The United States is fortunate to have one of the most diverse banking systems in the world. From small community banks to large multinational corporations and everything in between, this diversity in our financial system enables capital generation and use to be built around the unique needs of different market segments and is the catalyst for our strong and resilient economy.
With M&A trends consolidating banks in the country, new fintech companies changing consumer behavior, and new potential guidelines and regulatory frameworks, a number of factors play a role shaping the next chapter in financial services. As we look ahead, it is critical that we understand what really strengthens our economy as we shape the next chapter in financial services.
Mergers & Acquisitions
If there has been a trend in financial services over the past year, it has been consolidation. So far, companies have announced deals worth more than $ 1.8 trillion in the US in 2021 – the highest amount since at least 1995. That figure also includes mergers and acquisitions in the banking sector alone valued at more than $ 48 billion. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has announced that it will not be able to complete all merger reviews within the standard 30-day window as a signal of the sheer volume of business going on today.
After the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, there were numerous motivations for banks’ acquisition activities – from those looking for size in order to better compete against larger competitors, to others gaining new technological capabilities or operating costs through mergers reduce. As long as banks continue to meet their customers’ financial needs and remain a motor of the American economy, consolidation is likely to remain a key strategy for financial institutions to enable digital transformation. Indeed, the consolidation is likely to produce a small but strong layer of regional banks like ours that can operate in a competitive environment with increasing pricing pressure and differentiated customer experiences.
The proliferation of financial technology startups is closely related to the increase in acquisitions. The overnight transition to the digital catalyzed by the COVID-19 pandemic has fueled a wave of technical solutions to enable our mostly online lives. There is now an incredible range of digital financial services that are literally available to consumers.
Although a majority of fintech companies are currently operating outside of the regulated space, I believe there are many opportunities for banks and fintechs to come together and offer their customers optimized products and seamless experiences within the regulatory framework of our financial system.
Innovations in financial services only fuel our ability to build a more resilient and diverse banking system – and I believe we will continue to see new technology open all possible doors. These new technologies, which can significantly increase efficiency, are needed now more than ever to stay competitive, with collaboration being a priority.