Best Banking Reads of 2014

What a year it’s been for the banking industry! From threats from outside the industry by Apple and Wal-Mart, to questions on whether Colorado and Washington banks should work with legal marijuana businesses, to regulatory shenanigans at the New York Fed, 2014 has been memorable. As the holidays approach and I think back on the year that was, I thought I’d take a few minutes to share some of the banking-related stories I enjoyed in 2014.


  • Banks given the go-ahead on working with marijuana businesses: Marijuana may be legal in some states, but that doesn’t mean banks are ready to work with marijuana businesses.
  • How to Punish a Bank: This is from National Public Radio’s Planet Money, so it’s more of a listen than a read, but delves into the problems of effectively punishing the big banks.
  • Bank of America Adds a Mortgage Settlement to Its Collection: Bloomberg’s Matt Levine (also cited in the NPR segment) provides the data on (at the time) Bank of America’s $68 billion in mortgage settlements, and asks how effective these penalties and fines are when they become business-as-usual.
  • Inside the Emerald City: Jack Milligan, editor of Bank Director, delved into the culture of the NY Fed following concerns that regulators got just a bit too cozy with the big banks they oversee.

NonBank Competition

Continue reading


A Winning Branch Strategy

Over a recent lunch, my Dad told me how he hates his big bank. “Change.”, I said. “Too much trouble,” he replied, but when  he visits his branch “once a month”  the service is terrible.

We can debate branch vs. mobile until the cows come home – I personally see room for both, and statistics show that branch use has not declined despite an increase in mobile – but the fact remains: if your customers are visiting your branches, they expect to be served. You have a chance to make an impression – and you want your bank to make a good one.

Is your staff knowledgeable, and are they providing the best service?
Per The Raddon Report, branches are evolving. With technology, the transactions that once occurred in the branch are largely unnecessary, moving the branch to a service and sales role. Your branch staff needs to have the “people skills” necessary to serve and sell to your customer.

As quoted in my last blog post, I think John Kanas said it best: “the key to the success of any large company is embedded in its human talent”. Hire good people. Train them well. Create a corporate culture where employees feel empowered to make good decisions, and have the ability and motivation to educate your customers about the best products your bank can offer them.

This article offers a list of ways to improve service, but I think my favorite is this one: Sell at the desk, not at the teller line. If you’re going to bring them into the branch, take the time to serve them. Educate the customer about your products and what’s right for them. Are you meeting their needs? If so, they’re a lot more likely to come back.

It’s All About Timing
Are you available when your customers need you? Are you staffing your branch adequately? When are the peak times for your branch?

One innovative way to expand hours without extending personnel: video tellers. Coastal FCU has converted its entire branch network to video tellers, and their CEO states: “The system allows us to serve members faster, handling peaks in branch activity more effectively. It also makes it easier for us to extend our hours of operation and lower the cost of adding new branches.”

Think outside the box, er, branch.
Consider working with local businesses to promote each other and make the customer even happier. When we refinanced our house last year, after dotting our i’s, crossing our t’s, our very friendly and helpful banker handed us free tokens for a restaurant our kids love. Texas Roadhouse was able to promote their business, and we came away feeling like we’d been given a little gift from the bank.

Interested in more branch goodness?
Want to sell better in your branches? Here are some tips.

Worried about branch profitability? Expand your services to maximize profit.