Interaction between clients and bank staff continues to be largely product-driven, rather than focused on assessing client needs, according to the latest survey by Dalbar.

The Trends & Best Practices in the Retail Branch Client Experience report is based on mystery shoppers conducting 200 unique visits in different branches, both urban and rural, across Ontario. These results were combined with an equal number of objective third party bank branch visits, yielded a dataset of 400 unique experiences.

“We encountered a lot of pleasant interactions, but few that truly represented a holistic discussion around a client’s financial plan,” says David Fang, senior research analyst at Dalbar. “Representatives were eager to promote certain products, but it is crucial that these products are appropriate in the spectrum of a client’s investment strategy and portfolio.

The result was a client experience that left the impression of pushy and aggressive sales force.

What’s the takeaway? For the banks, they should probably start training their branch reps to conduct better needs analysis, or at the very least, better communicate how a specific product fits into the client’s financial picture.

“Banks are promoting that their experiences are superior, but the actual conversations are still product-driven, if you really listen to them,” says Anita Lo, Dalbar’s vice-president of Canadian strategy. “Training needs to be more fine-tuned in putting the client first, and the product second.”

For non-bank advisors, this is an opportunity to differentiate your service offering. Continued focus on needs analysis and holistic financial planning should result in a more engaging client experience, rather than the client feeling they are simply facing a salesperson.

So how did Canada’s big five banks score?

  1. TD Bank Financial Group (78.8)
  2. BMO Financial Group (75.7)
  3. Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (74.2)

  5. RBC Royal Bank (72.8)
  6. Scotiabank (69.1)