There’s much to be said for perseverance. The country’s second-largest financial institution by total assets has steadily welded and bolted — or perhaps more accurately — has digitally integrated its disparate operating units, platforms and systems.
Because this gargantuan transformation has been a decade-long endeavor, during which the banking world has been mesmerized by the rise of fintechs and the threat of a big tech incursion, Bank of America’s growing digital capability has been hiding in plain sight.
Flush with the success of many of its digital-banking initiatives — including its artificial intelligence-powered virtual assistant Erica — the Charlotte-based institution is not averse to strutting its stuff. In a media and analyst presentation in late August 2020 two of the bank’s senior retail banking and technology officers even went as far as to enumerate the number of patents the bank had received (184 in the first half of the year), as a counterpoint to a lingering belief that the big bank isn’t really that innovative.
A more startling figure BofA released is that through eight months of 2020, the bank had already made more than 800 enhancements to its mobile banking app. One of these enhancements was the focal point of the presentation and exemplifies the kind of internal coordination going on at BofA.
Where previously BofA clients that have a relationship with Merrill (formerly Merrill Lynch, which BofA acquired in 2008), Bank of America Private Bank, and various other investment-related accounts had to use separate apps to view their different relationships with the bank, now they can view all of their financial information in one app. Consumers can access and execute trades directly in the Bank of America app, for example. In addition, Erica now supports investment-related inquiries regarding trading, portfolio performance, quotes and holdings.
It should be noted that Bank of America hasn’t achieved some digital transformation nirvana quite yet. The bank, along with other of its large-bank peers, stumbled at the outset dealing with the hastily contrived Paycheck Protection Program. And its J.D. Power ranking for retail banking satisfaction is below the average of the large-bank category in every region, although it has done very well in the research firm’s Retail Banking Advice ranking. Still, there’s a lot going on at BofA that other financial institutions should know about.
Almost All Interactions Are Digital or Automated
Beyond the new app integration, David Tyrie and Aditya Bhasin gave numerous details and insights regarding the bank’s retail banking performance and initiatives, with a particular focus on digital options. Tyrie is head of Digital, Financial Center Strategy and Advanced Client Solutions, while…