How can Sparkassen remain relevant and successful in the world of Google-Apple-N26-TradeRepublik? How do we achieve the benefits of immense trust for our clients, a deeply rooted local presence and a close relationship with our clients?
Over the past few decades we have lived with the truism: “Nothing is as constant as change.” In times of exponential change, even change shifts—even faster, more difficult to predict, more turbulent.
The banking industry is facing such a change. We’re in the midst of a Nokia or Kodak moment, and we’re in danger of becoming increasingly unimportant and unnecessary.
The banking industry is under great pressure
The components of value creation, especially the customer interface in the banking value chain, are under attack from all sides. Not just by 1,100 FinTechs in Germany, but increasingly by BigTechs: ApplePay is perhaps the most successful new financial product for decades, Amazon is developing into a major retail funder, PayPal and Klarna have conquered the online payment market, Google is already a point First contact for clients for many topics. We’re still very much interested in understanding the past – the world is in the process of predicting customer needs based on data and even influencing them in a targeted way.
At a time when money is easy with fintech investors and big corporations – and banks are under high cost pressure – we risk losing competitiveness quickly. The cost and equity pressure will only grow even more: In addition to zero or negative interest rates, which cause interest income to shrink year after year, we have strict and expensive tariff structures, and outdated IT systems that are incredibly slow, and tougher than ever. requirements.
Although: We bankers love to complain about regulators – but they keep us alive in the first place. Like a fortress that the enemy cannot easily enter: imagine how much easier it would be for FinTechs or GAFA to change the market if there was no banking license, MaRisk or BAIT. This buys us the time we urgently need.
However, the greatest danger does not come from new competitors and business models, but from one’s culture, discontinued operations, and a “can’t do it” mentality. Bureaucratic organisations, a high level of risk aversion and ultimately a lack of passion to make our clients’ lives better: all this requires a fundamental cultural shift for the industry.
“It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.” – W Edwards Deming
It looks bleak. maybe you can be. or not. The nice thing about the future is that we can help shape it ourselves. A new world requires a new vision, a new way of thinking, and a new desire to try different things.
Our DNA and our raison d’être – just like other savings banks – were two centuries ago:
- trust From our clients: who have placed their trust in us not for years but for generations
- Understanding To our clients’ problems: through deep and long-term relationships on a personal level
- Networks Local Economy: In Our Original Job, collect their hard-earned money from employees, farmers, and workers in order to finance the local economy (directly or through state banks) in order to create jobs and prosperity for the aforementioned savers.
The interesting thing is that neither trust nor understanding nor communication are closely related to financial services – but to attitude, self-image and purpose. And this DNA also drives our future strategy.
Redefining the limits of the possible
The first step for us, Sparkasse Bremen, was to learn, understand and reinterpret our own DNA in the current context without wanting to be something we’re not really into. The new interpretation:
- Understanding to our customers, setting their lives and their problems – not only at the personal level, but also at the data level, where we have more information about our customers, their needs and behavior than anyone else
- trust of customers through consistent solutions to their problems – and by making their lives easier.
- Networks From customers with us but also with each other across all channels by creating new networks and ecosystems and using new technologies
Our vision is in 3 pillars
What does that mean specifically? Our vision is based on three pillars:
- Sparkasse as a platform bank and intermediary service provider,
- The city as a living local ecosystem in the GAFA world,
- A new kind of organization.
1. Sparkasse as a bank platform and intermediary service provider
We solve problems…
- For our clients, they adapt to their life situation, goals, fears and dreams
- … through the best solutions …
- Which does not have to be our own, but also from our partners or competitions
- …also outside the realm of banks.
It does not matter whether the correct solution for the client is a financial service.
2. The city as a living local ecosystem in the world of GAFA
A new way of active collaboration between citizens, startups, industry, retail, artisans, university, city, etc. – so that new added value is created for all participants
3. New organization
- Obsessed with customer value.
- Agile, flexible and fast.
- Free from hierarchies and silos. With complete freedom of choice for everyone.
- Fully digitized – so people take care of the people, not the paper.
In addition, we set the goal for ourselves:
we will The Digital partners for our customers and the Bremen site. We make our customers’ lives easier through digitization and support our customers to transition to a digital world. And when someone says, “This isn’t Sparkas anymore,” I say, “It’s the Sparkas of the future!”
Courage to Courage
We often hear phrases such as:
- Our people do not.
- We don’t trust ourselves.
- An established company cannot be as fast as a startup.
why not? Most of the time, the boundaries are on our minds. We learned how some things should work. Until someone does it differently.
It is not easy to question the thinking patterns and business models that made us successful in the past. But as in biological evolution: those who do not adapt die.
hard sound? that it. Perhaps strategically smart. After all, if the future isn’t so extreme, what do we have to lose? Our comfort zones for sure, maybe a little money and time. Survival has no business status.
If this is indeed the case – we have guaranteed our long-term viability. The lives of our customers have improved significantly. The well-being of our teams has increased dramatically. And we have done justice to our mission as the backbone of the local economy.
We appeal to Sparkässler
So my appeal to us Sparkässler:
Be brave, try new things, create new benefits for our customers! We owe it to our clients who remain loyal to us and need a lot of support in this new world.
We owe it to our savings banks, to which most of us have devoted most of our working lives.
We owe it to ourselves not to waste our life’s work but to make a small contribution to creating a better world.
The article is the second part of the “#Banking2025” series on medium-term prospects, changes, opportunities, and risks for banks and savings banks.
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