Integrating Bank and Brokerage Services

CMO, Strategy and Advisory, Financial Services

Financial Services Perspective

Research confirms that across all industries, including financial services, customers want seamless service in a format that allows easy access to accounts, consideration of relevant options, and the ability to make changes in a simple manner.

They want to see all accounts and activities in one single location – and the ability to transfer funds from one account to another. Customers have low tolerance for firms that cannot deliver such service, regardless of the complications or back-office challenges to deliver such service. It’s critical for the firm to give the client what they want, when they want it - while still maintaining profitability. Customers don’t care to hear that regulations or infrastructure challenges create barriers for firms to deliver an ideal experience. They want firms to figure it out and deliver it. The advancement of technology has further validated customers’ perception that the ideal should be made real. It should be possible for firms to deliver seamless service. Customer expectations are set and firms that can’t deliver will likely lose wallet share.

With the passing of the Financial Services Modernization Act in 1999, many firms acquired, merged and consolidated, allowing them to offer a wide spectrum of products and services to meet the needs of their customers. Although it’s been well over a decade since the wave of consolidation began, true integration of bank and brokerage services is still an issue.

Customers want access, control, and help simplifying the complexities of their total financial lives. They want a panoramic view that includes their everyday banking accounts, loans, short-term and long-term investments, and the ability to easily move money from one account to another with a single-sign-on.

As firms try to meet these client needs, they face rapidly changing technology, consumer demands, regulatory requirements, and operational improvement expense challenges. Legacy systems and inefficient established processes further complicate the issue. Too often the customer experience is clunky, disjointed, and lacking a true, compelling value proposition. As a result, assets in motion from current clients transfer to competitors.

While the Modernization Act of 1999 removed the legal barriers allowing companies to integrate, a greater effort by the companies themselves is required to remove internal barriers that prevent an ideal customer experience. The larger the company, the greater the effort required to solve these challenges.

None-the-less, the race is on to solve this complex challenge and capitalize on the significant money in motion opportunities with consumers.


Understand your customers
Go beyond simply knowing your customer, understand them. It is more fundamental than customer experience and should start with house holding. Most financial service institutions have this view and yet some still struggle to recognize customer behavior patterns, the relationships between customers, and how much each specific customer is worth to the bottom line. Understanding these will help you more effectively direct your next advertising dollar.

Embrace compliance and regulatory requirements
Budget and plan for compliance and regulatory requirements as part of your integration strategy. To ensure you are prepared to comply and deliver ideal service there are key considerations you should address early in your planning phase. Engage compliance early in the planning process.

Develop compelling product offerings
Appeal to your audience, segment appropriately, and create offers that meet short-term and long-term needs. Understand product requirements (table stakes) versus true differentiators. The first are non-negotiable, while the others help define your brand. It’s critical to develop win/win scenarios for the firm and its customers to thrive.

Grow your business organically
A firm’s current clients are the key to cost-effective growth. Leverage what you know about your clients’ needs and preference to deliver meaningful solutions that demonstrate and differentiate the value you

Apply the Platinum Rule, not the Golden Rule
Treat your customers how they want to be treated, not how you think they should be treated. Offer service to your customers how, when, and where they want to be engaged. Develop a service model that breaks down internal silos and allows your consumers to experience your full range of capabilities.


Make It Easy — Facilitate simple online account set-up and funding capabilities.

Single Sign-On — Give each client one identity to access multiple accounts and products.

Single View — Show a panoramic view of the client’s financial life with full transactional capabilities; when, where, and how they want to engage.

Frictionless Financial Service — Update outdated legacy systems that interfere or make the customer experience clumsy and awkward — fluid money movement between accounts and ease in opening new accounts is critical.

Money Movement — Enable instant transfers with internal and external accounts.

Time For Play — Provide useful modeling tools that allow customers to consider the possibilities of their financial future.

Cash Management Capabilities — Provide automated and enhanced sweep capabilities that allow consumers to move excess money to interest-bearing deposit accounts. Help customers benefit from FDIC insurance by sweeping funds to different banks to extend protection limits.

Painless Payments — Offer comprehensive electronic payments and invoicing capabilities, including bill pay, account-to-account, and peerto-peer transfer capabilities; direct deposits; ATM/debit access; check writing; and over overdraft protection.

Remove The Clutter — Create a green, paperless environment with communications, statements, and messages from the firm—all online.

Show Your Detail — Provide quality data and performance management counts.

Enhanced Fraud Detection — Ensure data protection and help customers preemptively avoid fraud.


Develop a service model with clearly defined roles on how the client will be engaged and serviced. Your team of client service experts must deliver superior service and client offerings customized to that specific client’s needs. Understanding how to effectively execute a teaming approach is paramount to success. Your team must fully understand segments, personas, and business needs to create mutually beneficial opportunities. Your team needs to help clients make decisions in their best interest and this will ultimately ensure decisions are made in the firm’s best interest. Doing the right thing consistently, and with superior service for clients, delivers short-term and long-term results for firms. Integration is key and teams are likely to fail if they are not able to meet customer expectations. Effective teams must be armed with integrated tools and technology to be successful.


Once you decide to be a player in bank and brokerage integration and in providing customers with a seamless experience, there are a number of steps to take:

• Assess your firm’s current customer, business, and technological structure

• Identify opportunities for integration

• Socialize your plans to get key company players on the same page

North Highland’s unique combination of services and expertise in segmentation and persona development, process efficiencies, technology solutions, value proposition strategies, organizational design effectiveness, and integration implementation and execution makes us an ideal advisor in the process.


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