July 11, 2019,   4:58 PM

Do You Trust Your Banker?

Deepak Ahuja



Lawyers, accountants, doctors and bankers are constantly in possession of people’s private and personal information, and people trust them as a result. But they are not all created equal.

Lawyers must study intensively and spend years understanding case and client processes before they are put in front of fee-paying clients. Accountants must pass exams and certifications for people to trust their approach to dealing with business transactions and financial records. Doctors go through rigorous theoretical and practical tests, as well as fitness-to-practice evaluations.

However, bankers in the UAE do not currently have to go through any certifications or standardised qualifications. Job listings in the sector rarely require any proof of education and roles are more likely to be dependent on the number of years of experience in the sector. When was the last time you checked if your banker—the person entrusted to look after your personal and business capital—had any qualifications? Where people do not have the appropriate training or expertise is where issues can arise. Untrained bank representatives are more likely to provide incorrect advice, they lack the knowledge to guide their customers in the right way and their skills gap can even limit their own careers.

A 2017 study by the UAE Banks Federation revealed that trust levels in the UAE banking sector were at 68%. The question is how can we get that to 100% trust?

In the case of doctors, they must not only learn and study the practical skills required of their job, but also the ethical boundaries and moral conscience of the role. Fortunately, the UAE leads the way in the region in ensuring the very highest standards of customer satisfaction in these fields. According to a Service Hero report, the UAE has registered a two-point growth in overall customer satisfaction index (CSI) in 2017 as the country scored a total of 77.7 satisfaction rate.

In the banking sector, customers regularly receive happiness surveys. According to a 2015 study by Mohammed Bin Rashid School of Government, customers were satisfied with the reputation of their bank, but there was high dissatisfaction with customer service experiences over the phone. With the appropriate qualifications, bankers could reinforce confidence and trust, leading to happier consumers.

There are various different qualifications that bankers can take around the globe, which are mandatory in some countries or voluntary in others. The Retail Banking Academy in London is bridging the gap for retail banking professionals, as the only educational and professional body in the world dedicated to certification and training in retail banking. The organization recently brought its courses to the UAE to promote the status of retail bankers as internationally recognised professionals.

The first module that participants study around the world with organisations such as RBA is ethics and compliance. This demonstrates the vital foundation of setting the boundaries from the very beginning of a banker’s career. Junior bankers learn how to understand the rights and wrongs of banking practice, adding an extra layer of protection for customers.

The UAE is going through incredible transformation. With the recent announcement of long-term UAE residency visas for certain expatriates, more individuals will live in the UAE and hence the need for consistent, reliable banking products and services for its growing population.  For such a young country, it has come so far already, pioneering future innovations that will propel it forward for generations to come. When it comes to banking, technological ingenuity could change the way we interact with money and our personal finance.

For example, Emirates NBD recently announced a collaboration with Amazon Web Services, part of Amazon.com, to build a personalized retail customer banking experience, using data analytics, Internet of Things and Natural Language Processing, to simplify banking for customers.

However, technology only goes so far. Robots or AI will not replace the personal touch of genuine, impartial advice and human interaction anytime soon, because unlike humans, robots lack key attributes such as empathy and creativity. In the retail banking sector, personalised service from well-trained individuals will play a vital role in retaining customers. For the UAE to be the best in the world at banking, training, qualifications and minimum standards are a must have.

Deepak Ahuja, CEO of NADIA Global.





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