The previous 2009 Efma/Finalta survey was written in the context of severe economic conditions. At the time of writing our 2010 report, (summer 2010), the economic climate seems a little more stable, though uncertainties remain over currencies and public sector deficits.
Last year, many banks were forced to take tough lending decisions, due to more stringent risk policies and an increase in customers experiencing financial difficulties. This caused a focus on collections activities. Finalta argued that in addition to resolving immediate credit issues, banks should review the effectiveness and efficiency of their small business operations, including reassessing their service models.
In the budget constrained environment of 2010, re-evaluation of the service model is even more important. In particular, the costly provision of the small business relationship manager needs to be challenged. This year, we look in more detail at the true purpose and focus of relationship managers. We examine the role of the RM, and the real benefits that they bring to the bank and to the customer.
Over 90 banks from 27 countries participated in this year’s study. There are constraints on the level of detail that we may provide due to the nature of an online survey.