Disruption, distraction, and digital. These three words have defined the COVID world and will continue to dominate commercial banking well into 2021.

Last spring, commercial banks did something rather miraculous—in a matter of weeks, they stood up end-to-end digital loan and grant disbursement programs around the world, positively impacting nearly every SME, commercial and corporate client. In the moment, the industry witnessed first-hand the power of digital when it is unleashed in commercial banking.

Unfortunately, banks have not yet translated this incredible digital effort into their existing technology, capabilities or culture. In 2021, the commercial banks that make the pivot to the future, develop a clear and forceful strategy to deploy digital to their clients, and simultaneously shore up their digital foundation, will be set to own the Roaring Digital ‘20s.

But how, exactly? Following the success of our top trends forecast from last year, we set out to answer this question. After extensive internal deliberation and conversations with our clients and other industry experts, we’re excited to share our thinking. Here is what the global commercial banking team at Accenture forecasts will be the most important trends for the industry in 2021.

1. It's about digital fluency, TQ, and you

The chief digital officer could become obsolete as digitization becomes everyone’s responsibility.

2. Digital foundations aren’t built in a day

Banks will continue to invest in their digital foundations. It will take time for the returns to mature, but faith and patience will be rewarded.

3. Digital ROI is the name of the game

It may be a while before your digital foundation is complete, but you can start to harvest the benefits.

4. Digital experiences: Clients are taking notice

Customers see the power of digital in their personal lives daily. Banks need to get more serious about the business of experience.

5. From data experiments to actionable insights

By placing actionable data in the hands of RMs, loan officers and customers, banks will achieve tangible outcomes from data analytics solutions.

6. Every business is a fintech business

More and more firms are embedding financial services into their offerings and experiences. Banking as a service is becoming a game changer.

7. Responsibility gets real

Client demand for sustainability and social responsibility is driving banks to take actions that are good for them—and the world.

8. From disruption to distraction

Banks need to establish the right structures, portfolios, priorities, and leadership to sustain momentum and flourish through the year of distraction.

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Watch the American Banker Top Trends webinar

In this American Banker hosted webinar, Jared Rorrer, Global Commercial Banking Lead, and Chris Scislowicz, North America Credit Practice Lead, discuss these eight key trends for 2021 in detail.

We would love to hear your thoughts on the year ahead for commercial banking. If you would like to talk through any of the above trends, please reach out to your Accenture lead.

Jared Rorrer

Managing Director – Global Commercial Banking Lead


Chris Jaggard

Managing Director – Commercial Banking Lead, Accenture Australia & New Zealand

Chris Scislowicz

Managing Director – Credit Lead, North America

Keri Smith

Managing Director – Strategy & Consulting, Applied Intelligence, Analytics

Tom Merry

Managing Director – Accenture Strategy, Banking


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