PARIS, December 6, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- The European financial marketing association (Efma) with Microsoft Corp. today announced the fifth edition of its Retail Banking Advisory Council report, "Transforming Retail Banking to Reflect the New Economic Environment: The changing face of retail banking in the 21st century."


Since its formation by Efma and Microsoft in 2005, the Retail Banking Advisory Council, consisting of senior executives from Europe's leading banks, has been chartered with establishing an industry blueprint on the future of retail banking delivery and plays a pivotal role in providing guidance and support to the European banking industry.

The latest edition of the Retail Banking Advisory Council report builds on previous Council recommendations for European channel management, and focuses on:

- Transforming the retail network: Rebuilding customer trust and confidence; creating an integrated customer experience across channels; the future role of the branch - Creating a new operating model :Improving operational efficiency; cost reduction and the role of technology; the impact of regulation and compliance - Optimising the online experience: Making the move to digital marketing; leveraging intermediaries; the impact of social influence marketing

"The vision of our Council members is to provide customers with a seamless, fully integrated and uniform experience across all channels," said Patrick Desmares, secretary general, European financial marketing association. "Our recent Council discussions have shown that many banks have re-focused on the branch as the main method of controlling and maintaining customer relationships. This isn't easy when fewer customers are visiting branches, so there has also been a considerable emphasis on improving the online banking experience."

"Banks now need to take much more care in ensuring that they sell the right products to the right customers, at the right time, through the right channel," said Tony Emerson, director, EMEA Banking Industry, Microsoft. "'Needs-based selling' is having a radical effect on how banks operate. It requires better systems and processes - not only for a clearer understanding of customer needs but also for implementing the appropriate solutions."

The Council met in closed session to define the core issues European banks must address to optimise channel delivery in the new economic environment. Key issues highlighted in the report include:

Customer experience

- The delivery of an integrated customer experience will meet the needs of increasingly different customer segments at the right cost. This will be the strategic battleground in the new economic environment. - There will be more effective ways of tracking and understanding customer needs, and then implementing appropriate processes and channel strategies to meet these changes in consumer behavior. - Large pan-European banks will establish a core set of customer values, delivered in a consistent way across multiple countries. - Social networking is a driving force in how banks think about marketing, customer loyalty and brand image. Dialogue with customers will improve through the increasing use of social media, rather than the one-way communication methods of the past.

Channel developments

- The growth of online banking needs to be matched by improvements in the online buying experience. More and better support tools will be critical in the drive towards selling complex products online. - Branch formats will continue to change significantly, with many variations targeted towards different customer segments in increasingly diverse locations.

Cultural change

- New market entrants will have an increasingly significant impact on customer expectations in terms of service levels and products that banks should be delivering. This will force many 'traditional' banks to respond more rapidly than they have done in the past. - There will be significant changes in bank personnel and the training and skills required for each channel. This will involve major investment, but above all an attitude and culture change.


- With transactions and customer information generated across multiple touch points, the reliance on siloed processes and technology has reduced sales productivity. Banks must adapt quickly to survive in the new 'customer centric' environment. - CRM backed by strong business intelligence continues to be top of mind. CRM solutions need to be fully integrated with the day-to-day work environment of front line staff to translate customer insight and centralised marketing campaigns into successful customer interactions. - Banks will increasingly look to cloud computing to help them leverage existing IT investments, reduce costs and build an agile infrastructure where back end systems can be exposed to new services and channels as they emerge and evolve.

"Along with continuing European legislation designed to ensure that customers get a better deal, we are seeing the emergence of many new 'customer-centric' banks," Efma Secretary General Desmares noted. "These factors put banks under considerable pressure to provide higher levels of customer service and to ensure that there is more dialogue with customers through all channels. Members of the Retail Banking Advisory Council continue to believe that a strong channel management strategy is critical to the future success of retail banking."

A copy of "Transforming Retail Banking to Reflect the New Economic Environment" is available at:

About Efma

The European financial marketing association has been an unfailing observer of the numerous transformations that the retail financial services sector has experienced over the years and has demonstrated its ongoing commitment to providing a forum for professionals from the sector. Formed in 1971 by bankers and insurers to encourage their colleagues to share experiences, promote the best practices of their institution and collaborate through alliances and partnerships, today the non-profit association's members include over 80 per cent of Europe's largest retail financial institutions.

Through regular events, publications, and its comprehensive website, the association provides retail financial service professionals with answers to their questions about the main issues at stake in their business: multi-distribution strategies, customer approaches, product and service marketing, risk management or operational excellence, to name but a few.

Efma is above all a dynamic association, providing a great opportunity for discussion and exchanges without any commercial constraints. For the past 40 years, the loyalty of its members as well as their permanent financial support is the best proof of its efficiency.

For more information on Efma, visit

SOURCE: Microsoft Corp.

CONTACT: Alexandra Thompson of FWD PR, +44-(0)207-6232368,, for Efma