BNP Paribas Fortis: The "James" Banking Experience
(11 pages of text)
In October 2015, three senior managers at BNP Paribas Fortis, the leader in retail banking in Belgium and a subsidiary of the BNP Paribas Group, were discussing how to take the bank’s latest service, “James,” to the next level and grow its customer base fivefold by the end of 2016. Launched in 2009, James was a unique investment portfolio advice service that substituted web conferencing technology for face-to-face interaction between advisors and affluent banking customers. An important feature of the James banking experience was that each customer mainly interacted with the same advisor, and was able to do so from virtually any location, outside regular office hours. The use of technology to build strong customer relationships from a distance proved beneficial for both the customers and the bank. Now the BNP Paribas Fortis managers had to decide how to expand James’ customer base, outpace the competition, and organize for growth. How could they grow the country’s current base of nearly 20,000 James customers to 100,000 in just one year?
This case teaches students about the implications of using digital technologies for customer interactions in retail banking. Because of its multi-dimensional nature, the case can be used in a course on core strategy, marketing, or information and communication technology. It can also be used in a specialized course on digital strategy or digital marketing. The case appeals to students at all levels, including undergraduate, MBA, and executive education. It gives students the opportunity to do the following:
- Evaluate the way that BNP Paribas Fortis introduced and expanded James, a technology-mediated service for offering investment portfolio advice to its affluent customers, and the challenges it faced in expanding such a service.
- Understand how digital technologies can be deployed in the market for personal investment advice.
- Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of technology-mediated personal advice versus traditional face-to-face advice, and of human versus automated advice (i.e., “robo-advisers”).
Finance and Insurance
Belgium, Large, 2015
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