Financial institutions such as insurance companies and banks are in danger of failing in the world of interactive television because they are not embracing the need to entertain viewing audiences.

According to KPMG Consulting, treating the impending digital television revolution as merely another distribution channel will be a recipe for failure.

"No one, no matter how interested in their personal finances, is likely to consider relaxing in the evening in front of their current account or home insurance details," KPMG partner Phil Middleton told a recent seminar. "The power of television as a medium for financial institutions rests precisely with the entertainment value that pulls in consumers. But, in order to capitalise on this financial institutions must become entertainers."

He said that the key skills for staff in the future would not be financial acumen and customer care – which are now taken for granted. Instead, they would need entertainment, information and desire creation skills.

KPMG believes the way forward is for banks, insurance companies and other financial service providers to form alliances with commercial television interests to link products with the lifestyle values embodied in programmes.

"Take a programme on motoring. Viewers could explore links with featured car manufacturers perhaps for an interactive closer look at a particular model and arrange finance for a motor car purchase or car insurance there and then with the programme's chosen finance or insurance provider."

"Alternatively, a light entertainment programme, such as Blind Date, could enable banks to overcome the problem that financial products are not seen as a 'fun' or indulgent purchase, by linking their products to a popular and familiar format."