Bankers and others taking part in our “How community banks can survive” article shared ideas for doing so.
We’d like to hear your ideas too. After you’ve read these, share them in the comment section below or email them to [email protected]
• Don’t be afraid to be “boring.” Ask how any new program or product will improve shareholder returns and customer service, or strengthen your brand. If you can’t get a definite answer, is the proposal worth the expense?
• Celebrate “community”—it’s still a strength. Main Street still appreciates bankers who serve their communities. But also consider new ways to do that. Read the story of Jill Castilla's Citizens Bank of Edmond, Okla.
• “Friction” breeds nonbank apps—find it and kill it. Look, with a customer’s eye, at how you deliver products and services for friction—things that make it difficult for customers to obtain what they want—to reduce the opportunities for tech-based competitors.
• Second-guess the urge to merge. Too many mergers happen for unclear reasons. Know why you want to do an acquisition. If it’s for expertise versus deposits, for example, then employee retention, compensation, and cultural fit are much bigger concerns.
• Consider “buying the banker,” instead of buying the bank. Some community banks prefer this approach. Read about the strategies of ServisFirst Bank
• Hire with the long-term game in mind. Hiring for experience makes sense, but be sure the experience is relevant—e.g. a check processing expert won’t likely lead you through the challenge of mobile pay.
Place millennials (or comparable folks) in a position to help contribute to your tech savvy or suggest new ideas, new ways of doing things.
• Look beyond bank competition and beyond banking for ideas and challenges. Supplement bank peer groups with participation in other business’ groups as well as conferences.
• Rethink your branches (already). It’s been on the “do list” for years. That could include fewer of them; sit-down teller stations; instituting a “concierge” to handle most typical needs; supplement in-person staff with video tellers.
• Consider branch alternatives. Try LPOs in place of a branch, or rely more on officers calling on customers, using an Uber-like banker-on-call app. Read "Why not a 'banker on call' app?"
• Be willing to work in two worlds. Banking is undergoing a long-term transition. Having a foot in the present and one in the future isn’t an inconvenience—it’s a fact of life.
• Maintain your perspective and be realistic. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by information. Much of what hits bankers is noise, and shouldn’t be the basis of strategic decisions.
We’d like to hear your ideas too. Now that you’ve read these, share them in the comment section below or email them to [email protected]