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Podcasts go back to front lines

CenterState Bank thinks time is ripe to reach out via podcasts again

Florida bank has decided to try podcasts again on its correspondent banking clients first. This may result in using this technology to reach out to business customers and consumers. Florida bank has decided to try podcasts again on its correspondent banking clients first. This may result in using this technology to reach out to business customers and consumers.

Chris Nichols is one of those bankers who never met a new idea he wasn’t willing to run up the flagpole once or twice.

As chief strategy officer at Florida’s CenterState Bank, Chris tries many things. In past guest blogs on he has discussed the bank’s experiments with Pokémon Go and with Oculus Rift virtual reality goggles, for instance.

 When we saw Nichols’ latest new effort in his LinkedIn blog, we thought readers would be interested in reading it. While he discusses podcasting for his bank’s correspondent customers, there is much here for banks hoping to reach their customers in a relatively new way. You can learn more about Nichols, a member of the Banking Exchange Editorial Advisory Board, at the end of this guest post. —Steve Cocheo, BE digital content manager

At the end of this guest post you will find a link to Season 1, Episode 2 of our bank’s new podcast. You should go to iTunes and subscribe, as podcasting is our latest experiment.

Even though this is #2, it’s really our intro episode that explains why we podcast and more importantly answers a question that we get asked all the time—why we share our data, policies, products, and thoughts with other banks.

In the podcast we answer the question, why we did an intro episode as our second show, instead of our first. We also set up our objectives for the first season. We will bring you some of our nation’s top bankers and industry experts telling you of their experience directly. We think it is important to hear their message in their own words.

Why podcasting and our approach

Podcasting allows listeners to “time shift” information. We have designed our podcast to fit into a 15-30-minute time frame that is by no coincidence the time frame of the typical commute in the U.S. It is also the time frame of a typical treadmill/bike workout or walk. Our hope is that you will subscribe, and you can better leverage your time by taking your mind off the commute or workout.

In the past, bankers were notoriously loathe to watch videos or listen to podcasts. We had tried both a number of years ago and a combination of things limited adoption: reason for listening, IT issues, and the reluctance to try new things.

Now, with both video and podcasting coming into the mainstream, we are giving it another try. If we can convince bankers to listen over the course of one season, we think it will be easy to get possibly our retail and commercial customers trying it as well.

While this Episode 2 isn’t indicative of our podcast format, the rest of the season will be. Per our usual methodology, we have listened to hundreds of the most popular podcasts and have distilled the attributes of each to reverse-engineer success.

National Public Radio, for instance, has a series of top performing podcasts that all follow the same format. (Of course, NPR has a larger budget and a five or more person staff for each episode so don’t expect us to pull off the quality that they have. But we do believe we have deciphered how to come close with the fraction of the time and resources.)

In the coming weeks, you will see us at conferences and around the country talking to bankers on one topic that they excel in.

Why we share

One question that we get asked a lot is why we share our data, or policies, our analytics, and our thoughts.

We find much of our work on our blog, but also on various social media channels such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Youtube, Google+, and Snapchat—not to mention our various speaking engagements throughout our industry.

Our goal is to bring banks together to share ideas and to support the various state associations, banking schools, regulators, and commercial organizations that do. We don’t care how banks share, but the transference of information is crucial to our survival. This thesis we feel is set in our biology and cannot be escaped.

Biology of banking

In the podcast we lay out the definition of the collective power of an organism. We show how the historical biological process for an organism is to grow and reach a certain physical limit. This is true for a single cell, as it is for a human. Once the physical limit is reached, the organism turns to increasing its ability to communicate for the purpose of becoming more intelligent and more adaptable.

This process is why cells come together to form bio-film; bio-film supports the growth of amoebas; how tissue gets formed; and how tissue comes together to form organs.

Each component is characterized by having subsets of itself specialize in different functions and then adding a layer of communication on top. The interesting part is that this communication takes place at the local level without the coordinated control of, say, a brain, but then each specialized aspect of the organism is also influenced by a central authority.

To recap, the pattern in development is clear—parallel growth of physical being until a limit is hit and then intelligence increases by a jump in communication. Communication first happens within a single system and then across systems. This is a repetitive pattern that organisms follow. Once an organism reaches its maximum potential, the next move is to form a community. Either by design or by evolution, no matter what you believe, the pattern is irreducible.

Impact on banking

In similar fashion, we believe banks hit their physical limit long ago regarding structure. Now, it is about better and more efficiently communicating with our customers and our networks in order to grow. Just as radio, TV, and the internet has allowed this transfer of information, the next major step forward for banks will be in artificial intelligence, robotics, and automated systems composed of both. Man and machine will continue to come together to form our next material advancement.

If you buy into our logic, then it stands to reason that to thrive, banking also has to undergo the same process of transformation. Communication needs to be enhanced, and more of our information needs to be transferred between banks to move our industry collectively to greater success. This is the "network effect" in action.

Those bankers who are well connected and who are efficient at gathering information from their customers, other banks, or the industry will be more efficient and implementing successful ideas. These banks will grow faster leaving their competition behind to either wither or get consolidated.

This is our mission—to provide the means to synthesize better and transfer information about banking between banks. This means cooperation, not competition.

This is why, to the extent the law allows (think the SEC), we try to share information. We often get asked why we would do this, and this post is the formal response to that question.

Join us

Hopefully, you will come along for the ride. Sharing this blog with your staff is a good start (they can subscribe directly here). You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes by searching “Bank to Bank” so you can get it automatically. Give us a few episodes to hit our stride and then let us know what you think. We would love to learn about what you do, hear your thoughts and take any suggestions or feedback you have.

Even better, we travel around to all 50 states every year and would love to meet you in person.

Stay connected with us, share, experiment, analyze, and repeat what works is our formula for success. We don’t think that approach can fail.

Stay tuned for upcoming podcast episodes as in the next episode we will hear from a bank that is one of the best in the industry at managing the customer experience. We will hear, in their own words, why they do it, and how they have success. Hopefully, you will listen.

Thanks for reading (and listening).

Listen to Chris Nichol's podcast

Chris Nichols

Chris Nichols is chief strategy officer at CenterState Bank Central Florida, N.A., Winter Haven, Fla. He frequently contributes to "UNconventional Wisdom" and other parts of Nichols is a member of the Banking Exchange Editorial Advisory Board.

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