We all made 2020 plans, and then we all quickly scrapped them. 

The financial industry was no exception. By March and April, the industry experienced seismic shifts. Deposits at the largest banks ballooned by more than $1 trillion, offices went empty, remote work became widely acceptable, drive-through banking made a comeback, and the primary reliance on digital services was swift and decisive as mobile banking activity rose by 50%

To better understand what’s been happening in 2020, we launched a series of consumer surveys, which we cover at length in our ultimate guides. 

But we also wanted to better understand what’s happening inside financial institutions, so we launched a corollary survey of bankers. In a series of posts starting today and running for the following two weeks, we’ll explore this survey, which focuses on data, open banking, and financial wellness, as well as the outlook for 2021.

In this piece, we’ll highlight just five of our many findings. Stay tuned for more in the coming weeks.

To start, it’s worth noting that the survey contains data from 220 respondents from the banking industry. Nearly half of the respondents were managers, and slightly more than a quarter were directors. In addition, 10% were VPs and 15% were senior VPs. 

Bankers survey 2021

Here’s what we found.

1. No one’s plans stayed the same.

In a result that might surprise no one, only 3% of respondents said that their original 2020 plans didn’t change due to COVID-19. 

Bankers survey 2021

If you’re part of the 97% who felt like their plans changed completely, you’re not alone. Everyone in the industry is feeling the same turmoil.

2. Bankers overwhelmingly felt like closures hurt their business.

One of the more obvious points of change had to do with temporary branch closures, as a  full 87% of respondents said they felt these closures hurt their business.

Bankers survey 2021

What may be interesting here is that 12% disagreed that branch closures hurt their business. These numbers could either come from people in the industry who don’t work directly with branches or from financial institutions that don’t have a heavy focus on branches. It’s also possible that these respondents were those who quickly pivoted to digital strategies, including remote work, mobile banking, appointment-based branch meetings, and more. Those who took these initiatives in 2020 will almost certainly have the upper hand in 2021, especially since according to data in the Ultimate Guide to the New World of Banking 36% of consumers say they don’t plan on going into their bank branch as often as they did before the pandemic hit — even when it’s all over. 

3. There was a mixed reaction to having to pivot to remote work.

Along these same lines, 26% of respondents said that implementing remote-work policies didn’t hurt their institution in 2020.

Bankers survey 2021

Even though only a quarter of respondents felt this way, it’s quite notable that so many people felt that this monumental change in their daily work life didn’t negatively affect business. At the very least, it’s likely a signal that there’s a portion of the workforce in financial services who will likely push to continue some form of remote work, even if it’s a hybrid model. This will be a major source of discussion — and perhaps internal conflict — throughout 2021.

4. Bankers started the year with a focus on digital.

When asked for their most significant business objectives for 2020, respondents largely pointed to implementing financial wellness tools (29%) and digital experience initiatives (22%). This represents a much greater focus than branch strategy, which weighed in at 17%. 

Bankers survey 2021

5. In 2021, bankers plan to double down on digital and reduce their focus on branch strategy.

Perhaps in light of the branch closures in 2020 or perhaps in light of getting more comfortable with digital banking, bankers are gearing up to focus on digital experiences (29%) and financial wellness tools (25%) and less on branch banking (11%).

Bankers survey 2021

2021: The Year of the Money Experience

We have a lot more to share, including analysis around data initiatives and open banking — both of which are foundational to the money experience in 2021. As the pandemic has made clear, relying on physical branches and outdated money management practices are increasingly a non-starter. 2021 is the year of the money experience — a data-driven, personalized experience that nudges each user toward true financial strength.

Stay tuned for the upcoming blog posts on this survey and others by subscribing below.