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Friday, November 22, 2013

Business Bankers: Your Clients Don’t Trust You

By Beth Youra

This post is part of Gallup's ongoing series on the shifting landscape for financial institutions. It provides insights into channel optimization, emerging customer behaviors and preferences, product penetration and relationship growth, engaging the most critical affluent and business customers, and reshaping banks' overall value proposition.

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Ask most Business Banking executives how they would describe their ideal Relationship Managers (RMs) and you will hear things like “advisers to their clients,” “standout sales performers,” “relationship builders,” and “experts on their clients’ needs.” All these phrases evoke the idea of a partnership built on trust and mutual respect. If this were consistently true, one would speculate that when looking for advice on the day-to-day financial management of their companies, CEOs and financial executives would be turning to their RMs in droves, and they would trust the counsel they are given.

However, Gallup’s 2013 Business Banking Industry study found that this is often not the reality. As one would expect, accountants top the list of those most used for financial advice (88%) and those most trusted for financial advice (55%). For RMs, it’s a so-so story. Only 46% of executives look to their RMs for advice, which puts this group behind not only accountants, but also behind other business owners, professional organizations, and lawyers. RMs are doing slightly better when it comes to trust, ranking third behind accountants and lawyers. But still, just 31% of executives say they trust their RMs.

This all begs the question -- what should your RMs do to increase trust with their clients? The answer is actually simple -- they need to perform more high-level, high-value activities that relate to how executives run their businesses, not just how they relate to the bank. For example, 71% of RMs who are strongly trusted by their clients work to connect them with potential suppliers and customers. Conversely, just 21% of RMs who clients say they are extremely satisfied with, but don’t trust, perform this activity.

The execution of these types of activities can be difficult. To do any of them well, RMs need to understand not just how their client uses their bank for financial products and services, but also their client’s industry, competitive pressures, supply chain, and customer base. Therefore, before a RM can do something like connect a client with new suppliers or customers, they must have an intensive level of knowledge about that client and access to an extensive network.

But, at the end of the day, your RMs need to focus on building trust with their clients, because it will win you more business. While business optimism may be slowly increasing, it is still a challenging environment for many companies. Ignoring soft skills and not going “above and beyond” the normal call of duty isn’t an option for banks if they want to remain competitive with their business clients.


Anonymous said...
December 13, 2013 at 2:19 AM  

I thought the more interesting point is that Financial Executives trust "Other business owners" only 23%. An astonishingly low number. It is unclear whether this is referring to other executives or third party or corporate owners? It might be interesting to know what was meant by this question and how it differs by different types of other business owners.

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