Articles - Written by - 2 Comments

How Banks Use Profitability Analysis

Banks have come a long way towards Customer Relationship Management in the past five years. In the 1980’s most banks had not yet created a consolidated Marketing Customer Information File (MCIF). Their credit card accounts were kept on one computer, checking accounts on another, and home mortgages on a third. By 1990, most banks had figured out how to group all customer accounts together on an MCIF, even if they were maintained here

The next step was determining the profitability of each customer. This is not easy.  Modern profitability software adds up the revenues from each account, and subtracts the bank’s costs on a monthly basis. The costs include the cost of the funds, provision for losses, overhead, deposit insurance, and customer’s usage of bank services. Profitability software is still in its infancy. It offers a real challenge for software providers to deliver an outstanding product. It will be particularly useful for advanced data applications.

Once the software has determined the profitability of each account each month, each customer’s total profitability has to be computed by adding together the profits or losses from each of his accounts. When banks first do this calculation, it often comes as quite a shock. Some, like the Fleet Bank, have found that as many as half of their total customers are unprofitable. Many will never be profitable. Their marketing staffs are busy working to acquire and retain people who destroy value for the bank!

With knowledge of profitability, banks begin to classify their customers into profitability segments so that they can understand and modify customer and employee behavior. Here is the way one bank classified its customers in a recent month:

The top two segments, representing 16% of the bank’s customers, were responsible for 105% of the bank’s total profit. The bottom 28% represented a loss of 22% of the profit. This picture is typical of many banks.

What are banks doing about this situation? In the first place, few banks have reached the this stage yet,  and most of those have not developed any conscious strategies to deal with the problem. Those that have developed a plan, however, have come up with some innovative ideas.

Most are working very hard to retain the customers in the top two groups.  These are designated as Gold customers. Banks try to extend special services to them. Gold customers call in on special toll free lines. Branch managers are furnished with the names of their top customers, and are instructed to meet and greet them when they visit a branch. They are assigned personal bankers, who call and introduce themselves.

The customer access screens used by bank personnel include a profitability code, so employees can know whether they are dealing with a 5, 4, 3, 2, or 1.  When the loans for the 1s come up for renewal, they are renewed at a higher rate, to try to nudge them into profitability, or possibly to get them to take their business elsewhere.  The software does something else which is quite sophisticated. The software determines which bank products should be suggested to the customer during customer contacts on the phone or in person. These products are selected by formulas that determine what bank products the customer currently uses, and what his current balances would indicate that he might be eligible for and want to use next.  The software also suggests the appropriate rates for loans or CDs based both on the current market, and the customer’s profitability level. The bank software is often tied to the customer service call director, which routes Gold customer calls to special Gold Service teams, and provides only minimal service for unprofitable customers.

Customers who visit branch offices cost the bank considerable money. It is much more economical for customers to use an ATM, mail, or PC banking.  For this reason, some banks have tried to discourage branch visits by charging a fee. Profitability analysis shows that such policies may be a serious mistake. As the above chart indicates, branches are visited most by two groups: the most profitable and the least profitable. Policies that turn away unprofitable customers may also turn off Gold customers.

Beyond Profitability

Profitability only measures the past. Lifetime value projects this into the future, and looks at what each customer can do for the bank in the coming years. Fleet Bank, for example, determines customer profitability and lifetime value each month, and also computes potential lifetime value if the customer can be talked into purchasing the most likely next products. In this way, Fleet manages its customer relationships in a highly professional manner. We will be covering lifetime value in a future article.

What are marketer’s roles in this revolution in banking customer management? Database markering analysts should:

  • Have profitability computation software available
  • Assist banks in creating marketing customer profitability customer segments
  • Help to create “Next best product” software
  • Have the results of these program appear on customer contact screens throughout the bank
  • Assist banks in moving their customers towards profitability, using these new techniques.

Arthur Middleton Hughes, vice president of The Database Marketing Institute, has presented 28 seminars on database and email marketing.  Arthur has also authored several books includingStrategic Database Marketing 4th Edition (McGraw-Hill 2012). He and Andrew Kordek, chief strategist and co-founder of Trendline Interactive, are hosting a two-day Email Strategy Study Group in Fort Lauderdale  March 26-27, 2013, featuring group competition for email marketers responsible for subscriber acquisition, lifetime value, ratings and reviews, boosting their email budget, and doubling their ROI.  To learn how to attend the Study Group, click here

Related Articles:

Post Footer automatically generated by Add Post Footer Plugin for wordpress.

VN:F [1.8.6_1065]
Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)

About Arthur

Arthur Middleton Hughes has published over 200 articles on Database and E-mail Marketing. Click Here to read them.

Featured Books



Strategic Database Marketing 4th Edition: from Arthur Hughes.

To take the quizes from this book click here.



Successful E-mail Marketing Strategies: from Hunting to Farming (RACOM 2009) by Arthur Middleton Hughes and Arthur Sweetser.

This new book takes readers through a step by step approach to implementing database marketing essentials to improve e-mails marketing returns intelligently. This is the book that the trade press has been raving about.

The two Arthurs make it easy to see the difference between primitive “Hunting” and customer-centric “Farming”. This is a game-changing attitudinal shift. If you want your e-mail marketing to succeed, learn how to farm.—Stephanie Miller, VP Return Path Click here to download free the exhibits from this new book.

Strategic Database Marketing: from Arthur Hughes.





Customer Churn Reduction and Retention for Telecoms: Models for All Marketers: from Arthur Middleton Hughes.

Arthur Middleton Hughes has just published a new book of Marketing Strategy for Telecoms including Landline and Wireless Telcos, Cable TV, Satellite TV, BPL, IPTV, VoIP and WiMAX.

Other Recommended Reading...

More In Articles

More In Telecom Articles

More In Speeches