Human relationships are at the heart of banking. Indeed the business of banking could not be conducted without them. BCC constantly reminded employees that it owed its existence to ‘our’ clients and its future depends on the quality of ‘our’ relationships with clients. The drive to mobilise deposits and for increase in business was on client relationships.
The following was published in BCC’s inhouse magazine emphasising the importance of client relationships.
“Our Business: Client Relationships”
The common and continuous realization of the importance of human relationships in banking will bring about a very significant change in the context of our business. Of all the things that we do, nurturing client relationships is the most important. We should be in love with these relationships. In banking there is one simple fact and one simple truth - this is a business nurtured and sustained by relationships.
All else follows from this. If we want more business, we must have more relationships. The focus of everyone must be on clients, whether we come directly into contact with clients or not. Profit comes from the relationship we have with clients. It is not the other way round. The service we give, the quality and nature of that service and the future development of that relationship all come later. The first priority is to establish more relationships and to generate further relationships through relationships. That is our business. Once that has been done, it will not be difficult to sell specific products.
We have been creating and developing client relationships since the bank was founded in 1972, but we might have been doing it without realising its full potential and significance. Now we seek to bring its importance to the forefront of our awareness. Nothing changes except our perception of what we are doing. But once our perception changes, the whole context of our endeavours also changes. Our business takes on a different meaning, a different texture and a new accent. Once its full implications have been grasped by all members of our family, the whole context of BCC will be changed and this change in context will be a truly historical development in the life of BCC.
Closely related to this is the question of corporate magic and corporate charisma. This reflects the quality of BCC's soul. It has its origins in action, in the release and flow of energy and in its interfusion. This year the global energy system that is BCC is being charged to become a truly high voltage system. Charisma and corporate magic are the result of the velocity of action in the volume and quality of action.
The largest possible number of our family members should be involved in client relationships, with the dual purpose of increasing the volume of our business and of injecting a greater sense of purpose into some parts of BCC.
At times we may have been complacent without realising that complacency is a disease that could kill the spirit of our endeavours.
Complacency brings lethargy, vagueness and emptiness. Once these are shed, we feel more alive and productive. Our self-esteem rises and we feel much happier.
Intense purposeful activity creates charisma and frees people from the comfort zone. The sustained release and flow of energy is absolutely necessary to manage the contents of the context and this is the only route to success. Life has to be action packed and packed in the material of love and quality. In BCC it is a crime if any of us allows physical, intellectual or psychological lethargy to permeate our energy.
It may not be easy to bring people out of the comfort zone, but two things will help. The first is that a special kind of magic, a corporate charisma, must be created in order to entice them to engage in productive and worthwhile activity. Secondly this intangible charisma must be sustained by an organization and a system.
Each branch manager, regional general manager, chief executive of subsidiaries and affiliates, and each head of CSO divisions is being asked to identify in his unit or area suitable people from all categories who would like to be involved in this new programme of client relationships. Everyone who takes part in the programme should be encouraged to have a clear perception of the following issues:
- How many relationships does he have with existing clients? How confident and capable is he of enhancing these relationships to increase business?
- How many contacts does he have which can be converted into account relationships and how capable is he of doing so?
- What is the number and quality of existing relationships which he can effectively sustain? With what sort of new clients can he establish worthwhile and encashable accounts?
A new department is being established at CSO to record all relevant information and to monitor success. Similar departments are being set up at regional and branch levels to create an environment of excitement, involvement and change. A new spirit of motivation and purpose is flowing through BCC. We are on the threshold of an entirely new future.
RELATIONSHIP BANKING RETAINS ITS IMPORTANCE
In an article in its edition of 12 August 1985, the Financial Times of London has confirmed that banking is, above all, a business of relationships. Relevant sections of the article are reprinted here.
Corporate banking seems to get more competitive and complicated each year as new institutions enter the business, and novel products proliferate. But what is it that companies look for in their banks these days? Is it just the best deal at the best price, with a few bright ideas thrown in? Or do they still want the personal touch?
A new survey* of UK corporate treasurers by Greenwich Associates, one of the leading US bank research groups, suggests that what they are looking for are ways to control the increasingly turbulent environment in which they operate. And for this, they want a select group of trusted bank advisers.
Corporate financial executives, Greenwich says, are indicating that traditional values like reliability, consistency, and dependable counsel remain important. This implies "that the widely heralded innovations of the present day are not leading to a strictly transaction-driven environment at the expense of relationship banking.''
In interviews with nearly 400 large and medium-sized UK companies, Greenwich found that while companies are using more banks these days (17 on average), the number of their designated ''principal banks'' is falling (from eight to seven on average last year).
This may be because they want to concentrate on banks where there are good personal links. The reason most often given for improving relationships with a bank was "attention and service from account executives." The larger the company, the more likely it was to stress the quality of lending services, though again the multinationals put innovation, flexibility and speed in lending ahead of loan pricing, which suggests that the cost of money is not the prime consideration for big corporations.
*United Kingdom Corporate Banking 1985. Greenwich Associates, Greenwich, Connecticut 06830, USA.