Author: Milton King, email@example.com
Now before you start worrying that you inadvertently stumbled on to Home&Garden.com instead of Strategically Speaking, let me explain the title. In the life of every organization it has to make the decision on which functions need to be managed internally (in-house) versus those that can be contracted through someone else who specializes in that function (hosted).
From a technology perspective, hosting can come in several forms. Managed Hosting can include critical business systems such as core banking solutions (Core) and beyond to include the entire information processing environment. These can require high levels of security, redundancy and processing power. The other end of the spectrum could be solutions for specific, non-critical functions within an organization. The interesting paradox here is that both the critical and non-critical functions can be equally attractive for an organization looking for a hosted solution.
Different organizations often have completely different approaches to the same issue. In the banking industry, you could talk to two bankers with similar organizations and find out they have opposite approaches to the use of hosted solutions. Sheila (CIO at Bank A) wouldn’t dream of depending on a third party to maintain her Core because she views it as the back-bone of their organization and wants complete control. Ron (COO at Bank B) says “We are a bank not an IT company” and wants to leave the systems side of house to the experts. He views the “IT stuff” as a tool that his bank uses verses a part of the bank itself. This is where the “Art” component comes in to play.
There are probably additional factors that influence our two bankers. Sheila may be in an area that is rich in IT resources, whereas Ron is in area where they are scarce. Sheila could be in a market where a bank has to offer the latest and greatest technology to be competitive. Ron may operate in a more traditional banking market. We artists, provider of solutions to both Sheila and Ron have to develop a set of offering/services to meet both of their needs.
Sheila wants control of her Core but may not feel the same about some of the other systems in her bank. While she knows “everything” about the Core itself, she may be less knowledgeable about ATMs, remote capture, document management, financial analysis and all of the necessary functions in her bank. Sheila’s hosted solution(s) would take care of all of those functions.
Ron needs to know that his Core is going to provide the functionality he needs, with minimal drama. Remember, it is a tool that allows him to be a good banker. Ron just wants to know the tools will be there when he needs them. If a hosted solution is the best way to assure him of that, he is on board.
Sheila and Ron are fictional characters, but you probably identify with one or the other or have worked with someone like them. Neither approach is correct or incorrect. They are simply different.
If you have read my postings before, you know that I like to give the history on a topic while discussing it. Hosting is a relatively new concept. It has really been in broad use for the past 15-20 years. Outsourcing dates back further but is still a relatively modern concept. Hosting is often considered an offspring of outsourcing and in-house. It is a middle-ground that offers the consumer direct interaction with the system (outsourcing tends to be completely hands-off) without the responsibility of owning and operating it (in-house). If you take the best of in-house and combine it with the best of outsourcing you get hosted.
What the market is telling both the product developers and users is - the more options the better. Sheila and Ron should be able to go all hosted, all in-house or, most likely, a combination of both. As you look to find solutions for your organization, be sure your systems provider has a solid strategy for both hosted and in-house solutions. It is likely you will need both.
Author: Darlene Stoltz, DStoltz@profitstars.com
As scholar once said: If you fail to take care of your legacy you’re left with nothing! So true, in so many ways. In the last 6 months mergers and acquisitions are once again on the rise in the financial arena. Thus, there is a direct correlation to this phrase and protecting what you have acquired is key. Legacy core banking systems and acquisition data involves multiple data warehouses and various transactional systems, which add up to a high total cost of ownership and require constant integration and interoperability updates. Increased retention regulations and compliance involving the tracking of financial transactions on acquisition and customer data have augmented banks’ responsibility, forcing them to maintain the data and its accessibility and provide greater transparency to regulators. Therefore, the ownership of this data and protecting this “legacy” archive becomes very important and should be considered early in your acquisition strategy. Here are several factors to consider:
Compliance and retention regulations concerning acquisition and digital data:
- Compliance - regulatory requirements require that financial institutions retain seven years of check images, seven to ten years of document images, and the same for COLD reports. However, some financial institutions believe they should indefinitely keep trust, lockbox and loans for the life of the document.
- Cost Containment – due to compliance retention requirements a financial institution must have access to the check images, document images, statements, signature cards and COLD reports. You could leave the data in their present system, but the hardware and software maintenance fees become costly over a seven to ten year period.
- Risk Mitigation – converting all legacy data into one system ensures less risk when disaster strikes. Hardware and software failures happen daily so why leave data on obsolete hardware or in a stand-alone system with little or no ongoing preservation.
