The Competitive Challenge in Banking
42 Pages Posted: 10 Nov 2005
The increasingly competitive environment poses challenges to bankers. This paper emphasizes relationship banking as a prime source of the banks' comparative advantage. The proliferation of transaction-oriented banking (trading and financial market activities) does however seriously challenge relationship banking. Competition from financial markets may well destabilize (traditional) durable relationships. However, we argue that, contrary to what many believe, banks may optimally respond by increasing relationship-specific investments. These observations echo the insights generated by fundamental research in the area of financial intermediation, and seem consistent with banks' recent strategic choices. We subsequently analyze the implications for the competitive positioning of banks. To this end, we discuss the rationales and empirical evidence regarding the recent consolidation and conglomeration trend in the financial sector, and the implications for both the industrial structure and the optimal internal organization of banks. We also discuss the potential disaggregation of the value chain via joint ventures or outsourcing.
Keywords: Relationship and transaction-oriented banking, competition, conglomeration, strategy
JEL Classification: G20, G21
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