Complete Story


Better than Before: How to Make Digital Banking More Personal & Meaningful than Banking in the Branch…By Leveraging Your People in the Branch

By Lee Wetherington, director of strategic insight, Jack Henry & Associates, Inc.

I’m tired.

We just moved, and I grossly underestimated the work involved.

I had prepared for the pain of packing, loading, unloading, and unpacking everything we own, but I hadn’t accounted for the real work of establishing new relationships for everything we need: utilities, Internet, garbage pickup, grocery store, dry cleaner, dentist, dermatologist, pharmacist, eye doctor, doctor doctor (sic), barber, hair stylist, manicurist, pedicurist—don’t judge, hicks require a lot of pruning to be presentable.

But what about a new financial institution? Do we really need one?

(Notice I use the generic “financial institution” above so that I don’t offend my bank and credit union friends. Also notice that by pointing this out I offend both my bank and credit union friends. Check your charter politics for a minute, you whiners, and hear me out.)

My community financial institution (CFI) back home has no branches here, but it does have a mobile app. So do I really need a new local financial institution with branches full of people I don’t know?

And which is more vital: local brick and mortar or remote hometown people who I trust and with whom I share decades of history?

The thought of opening a new account and redirecting all of my bill payments, subscriptions, and mobile wallets made me cringe, so I decided to follow “the law of least effort” and stay put, that is, until I needed to wire the proceeds from the sale of our old house to the holder of the mortgage on our new house.

I called my friends at my hometown CFI and asked about the best way to transfer the “guaranteed funds” required by my mortgage holder. I couldn’t believe what I was told:

“Well, we could provide you a cashier’s check or send a wire, but you would have to come in for that.”

“Are you saying I would have to drive three hours there and three hours back just to wire the money?”, I asked.


“Bless your heart,” I said, “what else you got?”  

“Probably the best thing would be to open up an account at a bank where you are, then do an external transfer from your account here to your account there.”

“Wait, are you saying I should get a new bank here?”, I asked.

“Yes, that would probably work best.”

My CFI of 40 years was explicitly recommending I find another bank!

This is what my friend and fintech wunderkind, Ben Metz, calls the “trans-local” problem, i.e., how CFIs remain relevant for customers who either never come into a branch or who can’t because they no longer live where the branches are.

POST SCRIPT #1: Fortunately, my mortgage holder later explained that it would accept a standard personal check, and that bit about “guaranteed funds” just meant I needed to have the money in the account I’m writing the check on. In other words, ‘don’t send us a bad check’—this loose use of language ticked me off but saved my relationship with my hometown CFI.

POST SCRIPT #2: Someone else at my CFI—I have a lot of friends there—later clarified that I could originate a wire remotely as long as I satisfied some extra authentication and verification steps over the phone.

My experience has crystallized a few things that are especially important given we are at the beginning of a new era in which CFIs can solve the trans-local problem by making digital banking personal and by servicing remote relationships meaningfully.

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AFT DEGTALK - Lee Wetherington "Better Than Before" 
Thu, Jun 27, 2019 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM EDT 

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