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(originally published by Booz & Company)


Growing a New Niche in Retail Banking

Citibank’s Citigold, for example, has a branding associated with it, offering segmented services across all channels — in branches, call centers, and online. In addition to the benefits described above, Citigold customers are offered priority processing, special savings and rewards, and access to financial advisors from Smith Barney to guide their investing and manage their portfolios.

The recent relaunch of HSBC Premier as a global banking offering is focused on the mass affluent’s mobility, and seeks to provide seamless cross-border banking. Among its offerings are a globally accessible number for emergency assistance, access to a dedicated relationship manager, access to banking services and lounge facilities (Premier centers) in 35 countries and territories, and the ability to view and manage — through a single Web site — all HSBC accounts held globally. HSBC has developed a Global Training Academy to get 5,000 Premier relationship managers on the ground, along with 3,000 support staff, all specially trained to serve the mass affluent.

These and other top-performing banks are developing and adapting their distribution channels to meet the needs of increasingly demanding customers: Their branches are attractive and well-designed, their Web sites are highly specialized and secure, their call centers offer quick solutions to customers’ problems, and their mobile sales forces enhance convenience and enable face-to-face interaction. As their numbers continue to grow, the mass affluent will offer banks that carefully and intelligently enter this market substantial opportunity to raise their game.

Author Profiles:

Alan Gemes ([email protected]) is a vice president with Booz Allen Hamilton based in London, and is head of financial services in Europe. His primary focus is on the transformation of retail financial institutions, including development of growth strategies, value propositions and operations, and people realignment.
Fabienne Konik ([email protected]) is a principal with Booz Allen based in London. She focuses on applying lessons from consumer goods industries to retail financial-services operations.
Caroline Moss ([email protected]) is a principal with Booz Allen based in London. She focuses primarily on strategy, organizational design, and business transformation in banking, capital markets, and wealth management.
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  1. Alan Gemes, Fabienne Konik, and Caroline Moss, “Striving for Growth: Best Practices in Retail Banking Sales and Service Channels,” Booz Allen Hamilton, June 2007: The survey on which this article was based provides more detail about the current state of retail banks and identifies the top performers. PDF Download.
  2. “Innovating Customer Service: Retail Banking’s New Frontier,” strategy+business / Knowledge@Wharton, December 22, 2006: How (U.S.) banks can become more customer-focused and innovative. Click here.
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