Oct 6, 2017 at 12:00am ET By Joanna Hughes

When you withdraw money from a local ATM or apply online for a personal bank loan, you may not give the mechanisms behind these processes much thought. However, these (along with an extensive range of other services) fall under the umbrella of “retail banking” -- the banking segment which deals directly with consumers.  While this may sound less flashy and/or high-powered than commercial banking, the reasons to pursue a career in this red-hot field are many. Read on for a closer look at how online studies in retail banking can help you gain a vital inside edge, along with several programs offering the opportunity to do exactly that.  

A Booming Field

We are living in the age of the consumer. Says Forrester, “Empowered customers are shaping business strategy. Simply put, customers expect consistent and high-value in-person and digital experiences. They don’t care if building these experiences is hard or requires a complex, multifunction approach from across your business. They want immediate value and will go elsewhere if you can’t provide it.”  

It follows that the age of the consumer also represents a new era for retail banking -- and plenty of chances to innovate for those with the knowledge, skills training and experience to do so.  

Says Omar Ali, head of EY’s EMEIA retail banking advisory team, of the results of an EY survey of 298 senior retail bankers across Europe, “The industry cannot continue as it is and generate returns that will satisfy investors. The survey results show that the days of selling opaque and complex products through expensive channels, using antiquated systems and processes, has gone – banks realize that they need to re-connect with consumers in order to protect their margins and their market share.”  

Career Growth Potential Abounds

But you don’t have to be at the beginning of your career to benefit from online studies in retail banking. If you already work in banking or finance, online coursework opens up new doors to advancing your qualifications -- without stepping off of the track you’re on. Studying online gives you the opportunity to pursue studies which match your career goals, gain management and leadership technologies, and increase your earning potential -- all with the flexibility to meet your ongoing personal and professional commitments.  

A Future-Facing Stance

The debut of ATMs kicked off a retail banking revolution 50 years ago. As online banking has entered the mainstream, meanwhile, the balance of power continued to transfer from banks to consumers. Says Bob’s Guide of the phenomenon, “In an increasingly competitive [retail] banking environment, consumers found themselves spoilt for choice as their banks increasingly tried to tailor their services to their customers’ changing lifestyles.”   

But we’re just at the start. Continues Bob’s Guide, “No industry can stand still, however, particularly as a new generation of consumers accustomed to smart and connected technologies has become an important market segment. This customer base has helped to drive a new technology revolution, as the retail companies they use have turned to Artificial Intelligence (AI) as a way to provide them with ‘always-on’ service. The financial services industry must be aware: ignoring this next step forward in technology could see their organizations fall out of step with their innovative competitors working in the payments and tech space.”  

Adds a report from Roland Berger, “Digital Revolution in Retail Banking,” “Digitization has already changed customer expectations and behaviors in nearly every sector, and retail banking is no exception. In Germany, 63% already do their everyday banking online, and 55% would like to see brick-and-mortar branches offer more innovative customer experiences and services.”  

All of which is a long way of saying: Where best to learn but in the digital landscape where banking innovation lives?  

Online Programs in Retail Banking

As many banks endeavor to build their retail banking programs, online coursework is a savvy choice for students and professionals seeking to enrich their knowledge of and marketability within the retail banking industry.  

Take the Retail Banking Academy’s Certified Retail Banker Programme, for example. Designed to introduce candidates to the theoretical and practical core competencies necessary for navigating retail banking’s growing complexities, this 10-module course, comprising topics ranging from business ethics and compliance to credit loss management, can be completed in less than two years and is targeted toward retail bankers looking to enhance and expand their banking knowledge.  

Want to acquire sought-after retail banking expertise in even less time? Consider GBRW Consulting’s suite of retail banking training courses, including a two-day course on Digital Retail Banking focused on helping bankers develop an increased understanding of retail banking’s key elements and a more targeted three-day course on Building a Competitive Retail Banking Business which addresses industry-specific challenges. Both courses are facilitated by leading retail banking professional David Cavel.  

The takeaway for today’s aspiring retail banking leaders of tomorrow? Whether you’re just starting your banking or finance career or are already working in the industry and aiming to level up, online studies in retail banking may be a smart strategy for success.  

Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.

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