Future of Banking
One constant in my banking career is change. I was talking to my friend John just this past weekend, and he reminded me that it was 25 years since Sue and I introduced him to his wife, Christine. In that conversation, he mentioned our time together at Gloversville Federal Savings.
I was born in Gloversville and was thrilled that I was offered a job in my hometown bank, but I didn’t know what was in store for me when I started! Within the first 60 days, the president was dismissed and I was tasked with keeping things together while the Board searched for a President. We had to change just about everything – all computers, wiring, products and services, loan processing, employee benefits, internal controls…it was just never ending! I worked with terrific people who just kept things moving along, and believe me, it was not easy for any of us.
We all fall into routines, and the folks at Gloversville Federal had established a whole series of routines. The routines were okay but far from optimal. In time, with each change recommended, I learned to address the need and the ease of what was being implemented. But before that, I had to assure those affected that habits and routines are fine. In fact, I thank God for those. Imagine if we had to think about everything fresh and new each day – no habits or routines. What shall I wear? Do I have those directions to work written down…Absurd, I know, but without routines and habits, we literally would need to think these things through.
But let’s talk more practically. In the early 1990s when I started in banking, many people had a routine of stopping by the Bank to deposit their Social Security or Pension checks, updating their passbooks, paying their utility bill or even to get some postage stamps. Some regularly stopped in the Bank to get cash! Sound familiar? Most would say, not really. That’s because technology changed it all! Direct deposit, auto pay and ATMs changed our routines. Look at all the time saved and convenience added by these innovations.
These changes were not always easy to embrace. I know that there were significant concerns over direct deposit of Social Security checks. In fact, the government had to force this change in order to save on the cost of mailing all those checks!
Today, technology moves so much faster to disrupt our routines and habits. I just recently installed the Apple system upgrade to my iPad. Have you noticed that the Apple updates are coming more often than they used to? Someday, ask one of my children what I think about that. I delayed putting in the update because I think Apple is taking a bite out of the Microsoft playbook – do everything fast with less concern over excellence of service and make change for change’s sake. Well, I hate the update. Why you ask? Because the “swipe” to open is gone. Now, every time I go to unlock the thing, I swipe right. This changes the screen to show me my calendar but doesn’t unlock the device. So frustrating! I have to do more to open access the iPad, delaying access to Netflix a whole three seconds. My response? Why change that?
In banking we see the same thing happening. The extent to which we rely on technology in banking is incredible. Our entire communication network is internet-based – lines between offices, phones, computers, the works. We are even in the cloud! (Yes, it’s secure. It’s a private cloud, and no, not just anyone can access it.).
Our mobile banking module allows deposits on the go. Money can be exchanged between private parties on a cell phone! Accounts are opened online. We even have virtual bankers interacting with our customers in Farmington and Seneca Falls. Now, all this change is driven by our customers. Believe me when I tell you, we don’t lie awake trying to think up things to do. Personally, I’d like for everyone on the technology side to take a small vacation. But, I do love what they’ve come up with.
I just finished watching Amadeus on NetFlix. I started watching it about three weeks ago. Isn’t that something? I did the same thing with True Grit and Patton. One took me over two months to watch. The best part? I could watch it wherever and whenever I wanted! I submit that it doesn’t get any better! Well, in banking, the same innovation and convenience is now available through Generations. But, here’s what we have in addition to the technology – people. We kept the human piece in the equation. We want to help our customers adapt.
You may say, “Well, if the customers want the change, why do they have to learn to adapt?” All I can say to that is that I want the convenience and the extra time bought with that convenience, but I don’t always understand the “How” behind it all. Riddle me this – how does one change the password for AppleTV if the little clicker is lost for the 50th time? Google it? Nope, hate it. Too many words. Call a kid and have them walk me through it! I just want someone to take me through it, I’ll take notes and then I’ll do it the next time. Or, in reality, I’ll ignore everything the kid says and have them do it the next time as well. That’s why we keep the people!
So, if you walk into our Farmington or Seneca Falls Offices and don’t know what to do, someone will help you. Don’t worry! We’ll do that every time. However, I predict in time, you, just as I, will take on the task ourselves when it’s part of our routine. However, for those times when we just don’t need to adapt – like resetting the AppleTV password or setting the VCR time – we’ll get a kid to do it for you.