The return of relationship banking

We have heard much in recent months on banks going “back to basics” and pursuing a relationship banking approach. One of the recent manifestations of this approach is the provision of financial needs assessment, which enables the banker to develop a closer relationship with the customer, as well as providing a platform for marketing financial products and services.

–In introducing new checking accounts, Fifth Third Bank is placing a good deal of emphasis on its free Financial Needs Assessment

–A recent U.S. Bancorp presentation highlighted that it is pursuing a relationship banking approach by offering relationship reviews as well as product packages. Almost half of new U.S. Bank DDA customers are selecting a Consumer Package.


Banks cannot just automatically switch from a product-centric to a relationship banking model.  In effecting this transition, marketing and sales support (in particular, training and providing support tools to branch personnel) play key roles.  In addition, product development needs to switch from a silo-based approach (often with different product units within a bank competing for the customer’s attention), to a solutions-based model, centered on customer needs and behaviors, and a longer-term payoff.