A Glimpse of the Emerging Community Bank
By Joe Trafton, Chief
banking, e-banking, remote deposits, lending
communities. These are the building blocks of
the emerging community bank – an institution
that hardly cashes a check and may not see a
physical customer except for a credit interview
or a financial planning consultation.
What will be the business model for this new
institution? Certainly lending will be part of
the equation as well as anywhere/anytime access
to funds. But blog discussions? Mobile deposits?
These are new areas for banking. How does the
community bank find a new model and transition
Years of banking should have taught us that
consumers are not a homogeneous bunch. The years
ahead will reinforce that point again and again.
Can we really expect the Internet experience
aimed at Boomer customers to be the same as the
experience aimed at Gen Y?
The fact is, bank markets consist of many groups
which adopt new technologies and shed old at
different rates and for different reasons. In
times of dramatic change, such as our current
banking environment, it makes sense to know your
customers like never before.
Fortunately, our traditional reports can be
elevated to true business intelligence. Instead
of listing information, today’s information
delivery can graphically display exactly what
needs attention at your desktop. Live reports of
staffing levels at all your branches, which
delinquent loan customers are making payments
and who among your branch personnel are
referring today’s lead product are all available
The principle of ‘Information Now’ can even feed
live data into PowerPoints and spreadsheets. Can
you imagine? Completely up-to-date information
every time your bank delivers a presentation.
That will be critical for growth and operational
efficiency in the emerging community bank
The ‘Information Now’ principle is well served
by the current Internet technology – Web 2.0.
It’s the backbone of webinars, blogs and
self-updating web pages. It can bring life to
online discussions and help your bank
communicate with its customers as never before.
Suppose a customer wants to review his credit
options for financing his three childrens’
college educations? Sure you can bring him into
the office. But you could also conduct the
meeting remotely – showing charts that
illustrate the customer’s situation and options
online while you’re talking.
Can you imagine how many more customer meetings
you might conduct using this technology? Can you
imagine how many more product sales? These are
some of the tools that can cement profitable
relationships in the years to come.
They’re also good for cultivating Gen Y
customers who are comfortable communicating via
iChat. What a great way for your bank to connect
with an important constituency and begin to make
If you think Mobile Banking is just a Gen Y
phenomenon or a shrunken version of Internet
Banking, think again. Everyone has a cell phone
– from middle schoolers to seniors citizens.
Everyone has banking needs that are unique to
For example: you’re in Omaha on business, and
you need to see if a check cleared so you can
pay a bill. Or you need to verify a key piece of
loan data while you’re on the road. These are
just the tip of the Mobile Banking iceberg.
With success in Asia, Mobile Banking will gain
ground quickly here. Remember that more of your
customers have intelligent cell phones than
Internet-connected computers and it’s only a
matter of time before those customers become
convinced that Mobile Banking is more convenient
than computer-based banking.
ONLY THE BEGINNING
If your blood is beginning to race and your head
is beginning to spin, that’s good, for there are
many more forces at work in reworking the
community bank. Green will be a major factor as
it moves away from a purely ‘use less’ strategy
to a major consideration in collateral
Community Banking is once again evolving. Decide
which way you need to go, then build your new
business model so you can prepare for the