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JPMorgan’s flagship economic publications now available online

Bankers Get Credit for Doing Good

By Bill Poquette

Bankers do many good things in their communities besides keeping depositors’ money safe and lending for homes, cars and businesses. This is not news, but it has become increasingly clear to me recently as I read proofs of state association magazines for which BankNews Media handles advertising and production.


Secrets to a Successful Digital Marketing Strategy

By Erin Oswalt

Q: It seems like banks are always slow to apply new technologies, and if you have opened a bank account recently you can probably relate. I recently waited an hour or more to open a new account, looking desperately at my watch and monitoring office e-mail while bank staff – clearly not in a hurry – typed in all my information at a desktop computer. When I compare this to the length of time it takes me to enroll in PayPal or Uber, from the comfort of my living room, is it any wonder banks are having trouble accelerating growth?

A: The easy answer is that banks need to continue to be more customer-centric and less bank-or product-centric. Banks need to think more like e-commerce companies than traditional banks. And that means really understanding what their customers want and need and why.

It means developing marketing campaigns that make it EASY for prospective customers to say yes. All too often, a new customer is interested in the offer but gets bogged down in complexity when they try to take advantage of it – with complex online experiences, too many forms, and worst case, requirements to visit a bank branch.

At the cornerstone of this issue is the online account opening process. Below are four keys to success, whether a bank is just starting out or re-evaluating an existing online account opening experience.

1. Start with the ABC’s – Otherwise known as the Actionable Business Case. Many digital and marketing strategists know what they want to get done but with tighter regulatory oversight and economic constraints on investment for banks, the hurdles for investment are high. Many banks try to justify digital initiatives based on hard-to-prove new sales volume or a “me, too” strategy to catch up to competitors, and don’t build a compelling case for investment.

First and foremost, banks need to fully understand what their current costs to acquire new customers are. Banks should considering the costs of bank branch personnel, any product specialists, and servicing staff who open and onboard the accounts, and determine an average cost of acquisition for each new customer. When you do the math, getting more customers through digital channels rather than through a branch visit is a no-brainer and creates immediate savings to your bottom line to justify the investment

2. Don’t Dismiss Risk – Another common obstacle to getting from idea to implementation is concern from risk management teams about fraud in the digital space. Our company works with hundreds of banks in online account opening, and the banks that are most innovative have an equally good handle on risk issues as they do on the growth opportunities. Managing risk is simply a fundamental requirement in banking these days. Banks should look to proven technologies and whether or not they can monitor activity across their network of customers, since criminals often use accounts at multiple institutions to commit fraud.

Often risk management tools are embedded in the online account opening software itself, through immediate identity verification and decisioning capabilities for both consumers or businesses. Multi-source identity checks can give an institution more information to make better decisions. Finally, banks need to leverage real-time monitoring solutions and not rely on audit logs to more quickly identify risks.

By conducting due diligence in these areas, digital marketing strategists can turn risk management adversaries into advocates for their ideas.

3. Create an Experience They Love – Many banks make the mistake of implementing online account opening but not really delivering a great experience. For example, the bank may only deliver part of the process online but still require customers to visit the branch to get their account open. This only results in high abandonment rates for online account applications.

Make sure your bank’s process is integrated end to end, which not only delights customers but results in fewer opportunities for them to lose interest and go to a competitor. Ensure your website allows applicants to save their application and resume it later, in case they are missing something important. Mobile is critical – any device, any time, from anywhere.

Online account opening should facilitate mobile photo uploads so that their prospective customers can open accounts when it is convenient for them. Document capture that includes optical character recognition allows the bank to pre-fill forms for their customers, making the process painless and fast.

Finally, investing in online account opening doesn’t mean banks should ignore the experience at the branch. Online account opening can modernize branches with i-pads and self-service tools. This also allows cross-channel interoperability that demonstrates a customer-centric approach.

4. Don’t Forget to Send the Invitations – Have you ever had a party and no one came? Launched a product that no one bought? Just having a great website and modern account-opening experience is not enough. When looking for a new bank, customers will find those banks who have made an effort to reach them. Banks need to take a cohesive approach with ongoing advertising and marketing programs that drive customers to the site. These may feature special products or promotional offers that entice customers to take action. They may also facilitate cross-sell by bundling products together. In other cases, providing meaningful advice through articles and publications can create awareness.

Based on our experience with hundreds of banks, these are the strategies that will help transform your digital channel from simply a website to a sales and marketing engine that can accelerate growth.

Erin Oswalt Photo

Erin Oswalt is the Director of Solutions Marketing for Digital Banking at Bottomline Technologies.  As a marketing strategist, Erin ensures alignment of marketing, sales and product and leads the team in the development of thought leadership content relevant to market challenges and opportunities in digital banking.



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First National Bank Acquires 17 Branches and 383 Million Dollars in Deposits from Fifth Third Bank

September 7 – First National Bank of Pennsylvania, the largest subsidiary of F.N.B. Corporation, has entered into a purchase and assumption agreement to acquire approximately $383 million in retail and private banking deposits, 17 branch banking locations and related consumer loans in the Pittsburgh MSA from Fifth Third Bank. The transaction will be additive to FNB’s retail delivery channel, creating access to over 100 branches in the Company’s Pittsburgh region, and is expected to close in early 2016, subject to regulatory review and approval.


Banks and Credit Unions Should Address Technology Complexity with More — Not Less — Technology, Report Suggests

August 21 – A new research report from management consulting firm Cornerstone Advisors finds that as banks and credit unions struggle with an overload of technology projects, the remedy is having more technology—not less technology.


Credit Union to the Cannabis Industry Sues NCUA, Federal Reserve

August 4 – A state-chartered credit union designed to provide compliant banking services to the cannabis and hemp industries, as well as non-cannabis businesses, has filed lawsuits against the National Credit Union Administration and the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City after both entities issued denial letters in response to TFCCU’s pending applications. (more…)

OCC Hosts Compliance and Credit Risk Workshops in Kansas

July 24 – The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency will host two workshops in Wichita, Kansas, at the Hyatt Regency Wichita, August 18-19, for directors of national community banks and federal savings associations.


OCC Hosts Pennsylvania Workshops on Risk Governance and Credit Risk

July 2 – The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency will host two workshops in Harrisburg, Penn., at the Crowne Plaza Harrisburg – Hershey, July 28-29, for directors of national community banks and federal savings associations.


OCC Details Top Supervisory Concerns

June 30 — Interest rate risks, loosening underwriting standards and cybersecurity are among the top supervisory concerns in the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency’s Semiannual Risk Perspective for Spring 2015. (more…)

OCC Hosts Risk Governance and Compliance Workshops in Iowa

May 29 – The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency will host two workshops in Des Moines, Iowa, at the Embassy Suites Des Moines Downtown, July 14-15, for directors of national community banks and federal savings associations.


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