Best practices concerning acquisition and digital data:
- Continuity of Data – easily and quickly fulfilling research requests from demanding customers is what your employees strive for. Having several systems to research, post-acquisition, can be an issue especially when some of those employees familiar with those systems are no longer employed within the financial institution.
- Efficiency – having all data in one financial system archive provides integration to all other ancillary solutions the financial institution uses to easily access accurate information.
- Effective Customer Service - disparate, incompatible, non-integrated systems along with outdated technology will not allow your financial institution to operate at an optimal level and therefore limit your ability to adequately serve this newly acquired customer base.
The growth strategy you have designed is the legacy you will leave behind. As a financial organization grows, demand for information grows with it. Therefore, consider what the best strategy would be for your financial institution to make certain no loss of legacy data occurs during the acquisition. By doing this you will ensure your “legacy” is always protected.
Author: Tammy Wilson, TaWilson@jackhenry.com
My role as a Product Manager includes industry analysis and constantly considering what is next, but when I stop momentarily to look back, I am amazed. Amazed at just how much and how quickly things are progressing and adapting. The internet and its byproducts have transformed our world in just a few short years, and there is no sign of slowing down. With endless information at our fingertips, we can buy virtually anything, research everything, and interact with anyone - all from anywhere. While that sounds so liberating, an argument can be made that this ability creates a paradox. This seemingly wonderful, limitless marketplace and society that provides us with endless options and boundless opportunity results in something called analysis paralysis. There is just too much. At what point do we stop considering the right mix of options? What is the perfect thing? When do we know enough to make the best decision? As an example, I am going through this at the moment as I upgrade an older security system in my home. The owner of a local security company came to visit; and when he understood that I was technical enough to have some fairly specific requests, he provided some suggestions for me to consider. The next thing I know, I have spent hours Googling and am no less settled on a decision than I was when he left. He didn’t intend for me to be frustrated. He wanted to make sure that I felt I was selecting the best option for me. But, I was overwhelmed with the information, the options, and the burden of the choice. And I knew that whatever I chose, I would have some level of remorse because it wasn’t perfect.
At some point, you must decide what is meaningful and ignore the rest. What services are the most important to you and to your customers, and what really doesn’t matter? Do you need all three hundred and seventy-two options? Maybe yes, but maybe no. What value do you put on relationships, integrity, and partnership? I ended up calling the security company owner and said “As long as you tell me this system can do X and Y and have options for Z in the future, I’m going to trust you to do what is best and leave this in your hands.” I hung up, and my mind was free of the decision. Now, I won’t pretend that at some point I may not say “I wish this thing did A and B.” But, I had other things that I needed to move on to; and I recognized that if I waited to act until I thought that I had my wish list defined completely, the upgrade would never happen. The downfall to the complete paralysis that results is no forward movement. In a business case, you quickly get bypassed, left behind, and become irrelevant.
With all that is going on in many industries, but particularly financial services, I think that analysis paralysis is a real factor. What is brewing for some new regulation to come along that will completely turn us all on our heads (again)? What non-bank entity is plotting to step into our space and gobble up our customers? What transforming technology might shift everything and eliminate a revenue stream we rely on today? While none of us have a crystal ball, a trusted partner with resources dedicated to making sense of it all is the most valuable thing that you can have. While you spend your time tending to the needs of your customers, a skilled group of industry experts are looking out for you, your future, and your customers. It’s the epitome of “I’ve got people.” Your people have your back, and I would argue that having the utmost faith in your people to sift through the never-ending stream of information to help you decipher the things that matter IS the most important thing.
Author:Lesley Karstens, firstname.lastname@example.org
For those of you that have seen the ABC show The Goldbergs you’ve been transported back to the 80’s where times were simpler and Atari®, Trapper Keeper® and Reebok® Pumps were all the rage. I find myself saying several times during the show “oh yeah, I remember that! “
Some of the major inventions of the 80’s include the personal computer, the compact disc, the disposable camera, and the cellular phone. Most of us still use these products religiously although they have dramatically changed since the 80’s. The reason for change is because as consumers we demanded that things be intuitive, easier to use and ultimately save us time.
