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Banking CEOs see sector under pressure

Scott Watson-Brown of PwC Bermuda

Banks are suffering the biggest pressures since the recession hit in 2008, a report from professional services firm PwC said yesterday.

A still struggling global economy, poor business performance and risk from cyberattacks as well as increased regulatory red tape are among the major problems cited by the industry.

In addition, the rapid development of technology means banks will have to change their methods to remain competitive.

Scott Watson-Brown, asset management leader at PwC Bermuda, said: “For CEOs, driving delivery of technology and innovation will be critical in delivering the choice, service and pricing bank customers want.

“The winners will be those organisations that move their businesses with purpose, speed and focus.”

The news came in a PwC report on the state of banking worldwide, part of its annual global survey, which saw 176 banking and capital markets CEOs from 62 countries quizzed on their views.

Eighty per cent of bank chiefs said that customer relations management systems would be a crucial area for the future.

And 75 per cent said that data analytics offered the potential for the best returns in terms of customer engagement, while 56 per cent said that social media communications and engagement was another major factor that had come into play.

More than 66 per cent of those surveyed said that they planned further cost-cutting over the next year, with 10 per cent predicting they would sell off a majority interest in a business or exit a major market.

Matthew Clarke, PwC’s asset management director in Bermuda, said: “What is clear from the survey findings is how fast and effectively the market leaders are turning disruption into an opportunity.

“They’re capitalising on the value of technology and creativity of their people to tap into new value chains and transform operational speed and cost.”

A total of 77 per cent of banking and capital markets CEOs, however, said that the limited availability of key skills was a threat.

The PwC report explained: “The impact of technology requires more people with both banking and digital skills. Few as yet possess these hybrid capabilities.

“Competition to attract them isn’t just coming from traditional peers, but also from financial technology start-ups and technology groups looking to develop their presence within the banking and capital markets and wider financial services market.”

The report added: “Stakeholders are demanding more from banks, not just in the value they deliver to them individually, but also in their contribution to society as a whole.”