zeb study: Banks are at the beginning when it comes to agility

The financial services industry has realized that agility is a major key when it comes to meeting the challenges of digital transformation. In a recent zeb study, 66 percent of the surveyed participants currently agree with the statement that the development towards an adaptable and customer-centric organization is absolutely necessary and highly relevant. However, a glance at the institutions’ agenda shows that the topic has hardly been implemented in the industry so far: only 21 percent of the study participants believe that there is a uniform understanding of agility within their businesses, and less than 6 percent of the respondents would confirm an advanced or very advanced maturity level for their companies.

“When it comes to agility, financial services providers are at the very beginning of a far-reaching transformation”, said Dr. Jens Wiegel, co-author of the zeb study. “Although banks have recognized the signs of the times, they still have large deficits. Projects clearly demonstrate how this transformation can succeed—either gently and step by step or holistically and as quickly as possible.”

As part of the study, zeb, the strategy and management consultancy specializing in the European financial services industry, interviewed more than 200 employees of large and small financial services providers. Deficits became apparent, especially from an internal perspective. Accordingly, employees and executives almost consistently reveal major shortcomings in their own organizations when it comes to building up or establishing agile structures. Employees without management responsibility were more skeptical about the status of agility than executives. The study authors conclude that not all employees feel equally swept along by the change towards agile forms of organization.

Mathias Gans, co-author of the zeb study, added: “The world around us is changing dramatically, quickly and radically. Agility is not just an option, but a vital skill. Every organization must find its own path of transformation. The more radical the path, the more important the full commitment of the management.”

Further results of the study show that 11 percent of the participants surveyed perceive their own bank as an organization in which rigid structures prevail. As many as 62 percent stated that initial measures were being tested in their working environment and that an awareness of the necessity of agile transformation was being developed. 22 percent of the respondents said that their company had taken the first concrete steps towards agile organizations, and ultimately only 5 percent were convinced that many elements of agile organizations were already being implemented and the need for change recognized. Only 1 percent of those surveyed stated that they were largely working with agile methods in an already adapted organization.

Martin Fürst, co-author of the zeb study, concluded: “Agile management methods do not have much effect within hierarchical structures. To bring about sustainable change, agility must be addressed comprehensively. It is not enough to simply adapt individual components such as the organizational structure. Rather, it is also necessary to replace well-established roles and leadership practices and, last but not least, to adapt the IT architecture and working environment. The change towards agile organizations will be one of the most complex challenges for the management of financial services providers in the coming years.”

The latest agility study by zeb can be downloaded here.

About zeb

As a leading strategy and management consultancy, zeb has been offering transformation expertise along the entire value chain in the financial services sector in Europe since 1992. In Germany, we operate offices in Frankfurt, Berlin, Hamburg, Munich and Münster (HQ). Our international locations are in Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Kiev, London, Luxembourg, Milan, Moscow, New York City, Oslo, Stockholm, Vienna, Warsaw and Zurich. Our clients include European large-cap and private banks, regional banks, insurers as well as all kinds of financial intermediaries. Several times already, our company has been classed and acknowledged as “best consultancy” for the financial sector in industry rankings.

zeb Contact

Franz-Josef Reuter
Head of Public & International Affairs
Phone +49 251 97128 347
E-Mail franz-josef.reuter@zeb.de


„We are partners for the media in the field of financial services.“