Identifying the unique attributes of a relationship manager in retail banking
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Retail banks employ individuals to manage the relationship between the bank and the customer, known as a Relationship Manager. In building relationships with customers, banks are able to enhance their performance by fostering new relationships and retaining existing relationships. Out of this, banks are able to benefit from additional products are sold to customers, increased profitability can be realized and long-term relationships build on trust and commitment can be achieved. During these interventions with the customer, relationship managers are at the forefront and responsible to realise the strategies of the bank and for that, they require specific attributes. The primary objective of the research proposal is to identify the attributes a successful relationship manager will hold or acquire to maintain a competitive advantage and achieve success in the role. As secondary objectives, the research proposal aims to identify whether the environment allows for effective performance and whether the relationship manager believes that relationship marketing and relationship banking provide loyalty and long-term benefit. These objectives will assist management to identify the key attributes that must be associated with the relationship manager during the appointment and in the pole position to ensure the relationship manager understand the concept of relationship marketing and relationship banking to achieve an overall competitive advantage for both the bank and relationship manager. First, a conceptual framework of relationship marketing, relationship banking and competitive advantage was synthesised from the literature, followed by an understanding of the important attributes required through the application of the MARS model for individual behaviour. From the literature study, a quantitative research survey using a convenience sample was undertaken to determine the relevance of the literature to the current role of a relationship manager. The results provided support for the literature findings and identified that motivation ability, role perception and situational factors are important attributes for a relationship manager as identified in the MARS model in achieving effective relationship marketing and relationship banking for the retail bank. Retail banks should, however, ensure that relationship managers have a clear understanding of the concepts of relationship marketing, relationship banking and competitive advantage and how the attributes the relationship manager hold or will acquire over time will assist in effective role performance.