Meeting changing customer demands in a digital age

For any large multinational corporate, the relationship it has with its banks is more than purely transactional. Banks are a partner as much as a service provider, and they are journeying through the turbulence of digital disruption together.

At EuroFinance 2015, our incoming CEO Casper von Koskull discussed with Christian Luiga, SVP & CFO at TeliaSonera AB, how the digital future is affecting the relationship between corporates and their banks. The discussion, facilitated by Paul Jenkins of McKinsey & Company, gives a valuable insight into how any large organisation can achieve greater success as they negotiate their digital transformations.

“How do we as a treasury help our end customers? If you don’t know that — you’d better figure it out!”

TeliaSonera has 70 million customers in 15 countries, and is one of the world’s leading telecommunication operators, meaning it is heavily involved in delivering digital services itself. It’s no surprise that TeliaSonera’s view of digitalisation centres on how its customer expectations are shifting, and it looks to its banks to help support it as it responds to those changes. As CFO, Christian asks banks to take a more open dialogue with their customers, to demonstrate a digital strategy, and to take a new role in the service ecosystem as a facilitator of partnerships.

“We need to change the fundamental engine of the bank.”

For Nordea’s part, Casper is in complete agreement with what customers like TeliaSonera are asking for in the digital age. Banks need to be easy to deal with and available anywhere, anytime. But answering those requests is no easy task, and the whole industry needs to change, both technically and in terms of underlying business processes and structures. Nordea is more than 18 months through that change, simplifying systems and implementing new platforms along with establishing new partnerships and relationships across the finance ecosystem. But it’s important for banks to continue to maintain their reputation for competence and trust. The service that banks provide is critical.

Looking ahead to the future, Christian sees banks being able to help corporates in a few key areas. The first is trust and security — a traditional area of strength for banks, but one that becomes critical when so much sensitive data is online. Analytics of payment and other data from financial flows will also be an important area for service innovation. Finally, the future bank is there to help integrate and put the pieces together, particularly working with new entrants to the market.

“Part of our vision is to be both personal and digital.”

While digitalisation is often seen as being about automation and self-service, Christian believes there is a role still for the traditional bank relationship manager. And that remains a core part of Nordea’s vision. In fact, the automation that digital tools enable can help free up relationship managers’ time to focus on what customers need help with now: advice, integration, partnerships, and innovation. Unless a bank has the personal touch to go along with the digitalisation, it cannot be the competent, relevant and trusted partner that corporates are looking for today.

“The only thing that is constant in our business is change.”

Looking ahead, TeliaSonera has set up its own “Future Team” focused on areas like big data analytics and customer identity management, to ensure that the business stays agile and can pursue new opportunities. For its part, Nordea has established a number of internal innovation teams too. But it has also looked to the wider ecosystem for inspiration: holding hackathons in partnership with IBM, inviting customers to try out new concepts in an Idea Lab, and sponsoring a startup accelerator. But ideas aren’t enough: they must be aligned to a vision for the future supported by strong leadership and an understanding of what customers need.

Watch the full discussion (26 minutes) below.

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