Another invention of the 80’s was Microsoft Excel®. Excel was originally released in 1982 but didn’t gain wide spread momentum until 1987. It is understandable why even in 2014 we are still comfortable with Excel and use it daily. Everyone understands it and it makes completing some tasks so simple and quick. However, there does come a point where the limitations of Excel do start to show, and turn simple and quick, into confusing and time consuming. Just as times are more complicated than they were in the 80’s so are some of the processes that we’ve depended on Excel for. So for all of you still using spreadsheets for budgeting … the 80’s called and they want their Excel spreadsheets back! It’s time to evolve and recognize that embracing new technologies and leveraging best practices allows for faster output and more time for analysis/decision making, especially when it comes to budgeting.
Top 10 Reasons to Send Spreadsheets Back to the 80’s:
- Efficiency – Data downloads replace data entry and ensure budget accuracy by bringing in cash flows.
- Historical Information – Provides easy reference to trends when making budget assumptions.
- Utilizing drivers and statistics captured during download means less manual input and a faster budgeting cycle.
- Variance Reporting and Rolling Forecasts- Forward looking view with up to date data.
- What-if Modeling – Easily run various scenarios during your planning meetings.
- Multi-User – Excel is a single user tool, collaborate and consolidate more effectively.
- Distribution – Who knows where those emailed spreadsheets end up!
- Version Confusion/Forecast Tracking – Keep everyone on the same page and keep track of what’s been done so far.
- Broken/Incorrect Formulas – Who wants to run the risk of making decisions on missing information or an incorrect formula?
- Workflow – Knowing budget status and having mid-level approvals can clean up the flow.
By sending your spreadsheets back to the 80’s your financial institution can simplify the budgeting process and become more efficient.
Author: Jenny Roland-Vlach, JRoland-Vlach@jackhenry.com
Here we are at the end of April and my Inbox has had quite a few email alerts from various regulatory entities. These alerts have covered an array of topics with the most prevalent being an apparent current uptick in cyber-related risk. So, in case you may have missed one of these, among the multitude of emails you probably receive each day, I thought I would use this opportunity to provide a brief overview of this recent flurry of activity plus suggested steps to address outlined objectives.
Cyber-Attacks on Financial Institutions ATM and Card Authorization Systems
In light of the ATM cash-out schemes that had taken place recently, an alert was issued to provide details on how this type of fraud had occurred, the risks presented to financial institutions (FIs), and what FIs could do to mitigate these risks.
Essentially, the criminals behind these cash-out schemes were able to gain access to web-based ATM platforms, perhaps through malware installed via phishing emails. Once they gained access, they were able to manipulate withdrawal limits and then the criminals simultaneously hit multiple ATMs where they withdrew large amounts of cash. One such attack by the group Unlimited Operations was able to net over $40 million.
The alert went on to list measures that FIs should take to help mitigate potential attacks, including:
- Ongoing information security risk assessments,
- Perform security monitoring, prevention, and risk mitigation,
- Protecting against unauthorized access, implement and test controls on critical systems regularly,
- Conduct information security awareness training,
- Test incident response plans, and
- Participate in industry information sharing forums.
If there is an item on this list that you have not addressed in some time, use this as an opportunity to get it up-to-date.
Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) Cyber-Attacks and Risk Mitigation
Everyone is well aware of the DDoS attacks that have been plaguing FIs since 2012. These attacks have been used to slow website response times or render websites unavailable all together. In more dire situations, DDoS attacks have been used as a distraction while running a corporate account takeover attack. This alert and the ongoing publicity surrounding these attacks mainly serves as a reminder that these attacks will probably not be going away anytime soon and that there are steps FIs can use to prevent and deal with an attack. The following steps are expected of FIs:
- Maintain an information security program and risk assessment,
- Monitor Internet traffic to your website in order to detect an attack (establish a baseline so you can easily discern an increase in activity)
- Activate incident response plans if you believe a DDoS attack is occurring and be sure to notify service providers such as your Internet Service Provider,
- Ensure appropriate staffing for the duration of an attack,
- Consider sharing information with organizations such as FS-ISAC and law enforcement to help other FIs respond to their own potential DDoS attacks, and
- Evaluate any gaps that were discovered during the implementation of your incident response plan.
The FDIC provides a listing of resources that can be used to better identify and mitigate potential cyber-risks. These sources are both government entities and government-sponsored entities and include the following:
- United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US – CERT)
- U.S. Secret Service Electronic Crimes Task Force (ECTF)
- FBI InfraGard
- Regional Coalitions
- Information Sharing and Analysis Centers (ISACs)
The FDIC encourages subscribing to these various groups to ensure that you receive regular security alerts, tips, and other updates. They also encourage visiting vendors’ websites and checking with those vendors for existing user groups.
