The future is now. The big question is which banks are going to thrive or dive

by Richard Thompson Global Leader, Portfolio Advisory Group, PwC

Email +44 (0) 7711 495236

From technological disruption and shifting customer expectations to agile challengers snapping at the heels of established banks, the future of banking is with us today.

Banks must find answers to the pressing challenges they face or risk another decade of sub-par returns or even being side-lined altogether. But this is also an exhilarating time, alive with innovation and opportunities to seize market share and fire up growth.

This week, PwC hosted more than 600 market participants from around 25 countries at our 2019 European Banking Transformation and M&A Conference. In sessions ranging from the potential threat from Big Tech entrants to fast-tracking transformation through M&A, more than 70 panellists mapped the contours of the emerging landscape and how banks can navigate through it. We also had a disruption room, where participants could experience the future in areas such as voice technology, and give their thoughts on the impact.

For me, the highlights included interviewing Anne Boden, founder and CEO of Starling Bank and James Saull, of Amazon Web Services. Tellingly, earlier in the day when participants were asked what is the company that could present the biggest threat to their businesses, Amazon was the number one choice.

Anne Boden

New models emerge

One stark dilemma that came through from the discussions is that while established banks may have the resources to develop and apply the technology that would enable them to compete with agile start-ups and challengers, the costs are potentially prohibitive. The established groups have tens of thousands of staff and have to contend with the weight of ageing legacy systems. The challengers operate with brand new tech and workforces that number in the dozens.

A possible option discussed is a ‘marketplace’ model. Others explored at the conference include a utility model for basic services and ‘speed boats’ at the side to serve more high value/high touch operations such as specialist lending. M&A is set to play a key part in the shift, though rather than just consolidation, the main focus, however, is likely to be acquiring specific capabilities or restructuring balance sheets to free up capital for growth.

James Amazon

Buzzing with ideas

Coming away from the conference, there is so much to think about. We will be exploring the different insights that came through in videos, blogs and other communications coming out over the next few weeks. In the meantime, I would like to thank everyone involved for their contribution. The whole event was both fascinating and fun.

PwC Branding


by Richard Thompson Global Leader, Portfolio Advisory Group, PwC

Email +44 (0) 7711 495236