The Corporate Banking Conundrum and the Massive Digitization Opportunity

Corporate banking makes up nearly a third of the average bank’s total lending operations. So, it is surprising that institutions don’t consider it among their core banking activities, especially given the need to digitize their front and back-end processes.

Corporate banking encompasses a large portfolio of services, including cash management, trade finance, risk management, transaction services and corporate finance services. At some banks, nearly 20% of their underlying book value is dedicated entirely to corporate banking activities. There are many moving pieces, which can make it difficult to optimize and digitize, especially for banks with a large number of corporate clients.

Corporate onboarding is an important and highly complicated process, with unique complexities for each bank. From the corporate customer perspective, the time needed to onboard, resolution turnaround time and customer experience are the most valuable areas — and require the most improvement. According to a recent Fenergo survey, 81% of bank C-suite executives believe poor data management lengthens onboarding and negatively affects customer experience. Improving how banks onboard corporate clients has a variety of benefits.

  • Reduce Time-to-revenue: Banks are keen to onboard new customers quickly to maximize income and profit. A faster setup means greater potential for revenue generation through various lending products.
  • Improve Customer Experience and Loyalty: An efficient customer onboarding process is crucial to secure loyal, lifelong relationships with corporate clients.
  • Streamline and Standardize Compliance: Anti-money laundering, Know Your Customer and other regulatory compliance obligations can be effectively automated internally and cross-country.

From a bank’s perspective, getting the right information, accounting for risk, and managing customer lifecycles is not only important – it is a differentiator. But we still find, right from the start of the customer journey, that tasks are excessively manual and turnaround time is alarmingly long: lacking even the most basic digital optimization, it can take between 90 and 120 days for corporate customer onboarding.

In corporate banking, a key area of concern is time. The traditional model of account onboarding and relationship management is far too labor intensive: collecting documents and navigating through tedious elements of their bank’s internal process flows, among other tasks. This time could be used for  meaningful and insightful interactions with the clients and enabling transaction for the customer.

Digitizing onboarding processes allows RMs more time to interact with clients. Digital channels can provide additional ways to connect with and closely serve clients. Applying artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to administrative and analytical tasks not only improve RM productivity, but provide a new perspective on customer service.

Digitized information leads to digitalization of the entire corporate onboarding process. Relationship portfolio management is the glue that holds it all together.

How to Attack the Corporate Banking Behemoth

Step 1: Adopt a digital technology framework to deliver end-to-end digitalization across customer lifecycle. This allows the bank to capture information from unstructured and structured sources using optical character recognition software (OCR), among other software solutions. As a result, making this information available digitally across stakeholders.

Step 2: Remove the friction between bank data sources, then automate the process flow with lean principles. This helps ease data enrichment by addressing any adverse or inadequate information upfront.

Step 3: Be proactive and manage risk.

Risk management has changed substantially over the past decade. Regulations that emerged from the global financial crisis and levied fines triggered a wave of change in risk functions. These included more detailed and demanding capital, leverage, liquidity, and funding requirements, as well as higher standards for risk reporting.

For risk functions to thrive during this period of fundamental transformation, banks need to proactively rebuild them. To succeed, banks must start now with a portfolio of initiatives, such as digital underwriting, the incorporation of AI and machine learning techniques and interactive risk reporting, that align short-term business cases with the long-term target vision. These improvements should be complemented by a shift in recruiting toward more technology-savvy profiles or the introduction of data lakes.

Prioritize natively integrated systems and gain deep insight into the portfolio with real-time metrics reflecting transactions, positions and risk exposure data. Slash costs by simplifying legacy systems, taking SaaS beyond the cloud, and adopting robotics and AI. Build technological capabilities that force the bank to be more intelligent around customers’ needs. Look for more advanced analytic tools with best-in-class road mapping and reporting functionality.

Banks are scrambling to catch up to the emerging demands of consumers in this digitally driven and rapidly evolving ecosystem. The commercial banking space has been buzzing around advancements in digitizing and automating processes, with clear benefits to boast. It’s time corporate banking joined them.

By 2025, risk functions in banks will need to be fundamentally different than today. The next decade in risk management may be subject to more transformation than the last one. Unless banks act now and prepare for these longer-term changes, they will continue to find themselves overwhelmed by new requirements and emerging demands.