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Strategies that financial services companies in China can employ to win over customers

The Accenture China Consumer Survey 2013 reveals insights on what financial services companies should to do in light of the rapidly changing financial sector.

Overview

Compared to global peers, China’s financial sector has been doing well since the onset of the global financial crises. However, the country’s financial sector is changing rapidly as executives face many challenges.

Market reforms such as interest rate liberalization and the update of digital technology have made it easier for foreign providers and other internet-based companies to enter the Chinese financial market and vie for market share.

In addition, with innovative business models powered by analytics, and deeply rooted in customer-centricity, internet-based companies have become strong competitors to the banks in segments such as payments, credits and insurance.

By creating direct channels for reaching out to their customer and understanding their needs, these companies have spread awareness about the many options available to customers.

Based on 3,000 consumers across 22 cities, The Accenture China Consumer Survey 2013 reveals that financial services companies need to use digital technology fully. This medium will help them build new relationships based on customer experiences if they hope to realize their growth potential.

Key Findings

The survey revealed five major insight categories to help financial institutions develop growth strategies for precisely targeting urban customers.

  1. Prudent consumers. Despite the prevalence of financial services in the country, customers are still prudent. They stay away from credit-based financial instruments. Nearly 50 percent of participants did not have a credit card, as cash is the primary payment method. House and car purchases are the major credit transactions.

  2. Picky customers. Chinese consumers are demanding, with a tendency to switch providers if they receive poor service. They are also willing to pay more for personalized high-quality advice than are consumers in the global market.

  3. The power of social. Consumers in China rely mainly on social networks for making financial investment decisions. They are keen to share opinion—both positive and negative on social media. While older people still prefer to be connected personally, younger people favor online.

  4. Getting old before getting rich. There is no social-safety net for consumers, and they are worried about their post-retirement income. They rely on pension plans and are increasingly investing more in wealth management schemes and insurance than in wealth creation plans and their children’s education.

  5. The next blue ocean-digital services. The density of bank branches is quite low in China compared to global markets. Moreover, accordingly to the survey, there’s a vast gap in online purchases of general products and financial products—at 70 and 20 percent respectively.

Recommendations

Accenture believes financial institutions need to develop strategies in four key areas to win over consumers in China:

  1. Understand the customer by using social media, data management and analytics to identify what the customers want and by distinguishing between the different customer clusters in the market.

  2. Gain a competitive edge by offering personalized experiences through customer insights gained by utilizing disruptive technology, analytics, personnel training, process refinement and brand building.

  3. Offer a unique customer experience by utilizing available information and business resources and by incorporating digital technology in operations, products and processes.

  4. Breakdown industry boundaries by initiating cross-border industrial operations as financial companies need to adjust market positions to meet the ever-growing demand of consumers.