OpenSSL “Heartbleed” Vulnerability
I have no doubt that you have already heard a good deal about the Heartbleed vulnerability given the prolific amount of media attention that it has received. This alert highlights how an attacker may be able to exploit the vulnerability and potentially access a server’s private cryptographic keys, resulting in compromised security of the server and its users. The information gained could be used to impersonate FIs, steal login credentials, access sensitive information or gain access to internal networks.
This alert provides additional measures for FIs to implement accordingly:
- Ensure that vendors who use Open SSL are aware of the vulnerability and have taken risk mitigation steps on their end (hopefully any affected vendors have already notified you that they are aware of the situation and are researching and working on the vulnerability),
- Monitor the efforts of those vendors,
- Identify and upgrade any internal systems or products that may be vulnerable, and
- Ensure adherence to appropriate patch management policy and procedures.
It ends with encouragement to utilize cyber-security resources like the ones I mentioned earlier.
Obviously, FIs have had a good deal of information thrown their way over the past few weeks. Most of the expectations outlined in these alerts should already be a part of your current risk based processes. However, it is important to not let these alerts become background noise. These should serve as reminders for reviewing/updating and ensuring your risk management and compliance efforts continue to meet those expectations.
Keeping your policies and procedures up-to-date and capitalizing on valuable cyber-security resources will also help in these proactive efforts.
Author: Tom Edwards, email@example.com
It’s an age old question - Which came first? The cart or the horse? In the software world, the question actually becomes do you implement first before you integrate?
When our Margin Maximizer team shakes contractual hands with financial institutions, here’s a common dialogue that follows:
“Does it talk to our core system?”
“Of course we can using extracts.”
“Perfect. When can you train our lenders?”
“We can be onsite in under two months. They’ll be using the system before we leave.
… But integration can take a bit longer.”
After all, to integrate we must collaborate to define, create, test, and verify the extracts and imports many times across vendors. Integration requires some planning.
Next comes our client’s dilemma: do they begin using this decidedly valuable tool right away – or do they wait to implement after integrating with other systems?
When asked for my opinion (as a product specialist), I propose that the answer lies in determining whether the integration brings the value, or boosts the value. In other words, can the horse do something valuable without the cart?
Most choices come down to payback. When will our client’s investment pay them back? A horse cannot race for the finish, until released from the stall. And (trust me here) it’s called a stall for a reason.
Bringing the Value:
A solution that can improve overall lending performance – supporting confidence in loan pricing decisions, and the assurance that your business with business is always earning a return.
Boosting the Value:
A solution that enables automated transfer of existing loan and relationship data into your pricing system, avoiding time-consuming manual entries.
It’s safe to state that most software products fall firmly on the expense side of the income statement. Many of these products likely contribute by improving efficiencies or controlling costs. But a few products can actually stimulate revenue.
Notice! You can start racing that horse now (with some manual entry), then pull home early winnings in the cart, once the hitch arrives.
Why delay immediate improvement when you could fund some of your other projects with ‘early winnings’?
Author: Chris Sutherland, CSutherland@jackhenry.com
Winter has come and gone, or at least we all hope so around my house. I have three boys and we always have a sporting event going on, but this time of the year mom can also always find a spring cleaning task that needs to be completed: cleaning closets, the garage, washing windows; we can go on and on.
Your IT Department can be handled the same way. As an installation engineer I can make a good case that cleaning of systems do not happen often enough. I have seen so many IT systems out there that have files that have not been touched for months, years, or even decades. In a world where storage space can be a hot commodity and back-up jobs seem to get larger and take longer to complete, a good spring cleaning of the shared directories is something that IT administrators should put on their calendars as well.
So the next question is how do you determine what is safe to clean up? The age old argument is that “if I delete it, someone will want it”. Are there tools that can help administrators with determining the files that no one has really accessed? In the release of Windows Server® 2008 there was a feature added to the operating system called file server role. This role allows many things that most administrators are not taking advantage of. With this feature enabled you have the ability to do several things that can make life simpler. For example:
- Get reports generated to talk with management and users about what’s on the system.
- Set policies for quota limits on folders, groups, or users.
