How Banks Grow Now

November 20, 2018 • STRATEGY & MANAGEMENT, SPECIAL FEATURES, Finance & Economics, Marketing & Consumers, Delivering Innovation - Accenture Research, Editors' Pick

By Piercarlo Gera, Alessandro Secchi and Luca Gagliardi

Spending on customer loyalty keeps going up, but returns are diminishing. This article will tackle how banks manage and integrate new techniques in keeping up with their customers’ needs and demands in order to maintain ties with their clients and achieve growth simultaneously in the fast-changing times.


Retail banks were severely battered a decade ago when the Great Recession hit. Since then, they’ve done a lot to recover lost ground. And yet profitable growth has often remained conspicuous by its absence. The average operating income growth rate across the top 100 banks globally by total assets was a mere one percent between 2014 and 2017.

Every year, approximately 10 percent of banking revenues shifts to new providers or moves to banks that have had a secondary relationship with customers.

This struggle is linked to the loyalty-focussed growth strategies that still make up a major part of most banks’ go-to-market approach. Banks have traditionally aimed to “lock in” customers by selling them additional products and services, and then making it costly or difficult for them to leave. Also, banks to an extent have been doubling down on loyalty: U.S. credit-card issuers, for example, spent $27 billion on rewards in 2017, compared with $16 billion in 2014. However, customers are increasingly favouring the bank that is most relevant to them in the moment. They are increasingly willing and able to compare offers on the spot. And, when we asked 180 CEOs and 970 C-suite executives in 2017, 69 percent (66 percent for the bank CEOs surveyed) told us that it is harder to gain customer loyalty today than it was three years ago.

In this environment, bank leaders can certainly choose to stay their course. However, every year, approximately 10 percent of banking revenues shifts to new providers or moves to banks that have had a secondary relationship with customers. This represents $192 billion on the table for banks that understand what relevance means for their customers and put their knowledge into practice.

What are the keys to capturing that opportunity? Three imperatives are at the center of the task:

• First, become the trusted financial advisor to each and every one of your individual customers.

• Second, broaden your reach by developing and controlling a bank-based ecosystem in areas such as housing, mobility, entertainment and health care.

• Finally, position yourself as part of one or more of the powerful ecosystems clustered around today’s tech giants.

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About the Authors

(left) Piercarlo Gera ( is global managing director of Distribution and Marketing Services, Financial Services, for Accenture. (middle) Alessandro Secchi ( is a senior principal, offering development lead, with Accenture. (right) Luca Gagliardi ( is a senior principal with Accenture Research.

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