Personalisation – the Future of Banking.


In the highly competitive financial services sector, fintech companies are revolutionising banking - incentivising traditional firms to develop better products and provide customers with a better experience. Consumers now expect mass personalisation in their digital experiences - think Netflix suggestions. In the same light, we have seen first hand that consumers are starting to demand the same customised experience from their financial services. This includes personalised offers, advice and alerts, as well as personalised products and services based on usage or behavior.

According to Adobe, “60% of marketers struggle to personalise content in real-time, yet 77% believe real-time personalisation is crucial.”

So what’s the catch and how can we bridge that gap?

We have seen over and over again that consumers rely on technology to make their lives easier and expect the same level of simplicity and intuitive interaction from banks. This has resulted in consumers leaning towards online banking and utilising banking apps, rather than standing in a dreaded queue at the bank. According to HSBC, 87% of their global retail banking transactions are now digital.

As reported in a 2019 HSBC report, in the next 10 years technology will have advanced in such a way that enables banks to offer customers “personalised financial support, instant home-buying decisions and even tougher cybersecurity”. The motivator for this change is largely driven by advancements in artificial intelligence and advanced data storage options. Both opening up opportunities and unlocking the power of “Big Data”. This feeds personalisation tools and gives us the opportunity to analyse huge amounts of data and use it to our advantage. However, the overbearing challenge lies in the ability to convert the data into actionable insights. This requires data focused analytical skills, the right tools and the ability to execute the result in real time.

Technology is not a new concept for the financial industry. Let’s not forget during the 1960’s, banks were some of the first to invest in mainstream computers for record keeping and reduce the use of paper. Fast forward to 2020, online and mobile app banking are becoming the norm - however, providing a digital portal is not enough. According to HSBC, The financial industry has been slower to adapt to providing seamless and tailored digital experiences to their customers. Banks of the future will set themselves apart by being able to personalise their products and services towards the needs of the user, as well as their online experience.

While the benefits are obvious and the implementation possible, Banks clearly understand that providing real-time insight is a major advantage of digital-only banks and fintech providers. In a survey done by Epsilon, 76% of Bank executives believed that personalisation had a “major” or “strong’ impact on relationship building.
Still, data-driven personalisation still comes with its challenges. It is a fine balancing act between embracing data analytics, behavioural patterns of the user, respecting customer data preferences and choosing the right technology to help you reach your personalisation goals.

What does personalisation in banking mean?

Personalisation takes advantage of real-time data and cutting-edge technologies (including Sitecore) to deliver relevant product or service information to existing and potential clients.

So where do banks stand with personalisation? To determine the “personalisation maturity” of financial institutions, Epsilon asked respondents to rate themselves as “Advanced”, “Emerging”, “Static” or having “No Plans” to provide contextual, personalised insights and solutions to consumers.
As would be expected, the largest financial institutions had the highest self-assessment around the ability to provide real-time contextual guidance. That said, less than 20% of the large national and regional banks considered themselves “Advanced” in this capability.

While it was somewhat encouraging that almost 60% of financial organisations in all asset ranges considered themselves as “Emerging” (10% higher than in 2016), the overall percentage of institutions believing they were “Advanced” is lower than in 2016. Bottom line, 94% of financial institutions are still unable to deliver on the “personalisation promise.”

The 2019 global financial services study by Accenture states that to unlock value from this data bank and develop tailored products and services, many financial providers are turning to predictive AI algorithms. These algorithms identify correlations between variables such as age, gender and income, to more complex behaviour patterns such as purchasing behaviour and use of location-based services. Financial services providers can use AI to create increasingly detailed personas and predict purchasing behaviour across channels and products.


We believe a truly personalised online financial experience is powered by... DATA. Banks already have access to real-time behavioural customer data from online and offline purchases, website sessions, engagements and interactions via kiosks, email and mobile applications. To conclude, banks hold vast amounts of data, all of which can be harvested, and meaningfully translated to create an individual and personal experience. Another interesting result from the study done by Epsilon , was that when financial institutions were asked about the importance of knowing their customers’ and members’ personal financial situations. Only 16% of organisations surveyed didn’t think it was either “very” or “extremely” important to know their customers/members.

The more information a financial institution can legally collect about a consumer, the easier it is to provide services that are truly relevant to an individual’s specific requirements and amplify cross-selling by managing the communication stream across multiple channels.

According to Accenture’s 2019 Global Financial Services Consumer Study, the survey suggests that customers understand this and are therefore prepared to hand over more personal information in return for more tailored services such as personalised offers, more efficient and intuitive services, and more competitive pricing.

