Emily McCormick:

How will disruptive competitors like Google, PayPal and Simple impact the banking industry? Bank Director Editor Jack Milligan explores this question.

Originally posted on The Bank Spot:

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I am writing a story for the fourth quarter issue of Bank Director magazine on the emergence of nonbank disruptors as potentially serious competitors for traditional banks in the personal financial services and payments space. I don’t want to tip my hand before the piece is published in late October, but I would like to share some of my preliminary thoughts. I love writing feature stories like this because they allow you to really dig into a subject. There are fewer magazines out there that still practice long form journalism, but Bank Director is one of them.

There has certainly been a lot of activity in the PFS and payments space of late. The disruptors have been very busy. (You should definitely read a string of insightful blogs on the nonbank competitive threat written by my colleague, Bank Director President Al Dominick, at AboutThatRato.) Here are some of the…

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Financial Research: Grappling with Technology

Bank leaders want to know more about how to leverage technology to make their institutions more profitable, but don’t know where to start, reveals the 2014 Growth Strategy Survey. Bank Director and CDW surveyed 145 independent directors and executives in June and July to uncover technology’s role in growth strategy.

Growth-Survey-Group-1Bank leaders know that technology can make their banks more efficient, and know that customer demands are only growing. But less than one-third talk about technology at every board meeting, and one-quarter of banks lack the IT staff to grow the bank.

Growth-Survey-Group-4When asked about the top technology concerns for their banks, keeping up with the evolution of mobile banking is a concern for more than half. Data analytics is also top of mind, and the survey finds that big banks are better users of data. Forty percent of respondents overall use business intelligence tools and analytics within their organization, but more than three-quarters of banks over $5 billion in assets currently use data to support growth goals.

Growth-Survey-Group-2One-third are concerned that the bank’s core processor impedes the bank’s ability to innovate. Community banks in particular depend on vendors for their technological expertise, yet half say that their core processor is slow to respond to innovations.

Growth-Survey-Group-3It’s important to note that many of these concerns about innovation and the use of data tie into growing concerns about competition from outside the industry. Eighty-four percent of respondents say that today’s highly competitive environment is their greatest challenge when it comes to growing the bank, and 83 percent worry about nonbank competitors. Banks above $5 billion in assets reveal a heightened concern about PayPal and Amazon.

Full survey results are available online at BankDirector.com.

The Growth of the…Branch?

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The American Bankers Association just released survey results that say that the number of Americans that prefer to bank within a branch actually grew within the last year. Americans opting for internet banking fell by 8 percentage points, while the number who prefer to meet their banking needs through ATM or mobile each grew slightly.  The ABA theorizes that recent technological advancements made within bank branches have made the channel more efficient and therefore, more attractive to customers.

Reflecting the view across the pond, Accenture released a study last month, focusing on the UK financial services industry, with similar findings–online banking remains steady, while the use of branch and mobile channels grow.

There are certainly branch success stories for community banks in the U.S., and most of these involve a transition to self-service, whether through the use of image-enabled ATMs or video tellers. Kennebec Savings Bank uses image-enabled ATMs to handle one-third of the bank’s deposits, and the machines allow the bank to expand in its market through self-service branches more cheaply  than through a traditional branch. And Conestoga Bank opens two-to-three times more accounts each quarter through video tellers. (For more on how these banks are using technology in the branch, please read my contribution to Bank Director magazine’s innovation section, “Will Video Kill the Teller Line?“.)

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Emily McCormick:

Love this behind-the-scenes look at the latest issue of Bank Director magazine.

Originally posted on The Bank Spot:

In the world of magazine journalism, there are few things more important than the cover story. I believe this is still true in magazine publishing today, although the importance of the cover story might eventually join the typewriter and 35mm camera as relics of the past as digital magazines become more prevalent.  Most webzines, whose designs are often indistinguishable from any other website, would never devote all that precious space on their home pages to one story.

