Four takeaways from our Bank Insider Panel with executives from BMO Financial Group, M&T Bank, and First Horizon Bank

  • Insider Intelligence kicked off its second Bank Insider Panel on October 15.
  • The panel featured exclusive data and a conversation with three digital and strategy executives from BMO Financial Group, M&T Bank, and First Horizon Bank. 
  • Insider Intelligence publishes hundreds of research reports, charts, and forecasts on the Banking industry with the Banking Briefing. You can learn more about subscribing here.

Insider Intelligence kicked off its second Bank Insider Panel on October 15, with Research Director Dan Van Dyke presenting data and moderating a conversation with three leading bank digital and strategy executives on how they are "Adjusting to a New Reality." 

The panel focused on strategies and tactics to keep up with the accelerating pace of change amid the pandemic, featuring insights from panelists Brianna Elsass, who leads digital at BMO Financial Group; Mary Kate Loftus, who leads digital at M&T Bank; and Ben Hopper, who heads regional bank strategy at First Horizon Bank. You can view a recording of the event here.  

Here are four key takeaways from the panel and presentation. 

  1. The pandemic rapidly accelerated digital transformation plans among banks—but short-term digital plans have been pushed to the wayside. Digital and mobile banking adoption, defined within the past month, have increased 6 percentage points year over year in 2020 to reach 73% and 55% of US adults, respectively, according to Insider Intelligence forecasts. As transactions, customer support, marketing, and account opening go digital, banks are sprinting to realign priorities and keep services running. For instance, Elsass noted that an internal focus on minimizing outages, a "Zero Outage" policy, resulted in two long-term enhancements being pushed off at BMO Financial Group. 
  2. Consumers' priorities amid the pandemic have shifted from bricks to clicks, as physical channels took a backseat to digital. "Branches near me" was the No. 2 priority considered by mobile banking users when choosing a bank in 2019, with 39% of US mobile banking users indicating this was a top factor in choosing a bank, according to Insider Intelligence data. That figure plummeted to 33% in 2020, making it respondents' No. 5 priority in 2020. In place of legacy channels, consumers showed increasing preference for monetary factors such as rates and fees, and digital channels including online and mobile banking.
  3. Providers are focused on arming front-line bank employees with new tools to help and interact with customers. Hopper, for instance, noted that in a departure from before the pandemic, "instead of the contact center, we say 'here's your banker and local branch, with drive-thrus open. But call if you have a question.'" Elsass noted that "with the onslaught of customers requiring assistance, it drove up call volumes, and we took the opportunity to devise a temporary solution to allow branch associates to answer secure messages…Associates in corporate jobs were even pitching in."
  4. PPP showed that partnerships are a key approach to move with agility. "When the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) was being released, we had been building some fintech partnerships for platforms and scale," said Loftus. "In the weeks leading up to PPP, we already had a Blend and Salesforce partnership. We were able to set the platform up in 72 hours, bringing together bankers, customer service representatives, and technologists. And it's not over yet, going into the forgiveness phase."

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Want to hear from the leaders of digital transformation in finance? Insider Intelligence is hosting two free webinars called “The Bank Insider Panel – Acting on Consumers’ Accelerating Digital Adoption.” Click here to reserve your spot.Learn more about the financial services industry

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