Banks in the GCC have returned to pre-crisis levels in terms of profitability, but they urgently need to enhance their capabilities and level of customer service, according to management consultancy firm AT Kearney.
The challenge will be to do this in an environment where cost-to-income ratios remain under pressure and cost management is a priority, AT Kearney said.
However, the firm said that the year ahead looks promising for the GCC banking sector. “The macro-economic environment remains favourable, despite the ongoing European crisis; growth opportunities exist in a number of geographies and sustained overall growth in GCC banking is expected,” it said.
AT Kearney experts suggest that banks invest in retail banking infrastructure and capabilities, wholesale banking and redefine priorities for external growth and international expansion.
“Country-specific opportunities exist, for example in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia where comparatively low banking penetration provides ample opportunities for growth,” said Alexander von Pock, principal at AT Kearney.
To reduce the rising cost pressure, the firm said that banks should optimize productivity across the entire bank, from front to back office.
“Efficiency improvement can yield significant savings, for example a structured approach to sales effectiveness can have a bottom line impact of 15 to 20 per cent,” said von Pock.