By Daniel Hunter

British banks are failing to spot an opportunity to grow a completely new pool of customers by overlooking the full potential that migrant workers represent.

This is the conclusion of a report produced jointly by international management consultancy Kurt Salmon and retail financial marketing experts Efma.

Retail banking is rapidly reaching saturation point so far as attracting new customers is concerned and yet an opportunity to develop a whole new customer segment (second only to the youth market) is being largely ignored.

Banks have traditionally taken a narrow view of the migrant community seeing them as requiring only a basic ‘send money home’ service.

But as more and more migrants settle in the UK and Europe for extended periods — buying property, starting businesses, raising a family etc. their financial needs are becoming more diverse — and there lies the opportunity for banks to tap into this substantial market.

With a population nearing 32 million, migrants make up 10% of the European labour force (that’s about half the population of the UK) and if marketed to effectively, can produce a significant pool of new customers, believe the report’s authors.

The report reveals that if banks want to target this opportunity, they will have to create marketing programmes that take religious and cultural needs into account and tailor their products to match the requirements of each migrant community.

The challenge, says the report is less about products and more about the methods banks can employ to engage with migrant communities.

If banks were to invest in creating a deep understanding of the migrant market and coupled that with affinity programmes aimed at working with the migrant worker sector they could open up a new and significant customer base.

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