How to provide personalization at scale

A personal touch has always been the name of the game — and a competitive advantage — for community banks. Yet, it can also feel that personalization has to be sacrificed in the name of growth. A personalized experience aligns perfectly with community banking, but how can banks collect the information and deliver this type of result across thousands of customers and multiple channels? [Continue]

Express your brand, internally and externally

We’ve all heard of “company branding” but what does that really mean for community banks? In a highly competitive environment, it’s about more than “we’re here to serve our communities.” It’s about setting your bank apart: What makes you unique? What are your bank’s values? How do you meet your overall mission? [Continue]

Create a competitive advantage with fintech partnerships

The word “fintech” first emerged in 1971, but it really began to rise in the 2000s and then its prevalence exploded in the 2010s. At first, banks weren’t sure what to make of fintechs. Were they products to purchase? Competitors? And what qualifies as a fintech? Different types of fintechs interact with banks and consumers in different ways. Some of them can create a competitive advantage, providing sleek or robust services to community bank customers that are on par with or exceed those offered by megabank competitors.  [Continue]

Find talent beyond your pre-pandemic scope

Businesses across the country have reported that they are struggling to hire, and the banking industry is certainly not immune. In what has been dubbed “The Great Resignation,” this has become a reflection of the shifting priorities of employees.  In a survey by CreditKarma, 41 percent of U.S. workers are considering leaving their current job within the next six months. The current pressure that banks are feeling to hire may be only the tip of the iceberg between not being able to fill open roles and the potential that existing employees may leave.  [Continue]

What about post-merger tech?

Equally important to the merger of the bank’s assets and people is the merger of technology. And this is an aspect that is often treated as an afterthought. Some banks come with teams and a clear vision for the merged technology. Some have an idea about where to begin but need guidance to ensure everything runs smoothly. And some contact their technology vendors about three weeks before the merger is scheduled to take place to say, “By the way, we’re merging.” (Hint: Don’t take this approach.) [Continue]

Customers want self-serve options — including appointment scheduling

We all know the feeling of trying to schedule a meeting. The back-and-forth via emails to determine availability, the no-shows, the rescheduling. Busy bankers likely felt this pain, and then it was magnified when Covid-19 hit and lobbies closed. Suddenly everything happened via appointment, from account opening to loan inquiries. Walk-ins — temporarily — not welcome.  [Continue]

Father, son navigate succession through kitchen table confabs

Community banks face never-ending challenges, from regulations to technology to recently, a global pandemic. Yet they take it all in stride and are able to offer their customers a sense of consistency, even familiarity. At Park Bank in Holmen, Wis., familiarly is embodied by suspender-wearing bank President Douglas Farmer. So when thoughts turned to transitioning bank leadership, the process required thoughtful planning and consideration so as to not disturb the bank’s deep roots with customers and businesses alike. [Continue]

Rising Stars 2021: Illinois banker serves community and customers alike

Courtney Olson’s banking career began because of a family connection. While a freshman in college, Olson’s aunt, who was vice president of a community bank in Riverwoods, Ill., needed someone to fill in as a teller. Within a week, she was opening CDs and from there moved into a role as a personal banker. Every summer and winter break, she would return to the bank, eventually taking a full-time job following her graduation. [Continue]

Stress tests can guide CRE decision-making

Lenders, property owners, economists, and more have been holding their collective breaths when it comes to potential fallout from Covid-19 on commercial real estate. With so many unknowns, implementing clear internal parameters for CRE stress testing is warranted. You’ll need to consider this in the context of new loans, annual reviews and/or ongoing risk management. [Continue]

Preparing a response to a looming crisis

The banking industry is no stranger to crisis. From the Great Depression’s collapse of the financial system to the ag crisis of the 1980s to the housing crisis of 2008/2009… each era has brought about major — and permanent — changes to banking regulations. [Continue]