When I was a newspaper reporter, my goal was to get on the front page as often as I could. Above the fold was good. The upper right hand corner, as the lead story, was better. A story that ran across the entire top of the front page under a banner headline was like hitting the lottery.

I have spent most of my journalism career in magazines, either with a monthly or now…

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Emily McCormick:

Al Dominick ends his excellent five-part series on non-bank competition.

Originally posted on About That Ratio:

This is the fifth and final piece in my series on emerging threats to banks from non-financial companies — one that shines a light on the pooling of money from many different people to make an idea happen. Click on any of these titles to read my previous posts: For Banks, the Sky IS FallingPayPal is Eating Your Bank’s LunchThe Bank of Facebook and Is WalMart the Next Big Bank.

Next week kicks off Shark Week on the Discovery channel… maybe you’ve been inspired by the endless commercials hyping this programming during Deadliest Catch?  Perhaps so inspired that you’ve come up with a brilliant new idea that just needs some money to get it off the ground!  As a creative type (you watch Shark Week after all), you can’t be bothered with your community bank’s draconian business loan process.  No, you want to start right away and are…

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Are You Part of the Conversation?

origamibirds_MFYour financial institution may be the heart of its community, but once the conversation goes online, does your bank follow?

The Financial Brand published a piece earlier this week on the 5 LinkedIn Myths Bankers Need to Shake, detailing research from consulting firm St. Meyer & Hubbard and marketing technology firm kadince.com that found that more than half of banks forbid their bankers to craft relationships through LinkedIn.

This is just the latest study that highlights the problematic relationship between banks and social media. A year ago, Bank Director, in its 2013 Bank Board & Executive Survey, found that less than half of banks engage with customers through Facebook or Twitter.

Yes, there are risks in social media engagement, so your bank does need a plan. Your bank might not be on social media, but your customers are. Social media monitoring service mention says that the average company is mentioned 39 times a day and almost 300 times a week. Of these, few talk directly to the company — meaning that they won’t be talking to your bank, but they will be talking ABOUT your bank.

And in a today’s competitive environment, you might want to pay attention to the social media conversations that consumers are having about other banks in your market. According to Forbes, Verizon and AT&T are monitoring complaints about competitors like T-Mobile so they can reach out to these unhappy customers and offer their own services. Media Bistro examines this further, saying:

If you’re not using Twitter to listen to customers, you’re missing out on one of its most significant benefits. Since Twitter is an open network, you have the opportunity to use tools and search to discover what anyone is saying about any topic, in real time.

Verizon is focusing its efforts on those users that are seen as “influencers” – Twitter users that have a lot of followers. Who are the influencers in your community, and where are they? If they’re not on Twitter, they’re likely on LinkedIn, a social network built entirely around business leaders. Don’t you want to be where your customers are? Because it’s likely that your competitors will be.

LOFTy Expectations

I’m a big fan of LOFT, the lower-cost little sister to the slightly more upscale Ann Taylor, but their most recent sale probably lost me as an online customer.

LOFT ran a big sale Sunday that offered a 70 percent discount off sale items. Who doesn’t love a good deal? The sale expired at midnight, so I started to browse late Sunday evening on my iPhone. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get past browsing–the website constantly crashed. This isn’t the first time that LOFT’s website couldn’t handle extra traffic during a big sale.

LOFT Response LOFT’s response to my concerns voiced on social media Sunday night came on Monday morning–hours after the end of the sale–and instead of addressing the issue through that medium, they directed me to call an associate. Around the same time, I received a tone-deaf email advertising a 60% off flash sale email.

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I should note that the social media team at LOFT seems to be responsive to customers on its Facebook page. It’s true that I was disappointed that, instead of addressing the problem through social media, LOFT directed me to contact them by phone–an extra step that I didn’t want to take–but their team is just doing their job.

The real problem lies in the fact that marketing, product delivery and customer service aren’t strategically aligned.

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