Financial services

Commercial banking

Global corporate banking and capital markets have seen substantial change in the last few years. There is new competition from online brokerages and, most recently, there has been a drop in transactions for debt and equity markets, mergers and acquisitions, and initial public offerings. As banks sought to position themselves for economic rebound, a well-documented wave of employee layoffs and other cost reductions were undertaken.

We believe that players in the corporate banking and capital markets industry will need to respond to a range of trends, including:

  • Industry convergence and market structure shifts, which have positioned participants around customer results; the redefinition of the business; overcapacity and consolidation on a global, regional, and local scale; and several de novo value-chain plays. 
  • Increased demand for customer-focused organizations that offer tailored value propositions and high-quality customer service across all channels. Institutions must improve their service to customers, without imposing additional strain on the business model through redundant systems and costs. 
  • Pressure to extract value from the operations/technology processing environments, recognizing technology as a driver of industrialization, which has an impact on innovation and scale and which unbundles manufacturing and distribution. 
  • Evolving organizational models, which are separating manufacturing and distribution and redefining the value chain. 
  • Shifts in capital flows to emerging markets and new asset classes.

For more than half a century, PwC’s strategy consulting team Strategy& has partnered with many of the world's largest capital markets players, helping them address a wide range of strategy, organization, operations, and technology issues. Our global teams of consultants have worked with segment players, including sales and trading, transaction processing, corporate finance, brokerage, wealth management, and information and technology providers, to deliver lasting results. Our work encompasses such issues as implementing customer relationship strategies, achieving organization transformation, reducing organization costs, capturing post-merger integration benefits, and employing strategic sourcing.

Retail banking

Banks have experienced tremendous change over the last decade, including large-scale industry consolidation, the proliferation of alternative delivery channels, and the emergence of new nonbank competitors, such as bank assurance companies and online brokerages. As acquisition-led growth slows, banks must now look for other performance improvement opportunities.

In the near term, Strategy& believes banks will need to address the following industry issues:

  • Adoption of segment-aligned operating models to provide differentiated levels of service to each customer segment, depending on its needs and value to the bank. Service differentiation by segment is critical to halting cross-subsidization of less profitable customers and profit leakage from the most profitable ones. 
  • Transition from product-focused to customer-focused organization to enable customers to be served comprehensively at the relationship level. The current barriers caused by traditional product silos severely limit banks’ ability to own the customer relationship and maximize wallet share. Most banks are striving for a customer-focused strategy, but the challenge will be in implementing the systems that can support the change. 
  • Step-change efficiency improvements to halt the decline in efficiency that many banks have suffered over the last few years. By adopting techniques from other industries, such as lean manufacturing, banks can significantly improve performance. 
  • Redefinition of the banking value chain to identify opportunities and challenges from the emergence of specialist players, especially in product manufacturing and distribution. Specialist players represent a credible threat, which must be addressed by traditional banks.

For more than half a century, Strategy& has partnered with many of the world's largest retail financial-services players, helping them address a wide range of strategy, organization, operations, and technology issues. Our global teams of consultants have worked with banks, savings institutions, and credit card companies on large-scale transformations to deliver tangible results. We help senior executives navigate through such business issues as product-focused to customer-focused organization transformation, customer-segment alignment, and efficiency enhancement.


Insurance companies are facing several challenges, including major changes to demographics and customer needs and the changing nature of distribution as a result of competitive and regulatory pressures and the advance of technology.

As a result, Strategy& believes that insurers will need to address the following issues:

  • Market participation strategies: How best to respond to and capitalize on the new demographics and changing customer needs. 
  • Distribution strategies: What the future of distribution will be and how insurers can position themselves to gain market share and a greater share of value. 
  • Positioning strategies: How insurers should position themselves close to the customer.
  • Operating model: How insurers can enhance their operating model to serve end customers and distributors most effectively.