“When you think about a regional community bank, the culture is the people who work within it and the people in the community,” Taylor said. “And I don’t think that culture needs to change significantly,” Groves said. “If this is handled correctly, even a small-town bank that’s focused on customer relationships can keep the same culture, philosophy and mission within the bank.”
“One important question is ‘How do you keep employees connected to your cultural identity and your brand promise while they work in an increasingly digital and distributed way?’ It’s critical to have that culture shine through in positive ways while serving customers – those things don’t change,” Acevedo said.
“It’s about having the right people, equipped to answer the questions that go along with the changing ways that customers bank,” Groves said. “So, instead of having all of your tellers waiting for foot traffic to come in, maybe have some of those people serve a call center or work from home answering questions about the bank’s new technology and digital offerings.”
Teach new ways to interact
“We need to consider how these communities will reach out to their patrons without physically seeing them anymore,” Taylor said. “There are going to be some big changes, and some significant technology challenges, especially for some individuals who have worked in their banks for years. Regional banks are going to need to teach some very new skills to some people in the bank, and some people in the community.”
Apart from learning new technologies, employees need to learn new ways to do some traditional things. “If your employees are used to helping people make choices about financial products and services in person, you’ll need to teach employees new approaches to identifying needs through the lens of a computer,” Taylor said. “Instead of saying ‘While you’re here, the paperwork is very similar for another service,’ you might need to say, ‘Knowing that you’re starting a business, here are some other products that you should consider.’”
Track your performance and productivity
As banks assess performance and plan for the future in new digital models, it’s important to establish the baselines, data and tools to measure performance and productivity. Banks need to ensure they are tracking key growth, efficiency and risk dimensions.
“With the push toward remote work, it’s important to make sure that your workforce is still productive and meeting stated goals and objectives – whether or not they’re the same now as they were a few months ago,” Groves said. “And those goals need to be clear.” Digital ways of working can yield clear and valuable metrics, but banks need to know what numbers to capture and how to interpret them.
“It’s not all just dollars and cents,” Acevedo said. “It’s ‘performance and productivity,’ broadly defined. It’s employee engagement. It’s employee sentiment. It’s customer satisfaction. It’s employee adherence to controls. It’s the cost to serve. There are many levers of performance that have to be tracked and managed.” Now is a good time for banks to assess how they are performing in key dimensions and create action plans to close the gaps. What will enhance performance while at the same time help you build resilience, agility and adaptability into the organization?
It’s your move
As bank managers consider questions about new trends, they might be responsible to find the answers themselves. The pace of recent changes has pushed more managers and employees to address challenges on their own.
“We’ve found that the decision-making hierarchy has flattened,” Groves said. “Many banks are putting more responsibility and onus on branch-level managers. They’re creating policies and communicating more, to drive that decision making down, just because of the sheer number of decisions that have been made in a short amount of time. So, branch-level managers have policies and procedures that guide them, but more responsibility really rests on them now, as opposed to regional managers or directors.”
“Banks have had to adapt. They’ll have to adapt further going forward, and it’s a big ocean. That’s why a framework can help bring it back to themes like productivity, performance, resilience, control and customer experience,” Groves said.
Banks can use a decision framework that aligns performance strategies with revised business and operating strategies to inform their decision-making and roadmaps. This helps to inform their strategies and redefine their approach to being successful digital-era banks. “At the end of the day, banks are still going to have the same objectives – happy customers, happy employees, high growth, high profitability, high earnings per share – for an acceptable level of risk. That doesn’t change,” Acevedo said.