However, I have experienced that a combination of disconnected data and the lack of automated decision-making from a central source can cause the major blocker for banks wanting to take the leap into the future. The Drowning in data, but starving for insights report from Deloitte suggests that data sources often become so dispersed, duplicative, and siloed that “companies don’t know what data they already have, where it lives, what may be useful, or how to turn it into meaningful insights that they can act upon.”

Building Data Trust

In 2018, the UK introduced “the Open Banking Standard”, a new piece of legislation under which “banking data will be shared through secure open APIs so that customers, be it individuals or businesses, can more effectively manage their wealth.” UK-regulated banks therefore have to allow customers to share their financial data such as spending habits, transactions and external company usage with authorised providers – as long as the user has granted permission.

What does this mean for banks? Sagittarius believes it will bring more competition and innovation to financial services. According to a UK FinTech Open Banking Snapshot survey done by EY, 94% of Fintechs said Open Banking is a major opportunity, 81% are actively preparing for the opportunities it presents and 29% already consider themselves prepared.

At Sagittarius, we have found that consumers are willing to share data in return for tailored experiences. Therefore trust is a must for this new exchange as banks become the custodians of their customers' digital profiles.

“smart technologies provide a way to ensure transparency of data but also provide a clear recorded ‘paper-trail’ that allows banks and regulators to retrace their steps and pinpoint any errors”. HSBC’s 2019 Banking of The Future.

Another interesting point made by HSBC, is this “trust” building could even take the form of the future bank statement – which will include a summary of how your digital ID profile is developing and who your data has been shared with.

Over time, consumers can expect greater innovation in return for sharing their data, and providers that are able to identify attractive data-driven services for different customer segments stand to gain a stronger competitive advantage. An example of a value added personalised service for banking consumers is the “Emma” banking application. Coined as “Meet Emma, your best financial friend” , the app allows you to connect all your accounts into one place which helps you manage all your transactions, subscriptions etc.

The Right Customer Data Tools

As stated above, banks already have access to large amounts of customer data. So what is the next step?

As stated above, a major blocker for the financial industry pursuing personalisation is a lack of technological investment. In addition to this, investing in technology that can help achieve your personalisation goals is not enough. Skills associated with planning and strategy go in hand in hand with the technology. CMS platforms such as Sitecore provide companies with tools that allow you to connect to all your data sources and integrate across disparate systems to create a single view of your business or customer.

What does the future look like?

To quote Scott Andrick, Sr. Director – FS Sales & Marketing Pegasystems Inc, “To create personalised, insightful experiences, banks will need analytics for every single outreach and interaction. Those that think this sounds impossible couldn’t be further from the truth – and will quickly fall behind their competitors. Today’s AI and machine learning capabilities automatically creates self-learning models – efficiently and in real-time – so that customers get the best possible contextual experience with each interaction.”

More financial institutions are seeing the benefits of personalisation, thanks to new digital applications and advances in analytics and data.

In the 2019 report from HSBC, they predict that the future involves banks analysing their spending habits and providing them with tailored recommendations on investing and saving. It also involves pulling in public data to support their customer. For example, banks could also facilitate savings suggestions, such as switching your car insurance provider to save money – or even switch automatically on a customer’s behalf if they allow it. Personalised services should constantly aim at demonstrating added value.

We have seen a rise in ChatBots over the last year, so what’s stopping mobile banking services from incorporating the next level such as augmented reality and voice activation.
Let’s take the example of dreaming about your dream car. You take a picture of this car and upload it into your mobile banking application and within minutes you are provided with a report detailing your estimated monthly payments could be as well as providing you with public information such as taxes and carbon emission levels. Again, it’s about connecting data into a central point. Technology is also opening up new ways of keeping people and the financial system safe.

According to HSBC, they predict to be a success in the future it will require a balancing act between a series of trade-offs between what technology and data enable, in terms of improving customer experiences, with the absolutely fundamental need to ensure the highest customer standards are upheld and the integrity of the financial system is maintained.


President of the Institute for the Future, Roy Amara, famously coined, “we tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run.” It is a challenging task to envision how technology will shape banking the next few years.

However, banks will be left in the dust if they do not capitalise on the data and AI opportunities.

If you would like to discuss how Sagittarius can take your business forward in 2020 with personalised digital experiences, get in touch via phone on 01233 467800 or email, we’d love to hear from you!


Lauren Hill
Lauren Hill
Project Manager
Prior to working at Sagittarius Lauren was based in a Digital Agency in South Africa where she oversaw digital projects focusing on website design and development as well as Social Media. Lauren also has a Bachelor of Commerce Degree in Marketing & Management Sciences and thrives on watching brands grow and being a part of this process, from beginning to end. 
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