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SAP Survey Reveals Banks Believe They No Longer Control Their Own Destiny


External Variables Such as the Credit Crisis Will Shape the Future Landscape of the Industry, Potentially Rendering Banks Ineffective, According to Survey of European Banks and Industry Observers

WALLDORF, Germany - In the wake of economic and demographic shifts, 82 percent of European bankers feel that external factors such as the credit crisis will increasingly determine the future of their industry, more so than internal changes they can initiate. The findings come from a new survey commissioned by SAP AG (NYSE: SAP) and conducted by Novametrie, polling leading banking officials and external industry observers – economists and academics – on the future of banking over the next 10 years in light of the current environment.

According to one respondent, “There is not much that we can do about it. [The crisis] will limit credit activity, limit growth and limit customer relationships.” Other key findings from the survey include:

* Half of all bank executives believe that the credit crisis is part of a long-term transformation of the industry.
* More than 70 percent of respondents identify growing customer sophistication, ongoing change in the financial markets, globalization and competitive pressure as external catalysts for change in the industry.
* Nineteen percent identified information technology (IT) utilization as a success factor, even though many current banks run outdated, expensive and inflexible IT infrastructures. The limited emphasis given to business intelligence investments indicates that banks are not fully using the technology available to them to enhance customer care and turn these catalysts into business opportunities.
* Banks are aware of the need to adapt; over 85 percent of respondents list distribution channels and customer relationships as key investments by today’s banks.
* Management competence was identified as the most important internal success factor by 41 percent of the bankers interviewed.

“The overall impression from this survey is that banks are not creating their own destinies,” said one of many industry observers polled, Arnoud De Meyer, director of the Judge Business School at Cambridge University. “They see themselves as victims of the crisis, and are willing to let the current state of the industry determine where they go from here, not where they envision themselves to be 10 to 20 years from now. The future of this industry will remain scattered if they allow themselves to be blown like leaves in the prevailing winds.”

Planning Ahead
Current investments by banks, the survey found, tend to be short-sighted. They are aimed at retaining marketshare in the present, with a limited long-term structure in place to grow their business. For example, banking respondents understand the rise of a new generation of customers that are not attached to any traditional banking model. One is a youthful niche of customers who are using new channels such as the Internet and mobile technology as their primary banking conduits. Additional customers segments are being carved out through changing demographic shifts among the elderly and immigrants.

However, according to the outside experts surveyed, banks are not laying enough of a foundation to capture these emerging niches. Several observers noted that banks are more focused on the internal needs of their businesses rather than developing an understanding of customers that would spur more variety and flexibility in standard services and IT infrastructure. As one respondent stated, “Banks talk about being customer-centric, but they are not.”

“What makes this survey so important for banks is that it provides that outside perspective that you can’t get from the echo chamber of your industry peers,” said Johan Kestens, senior vice president, line of business financial services, SAP AG. “In this case, it revealed a holding pattern where banks are just doing enough to keep their heads above water. They need to start thinking more strategically in order to take advantage of the opportunities that are knocking on their door.”

Distilling the suggestions and comments captured by the survey, as well as having industry knowledge, SAP believes banks could reassess their investments in nine key areas:

* Customer management should be the overarching long-time focus of banks
* Integration of distribution channels
* Risk management protection for all involved stakeholders.
* Business processes that are automated and standardized across the enterprise, empowering business intelligence tools
* Adopting outsourcing and insourcing strategies
* Meta-management of business knowledge involving reporting transparency, regulation and compliance
* Creating a visible and tangible corporate social responsibility platform
* Incorporating talented, knowledgeable personnel within all enterprise levels, acting as agents of change
* Brand management to restore credibility lost during the crisis

About the Study
The methodology for this research was based on a series of interviews conducted with 38 top executives from leading banks in Eastern and Western Europe. To capture an outside perspective on the industry, eight industry observers from the fields of economics, sociology, demography, mathematics and science were also interviewed for their insights on the external factors that increasingly influence the financial services industry. To obtain the full report of the findings, please contact: Marie-Laure Le Magueresse,

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About SAP for Banking
The SAP® for Banking solution portfolio provides banking-specific (transactional banking, CRM, risk management) and banking-relevant (financial accounting, human resources management, procurement) services and solutions created on a single SOA-enabled platform. With more than 680 customers in 73 countries worldwide, SAP for Banking provides an integrated set of tools and automated processes to manage every aspect of the front- and back-office banking environment—from high-volume transactional banking processes and customer relationship management to financial accounting, cost controlling and profitability and risk analysis. Based on the open architecture of the SAP NetWeaver® technology platform, SAP for Banking helps companies expertly manage transactions and relationships across the institution to quickly identify and exploit market opportunities and easily tailor new products to the specific needs of individual customers

About SAP
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(*) SAP defines business software as comprising enterprise resource planning and related applications.

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