In brief

In brief

  • Banks need to accelerate their journey to digital to survive the threats that tomorrow poses.
  • Digitally-focused banks benefited from market valuations that, on average, were 18% higher than less digitized peers in 2019, and 27% higher in 2020.
  • Banks come up short in their ability to scale 6 of the 8 characteristics that measure operating model maturity.
  • There are three ways for banks to speed up their move to future-ready operations—and outpace market demands.

Preparing for the volatile future of banking

Banks have always been committed to improving the efficiency of their operations, and for the most part, their progress has been steady. For a long time, that was sufficient.

But more recently, rising client expectations and regulatory requirements, technology-driven innovations, and the advent of aggressive new competitors (not to mention the operational demands of COVID-19), have exposed that banks’ operational evolution is lagging behind other industries.

Banks must become more agile and resilient to deal with the threats that tomorrow poses—whether they take the form of a resurgence of the pandemic, a financial crisis or a cyber-attack.

A power-boosting transformation strategy that injects intelligence and digital capabilities into their operations, across technology, processes and people, is essential for banks to stay competitive.

What's the upside of being a future-ready bank?

Digitally-focused banks have benefited from market valuations that, on average, were 18% higher than less digitized peers in 2019, and 27% higher in 2020.

Price to book value ratio

A graph showing how digitally innovative banks have benefitted from higher market valuations.

In fact, over the last eight years, these banks have managed to reduce their costs more than those that have been slower to embark on their journey to a digital operating model.

What’s more, their revenue on assets has not only been greater but has shrunk less than that of their less-digitized peers. The cost improvement, combined with their revenue advantage, means that they have managed to increase operating income per dollar of asset—jumping from 1.22 in 2011 to 1.47 in 2019.

Operating profits as a % of assets 2011 and 2019.

Chart of digital banking operating model profits​.

Shifting to a digital banking operating model

In a recent study, we found that while operating model maturity is advancing among organizations in all industries, banks are progressing slower than most. Our research and experience reveal four levels of operational maturity: stable, efficient, predictive and future-ready. Each level is grounded in and enabled by progressively more sophisticated technology, talent, processes and data insights.

Organizations that achieve a high level of maturity become "future-ready." They are fully focused on digital transformation (i.e. Digital Focused) and gain the agility and resilience needed to thrive amid uncertainty. They also—probably as a result—realize higher market valuations and derive more profit.

Banks have failed to scale in key innovation areas

Consider how we measure future readiness and why it matters. Being future-ready reflects an organization's ability to scale eight characteristics of operating model maturity. Banking comes up short in seven of the characteristics. Our research suggests that technology challenges are impeding banks from achieving operational transformation. This holds true particularly in areas such as artificial intelligence (AI), analytics and automation, each of which would complement banking’s strong data capabilities.

​Characteristics of operating model maturity

Knowledge is power

So how can banks push themselves and quickly evolve toward a future-ready state?

01. Know the ultimate goal

Banks that use scale and intelligent operations can improve customer experiences and business outcomes. Learn more.

02. Know the key steps

Automate at scale, augment human talent with technology and harness the power of cloud to transform the cost curve. Learn more.

03. Know how to leapfrog maturity levels

Tap into the power of building ecosystem relationships to decide whether to "make or buy." Learn more.

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The choice to change

Banks don’t have the luxury of maintaining their operational status quo. So much is changing so fast for them.

To keep up with what’s happening on the outside—in markets, with technology and customers—they need to evolve what’s happening on the inside. With intelligent operations, banks can realize the full value of digital banking: lowering costs, increasing resilience and taking the customer experience to the next level. The more they thread intelligence into their operations, the better positioned they will be to outmaneuver uncertainty and meet tomorrow’s performance aspirations.

Now is the time to make your move to intelligent operations. Here’s how:

  • Think big and go beyond incremental change
  • Enhance the value of data with technologies that deliver better insights faster
  • Scale automation, analytics, AI and integrated solutions with leading practices
  • Foster a human + machine, specialized workforce
  • Put a cloud infrastructure at the heart
  • Build complementary third-party and ecosystem relationships

It’s about reaching new levels of operational maturity to choose smarter, act faster and win sooner. It’s about becoming future-ready.

Reinventing banking operations to trigger growth

A European bank used automation, analytics and top talent to cut operating costs by 20-30%—freeing up resources to reinvest. Learn more.

The future of auto finance: a smoother ride​

A global bank reinvented its auto loans process–boosting car loan sales by 50% and cutting total costs. ​Learn more.

Becoming a future-ready profitable lender

A North American bank transformed its lending practices to better service and retain customers—savings $20M and avoiding $2B in exposure. Learn more.

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Roberto Pagella

Managing Director – Accenture Operations, Global Banking Operations Business Lead

Venkatraman (Ram) Iyer

Managing Director – Accenture Operations, Global Banking Operations Offering Lead


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