The Banking Oligopoly in One Chart
The “Big Four” retail banks in the United States collectively hold 45% of all customer bank deposits for a total of $4.6 trillion.
The fifth biggest retail bank, U.S. Bancorp, is nothing to sneeze at, either. It’s got 3,151 banking offices and employs 65,000 people. However, it still pales in comparison with the Big Four, holding only a mere $271 billion in deposits.
Today’s visualization looks at consolidation in the banking industry over the course of two decades. Between 1990 and 2010, eventually 37 banks would become JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Citigroup.
Of particular importance to note is the frequency of consolidation during the 2008 Financial Crisis, when the Big Four were able to gobble up weaker competitors that were overexposed to subprime mortgages. Washington Mutual, Bear Stearns, Countrywide Financial, Merrill Lynch, and Wachovia were all acquired during this time under great duress.
The Big Four is not likely to be challenged anytime soon. In fact, the Federal Reserve has noted in a 2014 paper that the number of new bank charters has basically dropped to zero.
From 2009 to 2013, only seven new banks were formed.
“This dramatic reduction in new bank charters could be a concern for policymakers, if as some suggest, the decline has been caused by increased regulatory burden imposed in response to the financial crisis,” the authors of the Federal Reserve paper write.
Competition from small banks has dried up as a result. A study by George Mason University found that over the last 15 years, the amount of small banks in the country has decreased by -28%.
Big banks, on the other hand, are doing relatively quite well. There are now 33% more big banks today than there were in 2000.
Why Anti-Money Laundering Should Be a Top Priority for Financial Institutions
Anti-money laundering cost financial institutions about $25.3B in 2018. How can organizations improve their processes & gain a competitive advantage?
Why AML Should be a Top Priority for Financial Institutions
The to-do list for any financial executive is surely daunting. From navigating technology changes to managing talent effectively, there’s many initiatives competing for attention.
One issue that’s been in the headlines for many years is anti-money laundering (AML). When criminals are able to successfully hide the illicit origins of their cash, both the financial institution and society suffer. So, what makes AML more important now than it has been in the past?
Rising up the Priority Ladder
Today’s infographic from McKinsey & Company explains the factors which have brought anti-money laundering urgently to the forefront in recent years.
1. Regulatory Action
Enforcement actions related to AML have been on the rise. Since 2009, regulators have levied approximately $32 billion in AML-related fines globally.
2. Threat Evolution
Criminals are using more sophisticated means to remain undetected, including globally-coordinated technology, insider information, and e-commerce schemes.
3. Reputational Risk
AML incidents put a financial institution’s reputation on the line. There’s a lot at stake: today, the average value of each of the top 10 bank brands is $45B.
4. Rising Costs
Most AML activities require significant manual effort, making them inefficient and difficult to scale. In 2018, it cost U.S. financial services firms about $25.3B to manage money laundering risk.
5. Poor Customer Experience
Compliance staff must have multiple touch points with a customer to gather and verify information. Perhaps not surprisingly, one in three financial institutions have lost potential customers due to inefficient or slow onboarding processes.
It’s no wonder anti-money laundering has now become a top priority for many CEOs in the financial industry.
A Wave of Innovation
In the last five years, there has been an explosion of “RegTech” startups—companies that address regulatory requirements using technology.
Global RegTech Investments, 2014-2018
|Year||Amount Invested (USD)|
Over 60% of these are focused on solving Know Your Customer (KYC) and AML issues. What does this technology look like in practice?
A hypothetical U.S. retail firm, ABC Electronics, applies online to open an account at AML Innovators Bank. Their information is verified and screened using a fully automated process.
If they are determined to be a lower-risk client, they will be fast-tracked through the approval process with decisioning in six hours or less. For high-risk clients, decisioning occurs within about 72 hours.
ABC Electronics requests to send multiple international wire payments to various beneficiaries. Each transaction is automatically screened based on various factors:
- A same name or subsidiary transfer carries the lowest risk
- Transfers to a known, similar industry in a high-risk jurisdiction carry medium risk
- Transfers to an unknown industry in a high-risk jurisdiction carry high risk
These transaction scores, combined with algorithms that track a client’s expected vs. actual transaction behavior, will update ABC Electronics’ risk rating in real time.
As risk updates occur, ABC Electronics’ rating is integrated into AML Innovator Bank’s overall portfolio risk.
Senior risk management teams will be able to view a heat map that highlights the highest risk areas of the business.
Structural Change, Big Gains
Just as financial crimes continue to evolve, so do AML schemes.
How can organizations stay ahead of the game? They can focus on actively managing risk, deliberately investing in technology and analytics, and prioritizing areas where RegTechs will have the highest near-term impact.
By investing in AML, financial institutions create competitive advantages:
- Improved efficiency
- Superior customer experience
- Readiness to adapt to new regulations
- Reduced reputational risk
- Ability to attract top talent
With such benefits on the table, one thing is clear: Anti-money laundering efforts are more important now than they have ever been.
Visualizing the Importance of Trust to the Banking Industry
In the digital age, the issue of trust is emerging as the game-changing factor in how consumers choose financial services brands.
Visualizing the Importance of Trust to the Banking Industry
In the digital age, money is becoming less tangible.
Not only is carrying physical cash more of a rarity, but we are now able to even make contactless payments for many of the products and services we use on the fly.
Our financial transactions are starting to be analyzed and optimized by artificial intelligence. Meanwhile, investments and bills are paid online, and even checks can now be deposited through our phones. Who has the time to visit a physical bank these days, anyways?
Trust in the Digital Age
The migration of financial services to the cloud is increasing access to banking solutions, while breaking down barriers of entry to the industry. It’s also creating opportunities for new service offerings that can leverage technology, data, and scale.
However, as today’s infographic from Raconteur shows, this digital migration has a crucial side effect: trust in financial services has emerged as a dominant driver of consumer activity.
This likely boils down to a couple major factors:
Financial services are becoming less grounded in physical experiences (using cash, visiting a branch, personal relationships, etc.)
- Personal Data
Consumers are rightfully concerned about how personal data gets treated in the digital age
Further, the above factors are compounded by memories of the 2008 Financial Crisis. These events not only damaged institutional reputations, but they elevated trust to become a key concern and selling point for consumers.
Trust, by the Numbers
In general, trust in banks has been slowly on the rise since hitting a low point in 2011 and 2012.
At the same time, consumers are consistently ranking trust as a more important factor in their decision of where to bank. To the modern consumer, trust even outweighs price.
Top Five Factors for Choosing a Bank:
- Ease and convenience of service (47%)
- Trust with the brand (45%)
- Price/rate (43%)
- Service resolution quality and timeliness (43%)
- Wide network coverage of ATMs (40%)
It’s important to recognize here that all five of the above factors rank quite closely in percentage terms. That said, while they are all crucial elements to a service offering, trust may be the most abstract one to try and tackle for companies in the space.
With this in mind, how can financial services leverage tech to increase the amount of trust that consumers have in them?
Tech Factors That Would Increase Consumer Trust:
- Reliable fraud protection (36%)
- Technology solves my problems (13%)
- Useful mobile application (9%)
Better fraud protection capability stands out as one major trust-builder, while designing technology that is useful and effective is another key area to consider.
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