HOLLYWOOD, FLA. – Despite some bright spots, the bank channel has some surprising areas in need of improvement, according to findings from an annual industry survey.

In their review-and-preview at the Bank Insurance and Securities Association conference here this week, Jim McNeil, the executive director of BISA, and Scott Stathis, the managing director of affiliated group Bank Insurance & Securities Research Associates, gave the bank channel a generally positive nod.

There were plenty of areas, however, where banks and broker-dealers still need to improve, they said as they unveiled the results of their annual survey. And one surprising area where they declined.

First, the decline: In the important area of internal cooperation among work groups at banks—a perennial topic among industry observers—banks have grown worse over the past couple of years. In the current survey, just 8% say they are doing a good job at this, down from 15% last year and 19% the year before.

Both McNeil and Stathis expressed surprise at this result. Stathis said it may be a case of bankers and advisors simply realizing the reality of their situation since they’ve been scrutinizing it more closely.

On the plus side, managed money and recurring revenue is increasing. The “business mix” of revenue drivers is really more of a mix these days, Stathis said. As recently as four years ago, most of the revenue came from annuity sales.

Cultivating talent is one issue where more work is needed. According to Stathis, the bank channel won’t be able to buy top talent very easily so it needs to grow it. And he took the level of “tiers” as a proxy. A bank should have three tiers in order to really groom advisors and provide a career path, Stathis said. In the survey, nearly half of responding banks (49%) had just two tiers. Only 26% had three tiers.

As products are concerned, life insurance is expected to generate more interest in 2014. Last year, it was last in a list of percentage increases. This year, it was second in the list of products expected to grow.

Overall, the study showed the top five goals for the industry in 2014 were: 1) Increasing advisory business; 2) Optimizing client segmentation; 3) Effectively integrating wealth management; 4) Increasing cross-selling; and 5) Increasing the talent level in their organization.

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