Conversational financial coaching can transform banks into better trusted advisors

Mathieu Barthelemy, lead product manager digital banking, equensWorldline

18 June 2020

In the digital age, banks are looking for ways to remain relevant and distinctive. Experts believe that banks who maintain high levels of customer satisfaction will eventually conquer market share. This means that it is crucial for financial institutions to deeply understand and fully fulfil the needs of increasingly digital customers, at every stage of their life.

In the future, new digital solutions will give banks the opportunity to be closer to their customers and also to respond to future wishes. 

One of the solutions that in my opinion meets growing expectations in terms of convenience and personalisation is conversational financial coaching - which is a solution that combines personal finance management, conversational banking and data analytics via artificial intelligence (AI). This so-called ‘digital assistant’ takes personalisation to a new level by providing customers with tailor-made and contextual advice anytime, anywhere and on any device.

Financial wellness
I believe that this solution will, in the future, make it possible for a digital bank to be there for customers every step of the way, and not only when payments need to be made. Banks can help their customers improve their financial wellness by providing advice on their expenses or by building a safety net to avoid overdraft. They can also assist them in their life projects, for example by encouraging savings through spending and savings challenges while suggesting the most appropriate bank’s products.

For example, if a customer wants to set money aside for an important project, this solution can first look at the financial situation, possibly determine an amount that can be saved monthly based on the spending pattern (balance forecast), detect some saving opportunities by analysis recurring expenses (contract management) and propose some partners’ offers to reduce the final price (merchant couponing). At the heart of such customer journey: AI, financial analysis, and payment will be core services while chat- and voicebots will highly simplify the recurring interactions with end-users.

Process driven by AI-powered chat- or voicebots
I see that chat- and voicebots are the future, because they lead to easier and more natural customer experiences within a technology-filled environment. As digital conversations in many sectors seem to be receiving increasing attention - think of digital assistants in cars, for example - it's only a matter of time before consumers expect to be able to benefit from the same convenience in the banking sector.

In addition, the use of data analytics will lead to an even better understanding of consumers and their needs; gaining more insights into the customer's wishes will enable banks to progressively enrich their solutions. This allows banks to respond to customer wishes in a timely manner.

Added value
Solutions such as conversational financial coaching turn banks into a better trusted financial advisor. In this way, banks can use the contact moments with the customer and provide them with tailored financial advice. Added value can be created by offering (financial) products and by taking decisions (for example with regard to housing costs or insurance).

We recently started a partnership with Meniga who helps financial institutions to turn data into better customer experiences by categorizing transactions, analyzing budgets and proactively delivering suggestions and challenges. Combining our assets in payment and conversational banking with Meniga's expertise will lead to the development of a reliable conversational financial coaching tool, enabling banks and financial institutions to tackle one of the biggest challenges of the Open Banking era: retain and delight customers.

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