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Wipfli’s 2024 banking outlook reveals new M&A, cybersecurity and AI trends

Tuesday, January 2, 2024

Wipfli’s annual research report into the state of banking reveals a slowdown in aggressive growth, a reluctance to embrace AI and a surprising number of cybersecurity instances.

Nearly 400 banks across the United States participated in Wipfli’s “State of banking” research report. Among the key findings:

  • 56% of banks expect growth of only 1%-5%
  • 78% of banks plan to buy, down from 90%
  • 43% cite both cybersecurity and employee issues as a top concern
  • 61% cite digital customer engagement as a top strategy
  • 65% of banks report at least one identified instance of unauthorized access to data or networks
  • 51% say risk is a top barrier to using AI
  • 56% of banks have no strategy to serve unbanked or underbanked populations

“The top message for banks to take away from this report is that the time for sitting in the wings and watching others lead the innovation charge is over,” said Anna Kooi, the national financial services leader for Wipfli. “Delivering better digital experiences to customers, solving the talent pipeline drought, transforming digitally, adopting AI, keeping out cybercriminals … all of these are critical for banks hoping to survive and prosper in 2024.”

Of the institutions that were surveyed, 22% had assets under $500 million dollars; 13% had between $500 million and $1 billion; 20%, $1 billion and $3 billion; 19% $3 billion to $5 billion; 16%, $5 billion to $10 billion; and 10% more than $10 billion.

“What surprised us the most were the banks with $3 billion to $5 billion in assets,” Kooi said. “They’re showing higher adoption numbers of technology and AI, more plans to buy other banks and more strategies to serve unbanked and underbanked people.”

“The $3 billion to $5 billion banks are the rocks stars. It may be that they’re sandwiched between the big and small banks so they don’t have deep pockets or long-term customer loyalty, but whatever the reason, they are reporting more strategic and aggressive strategies than other banks,” Kooi added.

“It was also heartening to see the number of those participating in the survey increase,” Kooi said. “In a time where survey fatigue is prevalent, the fact that more executives participated is a reflection of their dedication to exploring and collaborating as a community on navigating an uncertain future.”

Download the report now to learn more about what the banking industry is expecting in 2024. 

Media contact: Sara Snyder