The Belgian banking industry is a crucial component of the country's financial sector and plays a pivotal role in its economic development. Over the years, this industry has undergone significant changes, driven by both global and domestic factors.
This year 2023 has been marked by instability and the banking industry is no exception: redundancies & reorganisations, recession and digitalisation are part of it. The COVID-19 pandemic has also had far-reaching consequences on the industry’s actors and customers.
Digitalisation has been key during the COVID-19 pandemic but it has led to significant redundancies at the banks levels. They are experiencing new ways of remote working with fewer agencies, employees and face-to-face customer contact. As a matter of fact, the number of local bank branches has fallen significantly over the last 4 years, which can be perceived as an abandonment by customers.
The current strategy is to bring employees together in imposing headquarters to which customers have no access. Operations are now mainly carried out via telephone, email and videoconferencing, which can raise questions. Indeed, all customers are not equal when it comes to digitalisation.
All clients are not used to apps and home banking to manage their banking products, which can lead to discrimination for certain segments of the population. Some banks are also outsourcing their activities abroad (Eastern Europe or Asia) to reduce costs and gain more flexibility in their activities. In addition, even if there has been a slight respite in the last few months, banking costs have practically only increased in recent years.
I strongly believe that digitalisation has positive impacts on operations but human contact is left out. Some customer segments are indeed privileged with their personal advisors, which can be seen as discrimination.
Banks mostly play an important role in the life milestones of their clients (loans, mortgages, insurance) and it’s crucial to be supported to make the right choices for the future.Back to overview