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From personalization to social values: what is shaking up investment banking?

April 2021

As millennials mature into management roles in investment banking and other traditional industries, we take a closer look at the characteristics that define their generation. Much has been said about them over the last few years – some good and some bad - but only one thing is certain: coming of age in a world undergoing profound economic disruption is no easy task.

These individuals – born between 1981 and 1996 – have a completely different set of behaviors and expectations in life than their parents. As one of the largest generations in history about to move into its prime spending years, millennials are in a position to redefine the economy and set the pace for how the banking industry will evolve.

If there’s anything we’ve learned from how millennials interact with the ‘retail’ experience is that personalization is key. But that’s not the only thing that defines millennials´ buying behavior. Here are some character traits which must be kept in mind when catering to this key demographic:

  • Technology is essential: Having grown up with the rise of smartphones and the internet, this is the first digital native generation.
  • Communication is key: Not just frequency and speed but the channel too. With social media as one of their preferred platforms, companies must stay cutting edge from a feature, functionality and interface perspective.
  • Values matter: this one is not just limited to millennials – nowadays, the vast majority of investors care for Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) causes and try to tailor their investments to their values. They show greater integration of money and values by investing in sustainable and impactful businesses.
  • Flexibility, flexibility, flexibility: the speed of things has made this generation a lot more impatient which is why it’s even more important to be agile and flexible.

So what is Santander CIB doing to better serve these clients?

Personalization is expected across all sectors. We are committed to fulfilling our clients’ needs, surpassing their expectations and helping them to achieve their goals. That’s why, we continue to invest heavily in developing tailor-made solutions and in providing local expertise, fully integrated coverage and cross-border capabilities.

Santander Cash Nexus is an example of our ongoing commitment to deliver innovative digital banking products to our customers. This global payments solution provides access to local transactional services via a single point of entry. Users worldwide can benefit from a simplified payments process and greater visibility thanks to enhanced reports and more.

Terms like financial services and disruption are often coupled with one of the following technologies: artificial intelligence, analytics, machine learning or robotic process automation. At Santander CIB, we are looking into things like intelligent automation and other innovative technologies such as Blockchain to continue delivering our services at an even higher standard than before.

Indeed, when it comes to investment, regardless of the generation, people increasingly prefer to close the gap between personal and societal well-being. This is largely reflected in the way they live, the things they consume, how they work and their investment choices. Investors do not just want to earn a return from their investment but also want it to reflect their personal values and contribute to the social good.

We believe ESG initiatives and responsible banking standards are key drivers for the progress of society. That’s why, as part of our contribution to the Group’s Responsible Banking commitments, we aim to raise or facilitate the mobilization of 120 billion euros by 2025, and 220 billion euros by 2030 in green finance to help tackle climate change. 

Helping people and businesses prosper has always been our driver. With that in mind, the Group recently signed the ‘Green Recovery Alliance’ manifesto which calls for rebuilding our society around social and green principles once this crisis has passed.

With a predominantly millennial workforce, Human Resources is leveraging technology for strategic initiatives. These aim to help individuals identify their potential, learn continuously, upskill themselves and feel empowered to take control of their careers. Santander CIB will continue to bet on young talent by providing people with opportunities to develop a professional career in the Group’s wholesale banking area.

There is no such thing as a secret recipe but companies that can weave together technology, customization and relationships stand to benefit the most - and the longest - from this determined generation and those to come.