Friday, March 25, 2011

My, How Times have Changed

This has been one long, but very good, week. We just finished the first of four, two- day demonstrations from Core Banking systems vendors. As an organization, we last went through this process in 2000. What's interesting is the types of things we are looking for from a vendor today compared to then. Here's a highlight of just a few:
  • Online Banking and Bill Pay- This customer facing service was still in it's infancy in 2000 while limited bill pay services were only offered through the largest financial institutions. Today, that is a standard requirement for any bank, large or small.
  • Online Account Opening- All deposit or loan accounts were opened through a traditional channel, a branch or perhaps a call center. Now, in addition to supporting these channels, an online application is required and, oh yeah, you better support it with a online chat feature so they can chat with you from your website.
  • Mobile Banking- The most recent entry to the self service channel is now a requirement as well. With the proliferation of smart phones and other devices, customers expect to have access to their banking services anytime and anywhere.

As we meet with these vendors, it is no longer acceptable to provide functional systems. We are looking for partners who are following trends in the industry and spending money on new technologies, anticipating the next customer need. With the speed of change, we can't go it alone.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Some Random Social Media items

Here are a few random items that I came across over the last week. Happy St. Patrick's Day to everyone!

  • From The Financial Brand, an article outlining the results of a the Edelman survey on Trust in US Financial Services. Not surprisingly, consumers still showed little faith in their financial institutions. For those of you in social media, the good news is that consumers value "honest communication" and "open and transparent" as the most important factors affecting reputation. Isn't that what social media is really all about?

  • On a related note, one of my co-workers shared an article on Financial about the limited adoption of social media in financial services. There is one particular quote that was spot on, "The downside for many is compliance. 'It takes five minutes to sign up for Facebook, but three to four months to make a social media plan that makes your legal and compliance departments satisfied,' said Hadley Stern of Fidelity Investments." Sound all too familiar? I think this is one of the biggest hurdles many organizations face as they consider engaging in these channels.

  • From the "How not to use Social Media in B2B Sales", I recently received a tweet from some random guy asking me if I wanted to see a demo of his company's "Actionable Alert" product. I had no idea who he is, where he's from, or even how he found me. This kind of approach is like asking a girl out on a first date when you haven't even been introduced. The least he could have done was provide some context for why I would even be interested. Not cool. He should talk to @Clagett from Geezeo about how to use social media to engage prospects.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The real story behind the Merrill Lynch,Bank of America merger

On a rather long, often delayed trip to the West Coast, I had the opportunity to read Crash of the Titans: Greed, Hubris, the Fall of Merrill Lynch, and the Near-Collapse of Bank of America by Greg Farrell. While it is a fascinating tale of the clash of two very different organizations, one about to fail and another on life support, it was of particular interest to me as a former BofA employee. The descriptions of the culture of the bank and in Charlotte was spot on.

I became an employee through the merger of a bank in Baltimore to NationsBank in 1993 , the predecessor of BofA. I remember the teams pouring in from Charlotte to help us "learn" the bank's way of doing things. Even then, it was clear that we were the acquired and they were in charge. It was described as a meritocracy and it was; if you hailed from Charlotte. Based on this story, that appears to still be the case today.

With even a slight understanding of the history of Merrill Lynch, you can only imagine the conflict. This is a great read and gives a good behind the scenes look at the near collapse of the financial system.