A FutureBrand survey, conducted among marketers, claims there is a lack of innovation in the retail banking sector. Do you think the industry is in need of redefining itself and, if so, how?
Technical banking itself is not fundamentally innovative. The formula is quite static. What you have to do is work on the service side. There are roles for mutuals as well as start-ups, like Zopa, which is a brilliant idea. The UK is a mature market, so innovation needs to be very clever. Whizz-bang stuff is probably not what we’re after. You just have to look at what Barclays is doing with wealth to see that we do not lack innovation.
Tony Allen, Chief executive officer, Fortune Street (pictured top)
At present, there is a lack of design innovation in retail banking, especially in the UK. This is particularly noticeable if you compare what British banks are doing with those in Continental Europe, Canada and the Middle East. The good news is that because banks have been so efficient at migrating customers to alternative channels, they are not actually seeing their customers any more. This means that they now have to use retail design techniques to encourage customers to come bank to the branch and to make the experience an exciting and enjoyable one.
Michael Allen, Chairman, Allen International
As on-line banking gets more advanced, more personal and more mainstream, I can see the writing on the wall of the high street branch. Retail branches have stagnated for some time now and I see them disappearing entirely, perhaps to be replaced by financial service supermarkets in a similar vein to Carphone Warehouse, where rates are competitive, product choice is huge and service is informed and personal.
Dana Robertson, Creative director, Identica
These days marketing briefs drive our financial services, with a need for high-impact, low-cost solutions. This should liberate designers to apply more lateral thinking, but is the financial sector ready? Our work has shown us that there is a real need and desire for banks to start acting as retailers. This will only be possible if banks review internal operating procedures and traditional delivery channels, to create environments that provide real value to customers. The industry will be redefined, but only if there is a willingness to challenge the assumptions that prevent it from embracing innovative design solutions.
Sam D’Lacey, Managing director, Hart D’Lacey (pictured)