Monday, June 13, 2011

"Underserved" market is opportunity for banks

Posted by Mark Brousseau

The “underserved” market is considered one of the fastest growing segments in the United States and represents significant potential for banks willing to develop new products and services -- with the appropriate risk safeguards -- and channels to distribute them, according to a study from KPMG.

The KPMG study characterizes the underserved market -- the unbanked (consumers without a transaction account) and underbanked (those without access to incremental credit) -- as having grown significantly in the United States during the economic downturn. The market represents about 88 million individuals with nearly $1.3 trillion in income, according to the KPMG study. Based on forecasts, as many as six million people could be classified as "underserved" in the next two years.

"As banks transform their business models to address a new marketplace, they need to examine the potential of the underserved market as new revenue streams are necessary due to increasing compliance costs and various fees coming under pressure as a result of regulatory reform," said Carl Carande, national account leader of KPMG’s Banking and Finance practice. "In the current environment, we see heavy competition among banks chasing customers with high credit scores, with decreasing margins, leaving the underserved market for those willing to invest in it."

Carande also says that banks, before moving forward, need to ensure that appropriate risk-protections are built-in for the bank and customer. "Risk management is a key element of the early opportunity assessment phase, as banks review their current state and design a portfolio of business opportunities for both the near-term and short-term," said Carande. "From there, it is a matter of creating a target operating model before moving to the end game of deploying a multi-generational plan."

According to the KPMG study, banks can pursue a range of key target segments among the underserved, ranging from those who do not use a bank to young adults with little knowledge of financial products.

"Customer segmentation is critical to serving the underserved market and each target segment requires a disciplined and strategic approach," said Timothy Ramsey, managing director in KPMG LLP’s Performance and Technology Advisory group. "Those banks that carve out a niche that makes sense -- and can successfully market and brand themselves accordingly -- will distinguish themselves from the competition."

"When serving this market, banks also have an opportunity to establish customer loyalty by helping these customers more effectively manage their personal finances and develop better saving and investing habits through educational, financial literacy programs," said Ramsey.

What do you think?

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