- Create access policies as well as policies to report on files that have not been accessed in a period of time that you as an administrator can determine.
- Have the ability to enable de-duplication on your files servers (if you have also updated or are considering the latest Windows Server® 2012 operating system). This is particularly great for those financial institutions that seem to have the same copy of a file in one user’s directory; a group’s shared folder and then the correct original location. We know that never happens, yea right.
These are just a few ideas for you to think about for spring cleaning your IT systems. Have you already started some spring cleaning? Have questions or other tips – share them!
Author: Kevin Moland, KMoland@profitstars.com
In the early 1990’s, the owner of the small commercial bank where I served as the Data Processing Officer decided to shake things up a bit by removing a relatively popular head of operations and replacing him with the Vice President of Marketing. Marketing! As seasoned operations managers, my peers and I settled in for the train wreck we knew was coming.
But then, something incredible happened.
I remember the first meeting with our newly crowned leader. Sitting in his glass-walled office, looking out over the couple dozen employees in the operations center, the following conversation ensued:
New Boss: So, who waits on customers when they come to the Customer Service counter?
Team: The interns and junior members of the group.
New Boss: Well, who knows the most and could help the customers most effectively?
Team: The senior staff, but they’ve been here longer and they don’t have to wait on customers anymore.
New Boss: So, when customers come, we don’t send the people who could help them the most. Instead, we send the people who can help them the least?
He looked at us. We looked down at our shoes. And then everything began to change.
Under his guidance, we began to put a premium on real customer service and on the people who engaged our clients at the front line. We became much more interested in what our customers had to say and, based on survey results, we began to analyze and improve every area that involved direct customer interaction. After a year, our operations staff began leaving for jobs on the teller line or at the new accounts desks because our entire organization had come to value (and compensate) those with the skills to provide superior face-to-face customer service.
I thought about those events recently while reading a series of articles about managing the online user experience. With online services becoming a more frequent touch point for customers and members, it’s important for financial institutions to consider the level of customer service embedded in their electronic channels. If you want to give your customers and members a consistent, positive impression of your organization, you have to extend your penchant for service to your technology products, too.
In software circles, UX (User Experience) is the new buzzword. Driven primarily by the smartphone and tablet revolution, users now expect more effective and engaging online services. "User-friendly" has always been a goal for technology vendors, but thanks to the remarkable capabilities inherent in today’s smartphones and tablets, the bar for online engagement has been pushed dramatically higher. This is especially true in the financial services arena, where products are highly commoditized and customer service is one of the few—if not the only—legitimate means of distinguishing your organization from its competitors.
So how can banks and credit unions be sure their technology-based offerings provide the same high level of customer service as their people? Since most community institutions rely on vendor partners for these services, the more pertinent question could be how can you be sure your technology partners care as much about your users' experience as you do?
Here are some questions you can ask yourself to determine whether or not a current or prospective vendor is likely to provide an optimal experience for your users.
1. Is this vendor dedicated to customer service?
It's important to remember that UX is just an online extension of good, old fashioned customer service. If your vendor provides a poor customer service experience for you, how likely are they provide a top notch online experience for your customers or members? Vendors that place a priority on customer service, including a willingness to interact directly with your clients as part of a first-level support program, are far more likely to meet those clients' needs as they design and improve their products.
2. When asked about UX, does the vendor maximize or minimize its importance?
You can often determine from conversations with its product managers or executives whether or not a particular vendor "gets it" regarding UX design. While you can't rely on lip service alone to gauge a vendor's commitment to providing an excellent user experience, it could be a red flag if a company doesn't verbalize their UX commitment well when asked about it specifically.
3. Most importantly, do a vendor’s recent and upcoming releases provide evidence that UX is one of their primary product themes?
Take a look at a company's recently released products. Do they exhibit evidence of insightful UX design? Ask about their product roadmap. Since most roadmaps are built around a handful of primary themes, you should be able to tell if UX is one of those themes by determining if a meaningful percentage of proposed enhancements demonstrate an effort to improve the user experience. You may even want to ask who a company relies on for UX expertise. Because it's an emerging field, many companies—even large ones—rely on industry experts to help them optimize the UX. If a vendor’s reps just say, "Oh, our developers are pretty good at that kind of thing," chances are, they aren't.
