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In many cases, the end of the year gives you time to step back and take stock of the last 12 months. This is when many of us take a hard look at what worked and what did not, complete performance reviews, and formulate plans for the coming year. For me, it is all of those things plus a time when I u...
The World's Leading Retail Banks Outperform Their Peers Financially by Excelling at Operations, BCG Study Reveals
Top Banks Have Become More Efficient Operationally and Also More Client-Focused, as Customer-Centricity Becomes an Imperative, Survey Finds

BOSTON, MA -- (Marketwire) -- 02/04/13 -- Retail banks that achieve operational excellence throughout their organizations also deliver superior financial results, according to a report released today by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG).

The report, titled "Operational Excellence in Retail Banking: Committing to Customers in the 'New New Normal,'" details the findings of BCG's third annual benchmarking survey of the global retail-banking industry. The survey covered 18 of the 35 top retail banks in the Americas, Europe and Asia-Pacific, collectively referred to as "premier-league" banks.

The survey found that the operationally strongest retail banks in the premier league outperform their peers financially. Banks that excelled on a wide range of operational measurements had low cost-to-income ratios (CIRs), a key measure of efficiency and profitability. The leading financial performers achieved top ranking in at least two, and frequently three, of the four levers of operational excellence identified by BCG.

The survey also revealed that the operating models of the premier-league banks as a whole have become more productive. The banks achieved these efficiency gains even as they focused more staff time and resources on meeting the needs of customers.

The leading banks exhibited five key trends in the way they improved their operations, the survey found. All five trends contribute in some fashion to enhancing customer services. The trends are: strengthening the customer experience, increasing sales performance, improving end-to-end productivity, enhancing organizational efficiency, and reducing complexity.

"Customer-centricity has been seen as a best practice for a number of years," said Robert Sims, a partner in BCG's Toronto office and coauthor of the report. "But now -- in the 'new new normal' environment -- it has become absolutely essential as far as the world's top banks are concerned."

The drive for customer-centricity was exemplified by operational changes made by premier-league banks to reduce the number and complexity of their products, the survey found. Offering fewer products and making them easier to understand minimizes customer confusion and also simplifies bank operations.

At the same time, the leading banks have improved data-mining techniques -- allowing them to create more personalized customer services while improving sales performance.

Customers, meanwhile, have become more demanding, expecting banks to provide simplified interaction processes across multiple channels, when and where the customer prefers. For banks, providing a truly integrated multichannel customer offering is now just the minimum table stakes in the competition to win business, the research found.

"Taken together, the findings demonstrate how capable and resilient the world's leading retail banks are," said Michael Grebe, a partner in BCG's Munich office and coauthor of the report. "In today's challenging financial-services environment, that is a rare positive message."

A copy of the report can be downloaded at

To arrange an interview with one of the authors, please contact Eric Gregoire at +1 617 850 3701 or

About The Boston Consulting Group
The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) is a global management consulting firm and the world's leading advisor on business strategy. We partner with clients from the private, public, and not-for-profit sectors in all regions to identify their highest-value opportunities, address their most critical challenges, and transform their enterprises. Our customized approach combines deep insight into the dynamics of companies and markets with close collaboration at all levels of the client organization. This ensures that our clients achieve sustainable competitive advantage, build more capable organizations, and secure lasting results. Founded in 1963, BCG is a private company with 78 offices in 43 countries. For more information, please visit

About features the latest thinking from BCG experts as well as from CEOs, academics, and other leaders. It covers issues at the top of senior management's agenda. It also provides unprecedented access to BCG's extensive archive of thought leadership stretching back almost 50 years to the days of Bruce Henderson, the firm's founder and one of the architects of modern management consulting. All of our content -- including videos, podcasts, commentaries, and reports -- can be accessed via PC, mobile, iPad, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

The Boston Consulting Group
Eric Gregoire
Global Media Relations Manager

Tel +1 617 850 3783
Fax +1 617 850 3701

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