-OpEd-

In the era of digital technology and uberization, while artificial intelligence and algorithms arouse fears and fantasies and neobanks flourish, the banking landscape is undergoing a profound transformation.

A symbol of this digitalization, the massive reduction in the number of bank branches benefits from deeper virtual relationships via the internet and mobile applications.

At the same time, the traumas linked to the 2008 crisis contributed to the rise of widespread mistrust of banks. This phenomenon also encourages the rise of fintech and pushes bankers to reinvent their businesses.

Gradually, two types of banks for private individuals are expected to emerge.

Relational and digital

On the one hand, there will be a fully digitalized bank, able to respond to the desire for simplification and immediacy, developing the client's autonomy on simple operations with low added value, and integrating the regulatory constraints inherently included in its customer relationship. A bank where AI, robotization and algorithms will be able to spread.

Indeed, other sectors have been able to benefit from this deep digitalization, such as transport, where artificial intelligence and digitalization are invited at all stages of urban travel. Digitalization makes it possible to offer consumers a personalized, interactive and generally accessible service 24 hours a day.

57% of French people prefer to use an advisor.

On the other hand, there will be a bank whose savings support and asset management strategy meets more advanced needs such as complex real estate loans or the management of live securities. Here, the client must benefit from the sound advice that the banker, acting as a sort of financial conductor, builds by mobilizing the bank's various areas of expertise. A bank in which putting digital technology at the service of people, or wealth engineering, makes sense.

This embodiment of the relationship when it comes to assets remains essential. According to a Next Content study conducted last February, 57% of French people prefer to use an advisor for financial savings, investments or borrowing transactions.

To satisfy a multifaceted customer base, especially the younger generations, it is necessary to be able to offer different tailor-made offers. This is where the role of the banker, and in particular that of the private banker, appears to be indispensable and irreplaceable.

The banker, always essential

Only real people can ensure the adaptability of a service, even if it means being able to stand back vis-a-vis a customer who manages his daily banking activities independently. This empowerment must not conceal an ever-present need for support and a global approach that is individualized over time. In this respect, it is necessary to place human flavor at the heart of any relationship between the banker and his client, who needs to confide and trust.

More than ever, the wealth bank of tomorrow must put digital technology at the service of people and shape the success of its clients by creating a unique and lasting relationship.

Private bankers can be compared to a family doctor who maintains a close relationship over the long term. Both a confidant and a partner dedicated to everyday life, he must be responsible and offer solutions adapted to his client. The time for toxic titles is over. From now on, the private banker, supported by a strengthened regulatory framework, increases his responsibility to the benefit of his client's assets. From viniculture to energy transition and taxation, he must deploy his inventiveness to offer turnkey solutions that will meet the ambition and needs of his client.

Exchanging via videoconference but also meeting the customer in person will mean that tomorrow's banker will be somewhat nomadic — requiring a flexibility that meets the challenges of everchanging physical networks. A human experience implies proximity, intimacy and commitment that go far beyond digital tools.


*Nicolas Hubert is Managing Director of Milleis Banque (formerly Barclays France).


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