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Empowered relationship managers are needed more than ever, says Accenture

Sep 02
Tags: Accenture
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Empowered relationship managers are needed more than ever...

Commercial banks need to offer small and medium enterprises (SMEs) support during COVID-19 and it’s up to relationship managers to step up. That’s the opinion of Andy Young, managing director within the talent and organisation practice at Accenture.

He has pointed out that it’s SMEs that are bearing the brunt of the economic impact brought about by the pandemic. With the Office for National Statistics (ONS) stating that 42 per cent of UK businesses have less than six months of cash in reserve, and the Economist predicting a flurry of bankruptcies by the end of 2020, it’s a critical time.

Jared Rorrer, managing director – global commercial banking lead at Accenture, has also highlighted the importance at present. He said: “In their struggle to stay afloat and emerge stronger after COVID-19, small and mid-size companies want, and desperately need, attention from their bank’s relationship managers right now - along with competent advice, hyper-relevant ideas, actions and solutions.”

It’s not all bad, however, as Mr Young said that some SMEs are using this time of crisis as an opportunity and are managing to flourish amid new consumer habits. Banks that manage to meet the needs of their customers through effective use of their relationship managers will secure their futures.

In a new report published by Accenture, the stages to relationship managers becoming more strategic in their dealings with clients are outlined. The first is to use digital technologies and predictive analytics to fully understand how needs are changing, then identify the best time to engage with the customer.

Accenture estimates that by adapting the role of relationship manager, banks can increase their revenue by ten to 15 per cent, free up relationship managers’ capacity by 15 to 20 per cent and retain more high performing relationship managers by ten to 20 per cent.

The empowered relationship manager is seen as playing a valuable role in the continuous feedback loop between the customer and the business. They will act as a strategic advisor to clients, offering personal insights in a timely fashion.

Accenture believes banks have accelerated their digital transformations by about five years in the face of the coronavirus crisis. What was once an intensely in-person job, that of the relationship manager, is now performed from home but is still important as SMEs are in desperate need of help in the current climate.

The professional services company has underlined the fact that business transformation is people transformation. It suggested a few keys to success:

  • Leadership - leaders need to articulate a clear vision during times of uncertainty.
  • Trust and psychological safety - a group environment must be nurtured, where people feel they belong, can communicate without fear of judgment, take risks and learn.
  • Culture - the culture of an establishment must change if relationship managers are to feel empowered.
  • Technology adoption - the full value of new technologies can only be unlocked if they are fully adopted.
  • New skilling - banks must support relationship managers in developing skills like empathy and insight.

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