Pub. 2 2021 Issue 2 16 In Touch BY SHANE FERRELL, CSI How Are Banking Strategies Evolving in 2021? A s s o c i a t e M e m b e r T o understand how bankers will prioritize their digital strategies in light of the tumultuous year that was 2020, CSI — a leading provider of fintech and regtech solutions — polled banking executives from around the country, representing 272 financial institutions from across the asset-size spectrum. The data from this survey was then collected and used to create an executive report to help bankers gain insight into the industry’s hottest topics and strategies. What Did Bankers Have to Say? It’s hardly surprising that, when asked about the future of the industry in CSI’s 2021 Banking Priorities Executive Report, digital transformation thematically unified every priority. While taking stock of their 2020 performance and assessing the year ahead, banking executives almost unanimously agreed: Digital use will likely not return to pre-COVID levels. Bankers began the survey by reflecting upon the past year with this question: please rate your bank’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the following areas on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest. • In CSI’s survey, 97% of bankers acknowledged an irrevocable change in consumer behavior when asked whether they expected digital channel use to increase at their institution even after the virus stabilizes. • Bankers gave themselves good scores in two areas related to their pandemic response: maintaining in- branch safety (4.3/5) and Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loan Disbursement (4.3/5). • However, bankers identified key areas for improvement as well, including transitioning to digital channels (3.8/5) and managing a remote workforce (3.7/5). The takeaways? To facilitate seamless transitions to digital, institutions must obtain a better understanding of digital channels and how customers want to use them. And as bankers navigate the challenges of the pandemic and manage remote workforces, cybersecurity debriefs should be conducted to identify all the challenge areas. Reviewing internal controls to ensure all networks, devices, accounts, and systems are adequately patched will also enhance cybersecurity for remote workforces. Addressing the Top Challenges for 2021 The CSI survey also explored the challenges facing bankers this year, asking respondents to identify which one issue will most affect the financial industry in 2021. • Over one-third of bankers (34%) identified cybersecurity as the top industry issue in 2021. As institutions face this evolving threat, cybersecurity frameworks, such as the CS I Controls, help identify strengths and weaknesses to ensure budget dollars are effectively allocated. Beyond basic cyber hygiene, a robust framework should include due diligence on third-party service providers’ cybersecurity controls and appropriate safety mechanisms like biometrics to protect customers. • As more consumers use digital channels, nearly 20% of bankers rank meeting customer expectations as the top issue this year. Customers increasingly demand seamless experiences, but prioritizing new technologies and striving to balance digital with the human element creates a dilemma for institutions. While embracing the appropriate technologies is essential, effective digital transformation requires a strategic view of immediate customer demand. The right data leveraged from a robust CRM tool can better inform you of products and services matched to consumer needs. • With regulatory agencies struggling to keep pace with changing technologies, 17% of bankers name regulatory change as the top issue. Data privacy and BSA/ AML modernization are among the highest priorities in the realm of