Relationship Management: perhaps one of the fiddliest and yet exciting role in modern-day banking from a private banking perspective. My reason for qualifying relationship management thus is because one needs to master the art of multitasking.
Although tricky, the role can also be fulfilling, once you have a grasp of what it is required of you. The key to performing better in this role is having more than average knowledge of the products and services you are offering, what your competitors are offering, a thorough understanding of the banking regulatory and compliance environment, the bank’s processes and applicable policies. The internal linkages are also key. It is the relationships with internal stakeholders and knowing exactly who to have on a speed dial that always makes a difference.
But the holy grail is a thorough understanding of your client’s profile and a knack to serve. I remember how I used to receive late night calls from clients on a weekend spending time with loved ones or enjoying drinks with friends. That comes with the territory. Imagine a client has travelled to another side of the world and suddenly he/she is not able to conduct transactions. Either a card is not working, they can’t access Internet banking, they try to contact the call centre and still they do not get assistance. The RM will be the next point of contact, if not the initial one.
During my tenure as Head of Private Banking in one of the local banks, some of the Relationship Managers (RMs) would feel like they are being overstretched and bemoan the fact that clients just call even in the middle of the night. My advice was always that if it is not habitual, let us put ourselves in the client’s shoes. Say you have travelled and now you are unable to settle your bill with the hotel to checkout, a cab is on standby to the Airport and you are not able to access your cash. You would surely wake someone up at 4 am to come to your rescue. No one really enjoys calling the RM in the early hours of the morning or during the weekend, but a tight corner would push someone to do so. And yep, I could see the disapproval on their faces, but it is what it is. It is not always easy being in Relationship Management. It goes beyond being just a job to serving without reservation, hence a toast to those who truly understand what the role requires them to do.
Although a lot has changed through the years, there is absolute reliance on Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems and digital channels that allow clients to self-service. A relationship Manager still plays a vital role because there are certain things that machines and systems can’t do. Clients still want the human touch and to be able to connect with someone, hear their views and suggestions, and get advice. CRM tools can galvanise the relationship aspect, equipping RMs with data and information about clients. Customer Lifetime Value, Customer Retention and Customer Value Management are some of the aspects in modern banking that are heavily reliant on harnessing data and information to make decisions, be it strategic or tactical.
Relationship Management as a practice runs parallel with relationship marketing theory. Infact, it has its origins in the relationship marketing theory made famous by Leonard Berry from 1982. Berry advocated a transition from traditional/transactional marketing to relationship marketing and encouraged businesses to build deep relationships with clients and to understand them better. Currently, other than banking, various industries have seen the value in connecting more with clients and have adopted this model.
The RM has become the primary contact person and assists clients in all matters according to their needs, directly or indirectly, other than just selling products and services on offer. There should also be a healthy balance between client acquisition and retention. As a matter of fact, relationship management places more emphasis on staying close to clients. Acquisition is important and the growth needs to be managed and be limited to a certain point where the RM is still in total control of portfolio. If the portfolios are too big, clients will not get the attention; they will feel cold and eventually leave.
LinkedIn: Gomolemo Kololo Manake