PwC Luxembourg publishes latest report on banking trends and figures

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PwC Luxembourg has just published the fourth edition of “Banking in Luxembourg -  Trends & Figures 2019”.  The 2019 edition of the brochure was released during a client event on Tuesday 17 September at Crystal Park.

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18/09/2019 |
  • Roxane Haas (002)

    Roxane Haas, Partner and Banking Leader

The Banking in Luxembourg, Trends & Figures brochure is one of the two major banking publications that PwC has released over the last ten years. In 2019, however, the PwC Luxembourg team wanted to push the limits to delve into local bankers' mindsets. To this end, they conducted a survey between May and early September and the results are included in the report.

This year the survey was sent to more than 500 banking executives based in Luxembourg. In addition, the PwC Luxembourg banking team conducted face -to- face interviews with more than 15 banking CEOs. In total, 67% of the Luxembourg banking establishments are represented in the results of the survey.

Banking in Luxembourg, Trends & Figures, contains the views of Luxembourg’s bankers on the state of their current and future (until 2021) business, including their talent search and acquisition difficulties at the time. It also elaborates on the transformation that both the banking industry in the Grand Duchy and banks in general are experiencing. Following the remarks on what banks are doing to better understand their customers’ needs, the report then illustrates the priorities for Luxembourg bankers in the short term as well as the trends that will impact their business the most in the coming three years.

The analysis of the results put 8 main aspects into perspective:

  • Banks need to rethink their strategies, reactivate their entrepreneurial spirit and set a real "commercial DNA" in motion.
  • Competition for talent is fierce so banks have to be more open minded when it comes to recruiting the right talents.
  • Upskilling employees is a key solution to help banks keep up with the ongoing technological and business transformation of the banking industry.
  • Banks will need to transform the way they operate if they want to survive. Be it adopting new business models or reviewing their value/chain proposition, transformation is key.
  • The banking industry needs to put the digital tools at the service of their jobs and use them to perform better.
  • The future will be sustainable!
  • Fintech and Payment Services companies should not be seen as competitors, but rather as potential collaborators.
  • Negative interest rates are the new normal.

“At this point, the transformation journey of the banking industry has become “do or die”, says Roxane Haas, Partner and Banking Leader, PwC Luxembourg. “For me, that is what really stands out from the responses in this report. Within the context of rising costs and relatively flat revenues, banks urgently need to rethink their business models and product offerings and even more so, reactivate an entrepreneurial mindset if they want to survive and succeed.”

“The responses to our survey this year clearly show that it’s time for the banks to step out of their comfort zones and reimagine their strategies built upon a foundation of strong commercial DNA and the demands of their clients” says Björn Ebert, Partner, PwC Luxembourg. “A seismic change in client behaviour has already occurred and the banking industry needs to respond swiftly and transformatively.  For the most advanced players, the end goal is to develop a platform that offers clients a customised front-end service, in an Amazon or Netflix like fashion.”

The development of the banking business in Luxembourg

Luxembourg’s banking sector ended 2018 in good shape based on its quality of assets, capitalisation and liquidity. Overall, the banks’ balance sheets experienced a 3.0% growth compared to 2017, but their profitability declined by 3.2%[1]. Against this backdrop, the survey asked Luxembourg-based bankers how they see their business in both 2019 and the mid-term (until 2021). In general, outlook tends to be positive as the bankers expecting a turnover increase counterbalances those who foresee a decline for 2019.

To Luxembourg-based bankers the medium term seems to be more promising than the short term.

In fact, those who anticipated a decline in 2019 are hoping for a slight increase in revenues by 2021. Of the banks convinced of a revenue increase over the coming three years, Private Banking & Wealth Management is the business segment offering the largest growth potential at 42%. This finding does not come as a surprise as it is the core business of Luxembourg’s banking industry and bankers are making a big push to grow this sector. In contrast, the banks expecting a decrease in revenues highlighted Corporate Banking and Treasury/Trading as offering the largest downsizing potential.

Dealing with the skills shortage

To fill the gaps, Luxembourg banks are expanding their geographical focus for their skills search. Interviewed bankers reported that they were looking for people beyond Luxembourg, ranging from Western to Eastern Europe, the Baltics or even worldwide. However, this can prove challenging as some profiles – i.e. compliance officers or specialist lawyers – need to be knowledgeable in Luxembourgish legislation / regulation to be fit for the role.

When they need to source staff members, banks tend to collaborate with universities to find young employees. In parallel, they work with specialised headhunters to fill positions that require more experienced people. The challenge, though, is to avoid inter-generational conflicts within the company as youngsters and ‘grey hair’ employees have to work together. Faced with a shortage of specific skills, but an increased need for them, bankers were asked about the impact this may have on their organisation’s growth prospects. 37% of participants indicated that their quality standards and/or the customer experience is impacted, for instance, by increasing the time to market of certain products. This was highlighted by two thirds of players operating in the retail space. In addition to this, banks reported surging people costs and an impact on the organisation’s capacity to innovate.

Explore more data in Banking in Luxembourg: Trends & Figures 2019.

[1] Presentation of the CSSF Annual Report 2018 – Press Release 19/31.

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