Launched just three years ago, FCM Bank is the only bank in Malta to specialize solely in savings and fixed-term offerings. During a talk with Global Finance, chief operating officer Vincent Ma explained why FCM Bank has zeroed in on those two products.
Global Finance: Why have you chosen to offer only savings and fixed-term products?
Vincent Ma: We are savings specialists and we don’t want to be distracted by offering other products. By focusing on what we do best, we are able to provide the best savings products and services to help the customers save and achieve their goals, whatever they may be. We don’t have as many branches as the larger banks, and we are able to keep our operations lean and pass on these savings to our customers through higher and competitive interest rates.
GF: What’s the best way to encourage investors to switch to a new bank?
Ma: Making clients switch to a different bank is not an easy task, especially if they have been using the same bank for years. Customer inertia is key here, as the customer must be encouraged to action. One way of promoting this is by explaining how easy it is to become a customer and to provide an easy on-boarding process such as a simple online application and remove any other potential barriers.
Many banks often promote their great service offerings, but few actually deliver [on] their service promise. At FCM, all customer touch points are important, and we invite clients to meet with us for a personalized one-to-one meeting, where, over a cup of coffee, we take the time to understand their needs. We don’t advertise our services [as] being great—we prefer to let our loyal brand advocates deliver the message to their family, friends and colleagues.
GF: How important are analytics and data management in your business?
Ma: As customers demand more personalized services and products that suit the customer at the right time, banks are challenged to achieve an advantage over its competitors and increase the bottom line whilst improving productivity. Data and analytics help drive revenue growth through marketing, reducing costs and managing risks.
To acquire and retain new customers, we must examine and analyze customer behaviors and motivations. Next, we utilize these insights to attract and retain more valuable and loyal customers. The use of enhanced analytics and customer segmentation assists in providing a clearer view of customer behaviors and creates the right customer value proposition to meet any existing gaps in their needs.Finally, advanced elasticity-based pricing models discover differences in rate sensitivity, which will assist in providing a spread of customers against different margins and a more balanced portfolio.
Also, more investment in technology and staff and closer collaboration between product owners with treasury functions helps to manage the balance sheet effectively and improve pricing to gather customers.
GF: Is Malta a good springboard in which to launch a new bank before venturing further afield?
Ma: Malta has one of Europe’s lowest costs of operations and a very strong, robust and advanced regulatory environment, which is ideal for a new bank, given the challenging market conditions. The lower cost of labor allows FCM to leverage and utilize this competitive advantage for its growth operations within the EU, so keep watching this space.