Digital banking investments paying off

It is the reporting season and time to pour over bank annual reports and investor presentations. Personally, I love it, The joys of dissecting bank investor presentations and joining analyst calls, I admit, is not a task always universally popular with all on the editorial desk, writes Douglas Blakey

It is the reporting season and time to pour over bank annual reports and investor presentations. Personally, I love it, The joys of dissecting bank investor presentations and joining analyst calls, I admit, is not a task always universally popular with all on the editorial desk, writes Douglas Blakey

On occasions, there is also scope for a mild degree of humour.

Nothing but nothing can top Royal Bank of Scotland’s investor presentations just prior to its 12 April 2007 announcement that it was stalking ABN AMRO.

"We have no further acquisition targets in mind; Raise capital? – nope. Do not need it etc."

A good few snippets jump out in the current wave of investor presentations.

Take Barclays. It reported that it has enjoyed 18% growth in active customers of its digital banking channels in the past 12 months to hit 5.3m customers.

Meantime, Bank of America reported a 20% year-on-year increase in its number of active mobile banking users to 14.4m.

And while Bank of America accelerated its branch rightsizing programme – closing 6% of its branches in 12 months to shrink the network to 5,151 units – it actually increased its number of sales specialists, by 7% in 2013 to over 6,700.

Meantime, Wells Fargo posted impressive digital banking growth with internet banking and mobile banking customer numbers growing to 22.9m and 11.9m respectively.

Chase actually topped the big three US retail banks – its mobile banking customer numbers soared by 26% year-on-year to 15.6m.

There is a pattern developing here. At this risk of stating the blindingly obvious: the banks making prudent digital banking investments are seeing impressive growth in customer use.

Such banks tend to be among the most open and transparent in disclosing their digital channels customer numbers in their investor presentations.

I will resist meantime, naming and shaming some well known banks who make no mention of just how many of its customers are using digital channels.

"Such numbers are commercially sensitive", a bank in the US told me.

Cannot think what they had to hide.