT used the title of this presentation as a question in the interactive voting at the start of the day, and the results were interesting: 7% of treasurers thought their relationship was brilliant; 24% thought the relationship was broken, whilst the majority, 69%, felt it was purely ‘surviving’.
This tallies with the survey we performed last autumn which asked the question: since the financial crisis began in 2008, how have relationships with corporate users changed?
In that survey, the majority of respondents (46%) say that it’s about the same but over a third (35%) say that it is worse, with 27% of bankers and 38% of non-bankers stating that this is the case.
In this case 15% felt it was better; 50% thought it was about the same; whilst 35% thought it was worse.
In particular, corporates are looking for bank providers who understand their issues, concerns and specifically their business environment, operations and challenges, and the best bank providers understand these areas as well as the treasurer understands them.
A truly great corporate to bank relationship is one where the bank partner is seen as a trusted advisor, giving best advice and behaving as a real partner, not just a transaction processor. The ‘trusted advisor’ is a status achieved by few, but aspired to by many, and is all about the ability to earn the client's trust and thereby win the ability to influence them.
Many banks want to be a trusted advisor to their corporate client and, if they achieve that, then the relationship is based in the boardroom and is based completely upon trust in the bank provider’s advice.
While banks and other financial institutions should be in an enviable position to be a trusted advisor, particularly those who are primary savings institutions, most have not earned this distinction. Many FIs are considered merely a transaction processor or sales channel for savings and loan products, but are not yet considered an impartial advocate for advisory services.
As some FIs move up the value chain in customers’ minds, they will begin forging stronger relationships that will allow them to speak to higher-level customer needs. This may indeed put them in a position to become a trusted advisor.
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