Is private banking entering the post-COVID era with a new client relationship culture?

In the Swiss private banking sector, many within the industry believe that life post-Covid-19 will not be too dissimilar to life as it was before. At Indigita, we decided to test this theory by conducting a simple survey to better understand how the professionals on the ground really feel about the future of client relationships in private banking.

Our survey results suggest that we have to adapt to a new reality that will be much different from the past but which could still bring opportunities of its own.

Client Relationships Significantly Hindered

The Indigita survey found overwhelmingly that the general sentiment around client relationships has suffered negatively because of the Coronavirus. Close to 95% of those surveyed answered that their working relationships with clients have been significantly hindered, with the remaining 5% claiming that relationships have been negatively affected but not in a significant way.

The result is not surprising, but the bigger issue is how this current situation can be resolved positively when client relationships are a core element of the business process.

If things were to revert to form, one remedy to this solution would be for private banking professionals to resume the business travelling and in-person meetings that so characterised the forming and maintaining of relationships in the past. However, the responses to our second question suggest that reverting to the old way of working may no longer be feasible for many of those questioned.

While 47% of those surveyed stated that they have already resumed travelling and meeting clients for business, this has not been the case for over 50% of those questioned.

26% of people believe that traveling to meet clients could return in the next six months, but more than a quarter of those questioned believe this is a scenario that will not be possible even within the next 9 months.

Clearly there is a division of opinion within the industry on exactly how things will work in the future. Something that is perfectly understandable given the great turmoil and uncertainty that everybody has lived through over the course of the last 18 months or so. What is certain is that things have changed fundamentally and new solutions need to be found.

A New Reality for Business Travel

The stubborn refusal of Covid-19 to disappear is only part of the reason why people in all spheres of life are reluctant or simply unable to return to work the way it used to be. Stay-at-home orders have made many individuals and organisations realise that remote working can be almost as effective as office-based.

And aside from changing the way we work, Covid forced many people to reevaluate their whole lives and their role in the well-being of the planet. As part of this reckoning, there has been a broader appreciation of just how unnecessary much business travel often is.

A recent Deloitte Insights article on the changing face of work post-Covid revealed that reducing international or long-distance travel will be one of the key approaches as businesses look to hit sustainability targets.