Nearly 70% of U.S. consumers would provide banks with more private information in exchange for more personalized services, higher security against identity theft, and more simplicity in managing their finances, according to a study by Cisco.

The Cisco Customer Experience Report, which focused on retail banking, analyzed consumers’ desires for a more personalized banking experience over multiple channels, including online, mobile, telephones, video conferencing, and bank branches.

Conducted in early 2013, the global report includes responses from more than 1,500 consumers and 405 bank professionals spanning 10 countries. The report studied the views of how and when consumers want to engage with their banks across multiple channels for activities ranging from account monitoring to acquiring financial advice. 

Study respondents pointed to the following attributes as most important when interacting with their financial institutions: Efficiency (68%); competence (65%); and availability (63%). Consumers are willing to exchange more details about their financial habits if banks become active advisors in exchange for greater protection from identity theft (83%), increased savings (80%), personalized service (78%), and greater simplicity (56%) in managing their finances.

What’s more, 70% indicated being comfortable with the increasing use of virtual communications in addition to in-person financial conversations.

Interestingly, only 45% of U.S. consumers feel their bank has enough information to offer them personal services, while 58% of bankers feel they have enough personal information on their customers to provide those services.

Al Slamecka, global marketing head of financial services for Cisco, told Loyalty 360 that the future of retail banking for consumers lies with access and personalization. Slamecka said the top three attributes for consumers interacting with financial institutions aren’t surprising, but what is interesting is that these aspects are becoming more and more linked on a daily basis.

More consumers, Slamecka said, are basing their views of financial institutions on their ability to deliver across those three attributes.

“If banks can deliver across these three areas, there is a higher capability of delivering greater access,” Slamecka said. “Consumers need truly personalized services. They want banks to protect them, offer advice about improving financial performance, and teach them.”

Regarding private information, more than half (53%) of U.S. consumers would provide their bank with a fingerprint or other biometrics to verify financial transactions to protect the consumer against dangers such as identity theft. Globally, 61% of consumers would share biometric data, with Japanese consumers least likely with only 31% and Chinese consumers are most likely at 94%.

Also, 60% of U.S. consumers would provide additional personal information to receive greater simplicity in managing their finances. But, 57% of U.S. consumers would not want their bank to share their personal information outside the bank, even if it improves quality of service.

More than 60% of U.S. consumers are comfortable communicating with their financial provider using technology (such as texting, email, or video). Globally, 7 in 10 consumers and 92% of bankers are comfortable communicating using virtual technology. Only 28% of U.S. consumers favored smartphones for video conversations with bankers, while 72% preferred a laptop or desktop computer.

Only 36% of U.S. consumers would open an account with a bank that is completely virtual if it offered the best and more secure services – contrasted by 60% of consumers globally who would open accounts with virtual banks.

Slamecka said there has been an “explosion” around personal financial management and mobile banking apps could play a large role in more of a predictive model in the future.

“Many institutions are surprised how quickly consumers are taking to digital channels and mobile banking,” Slamecka said. “I’ve seen as high as 55% so there is significant growth in that area that will continue.”

Slamecka sees the future of banking involving “high tech and high touch” components and availability across all channels involving “front-end conversations. The strongest banking relationships involve advisory services. High touch is a bank’s ability to have an interaction rather than a transaction.”

Slamecka was most surprised by the percentage of consumers (45%) who say banks don’t know them well enough compared to 63% of financial institutions believing they have enough information to deliver more personalized services.

“This sets up an opportunity for bankers to create greater brand loyalty and deliver value-added service to convince customers,” Slamecka said. “We see that banks are actively trying to do that. They realize the value of the data they have. Banks are looking holistically to understand from a product perspective and delivery perspective and how they deliver an integrated experience across all channels.”

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