The Covid-19 pandemic has bankers reexamining the value of their branches.
While branch networks remain vital, their preeminence as a delivery channel has been diminished through the coronavirus crisis.
Bank Director’s 2020 Technology Survey, sponsored by CDW, finds that bank executives and directors indicating that the digital channel is most important to their bank’s growth (50%) outnumber those who place equal value on both the digital and branch channels (46%).
In last year’s survey, those numbers were essentially flipped, with 51% indicating that the two channels were equally important, and 38% prioritizing mobile and online channels.
This accelerates the evolution that the industry has undergone for years. Nearly all respondents — 97% — say their bank has seen increased adoption and use of digital channels due to Covid-19.
The survey was distributed in June and July, after a period of time when many banks upgraded their technology to better serve customers digitally, facilitate remote work by their employees and respond to the high demand for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. Sixty-five percent say their bank implemented or upgraded technology due to the coronavirus crisis. Of these respondents, 70% say their bank adopted technology to issue PPP loans.
These executives and directors also report installing or upgrading customer-facing virtual meeting technology and/or interactive teller machines (39%), or enabling customers to apply for loans (35%) and/or open deposit accounts digitally (32%).
Yet, just 37% sought new technology providers as a result of the pandemic.
The survey also reveals that fewer banks rely on their core provider to drive their technology strategy forward. Forty-one percent indicate that their bank relies on its core to introduce innovative solutions, down from 60% in last year’s survey. Sixty percent look to non-core providers for new solutions.
Focus on Experience
Eighty-one percent of respondents say improving the customer experience drives their bank’s technology strategy; 79% seek efficiencies.
Driving the Strategy Forward
For 64% of respondents, modernizing digital applications represents an important piece of their bank’s overall technology strategy. While banks look to third-party providers for the solutions they need, they’re also participating in industry groups (37%), designating a high-level executive to focus on innovation (37%) and engaging directors through a board-level technology committee (35%). A few are taking internal innovation even further by hiring developers (12%) and/or data scientists (9%), or building an innovation lab or team (15%).
Room for Improvement
Just 13% of respondents say their small business lending process is fully digital, and 55% say commercial customers can’t apply for a loan digitally. Retail lending shows more progress; three-quarters say their process is at least partially digital.
Spending Continues to Rise
Banks budgeted a median of $900,000 for technology spending in fiscal year 2020, up from $750,000 last year. But financial institutions spent above and beyond that to respond to Covid-19, with 64% reporting increased spending due to the pandemic.
Impact on Technology Roadmaps
More than half say their bank adjusted its technology roadmap in response to the current crisis. Of these respondents, 74% want to enhance online and mobile banking capabilities. Two-thirds plan to upgrade — or have upgraded — existing technology, and 55% prioritize adding new digital lending capabilities.
Remote Work Permanent for Some
Forty-two percent say their institution plans to permanently shift more of its employees to remote work arrangements following the Covid-19 crisis; another 23% haven’t made a decision.
To view the full results of the survey, click here.