At the end of the day, the most important thing you can do is to let your vendors know that you care about UX. Vendors understand that what's important to you has to be important to them, too. If you speak up, your UX focus will eventually become their UX focus. You’ve worked hard to make your customers and members feel loved and appreciated in all their interactions with your company. If you want them to keep feeling that love, be sure you focus on UX when evaluating new or existing technology partners.
Author: Rob Hudecek, RHudecek@profitstars.com
My father is a Director of Photography with over 40 years of experience working in film and television. Growing up in the “industry” allowed me the unique opportunity to become a lighting film crew member for several films, including “My Best Friend’s Wedding” with Julia Roberts and “Hoffa” with Jack Nicholas and Danny DeVito (and to date was the best part-time job I have ever had). Fortunately, this was not a position that was simply given to me, and I had to earn and learn my way from the ground up.
If you have ever watched behind-the-scenes footage of a film being made, you will notice there are more parts and people behind the camera than there are in the front. From lighting to grip equipment, to cables to set decoration, my biggest challenge starting out was knowing what equipment and configuration to use in order to create a scene that seemed natural to the viewer. Seeking advice from my father, he simply stated that he always starts with what he wants the scene to look like and then works backwards from there. Creativity without knowledge only gets you part of the way, as you also need to understand the capabilities and limitations of the equipment and people attached to the project in order for any scene to succeed.
This same advice can be used for almost any industry. Often times we emphasize, or even get overwhelmed by, the number of tools we have at our disposal, rather than visualizing the solution first and working backwards. When offering merchant treasury services, from remote deposit capture to lockbox, this is no less true. As the number of financial software features and modules continue to grow, it is easy to lose sight of what the merchant actually needs to accomplish their goals. Where we see software tools, merchants only see the presented solution. Just as in a film scene, every merchant’s need is a little different, and there is often more than one way to fulfill them. Where many service offerings fall short and customer frustrations arise is when we try to standardize the merchant, rather than make the service a natural extension of their business. The two ways to begin this process is by knowing your merchant and knowing the available tools.
Know Your Merchant
We often use this statement exclusively for risk; however this same approach can be used to help set the merchant “scene” as well:
- What type of business do they have?
- What type of payments do they receive (check, cash, credit card, reoccurring, payment portals, etc.)?
- Know their payment volumes (monthly / seasonal highs & lows).
- Additional image requirements (i.e. coupon / correspondence / envelopes including scannable versus non-scannable item handling).
- Field records that need to be captured and interfaced with their receivables and / or payables.
- Turnaround / cutoff times as well as physical / image item retention requirements.
- Industry or specific features & requests (PCI Compliance, HIPAA, and so forth).
Know Your Tools
Strong awareness of the available software features is required to construct the solution for your merchant:
- Hardware and operating system environments supported for the merchant.
- What scanner capabilities do they need (auto feed, endorsements, mixed work, speed, OCR capable, and so forth)?
- Real-time, near real-time, or batch posting requirements.
- Scalability based on merchant growth (additional volume, locations, etc.).
- Security and division of duties.
- Customized branding and integration into current platforms.
- Ability to support the merchant (technical and best practice recommendations).
Though you may not be able to standardize every merchant scenario, you can make the solutions appear like they are. Start employing a shared vision with your merchant, backed by knowledge of all the available software tools. From this baseline you can often leverage “in the box” products to create the necessary “out of the box” solutions for your customers.
Author: Barbara Vega, BVega@profitstars.com
If you remember a time before cable TV and microwaves, you’re not a millennial. If you remember a time before computers and cell phones, you’re not a millennial. If you remember a time when there was no ‘e’ before mail, you’re definitely not a millennial.
Millennials, or Gen Y’s, are those born between 1982 and 1993 and a generation that’s roughly 77 million strong; larger than the Baby Boomer generation and three times the size of Generation X. Generations, like people, have personalities. Millennials –teens and twenty-something’s currently making the passage into adulthood – have begun to build theirs: confident, self-expressive, liberal, upbeat and receptive to new ideas and ways of living. And this generation is wired…or should I say wireless.
Today’s kids are tomorrow’s customers and members. If your financial institution is going to flourish in the future, you need to start courting the next generation of money-makers now. And be warned: these young consumers have very different financial habits than their parents! So what to do?
Ironically, we have a high-tech group of individuals that are very social, but in impersonal ways. These young people are very connected virtually; texting, tweeting, FaceBooking, Instagramming is the way to communicate.
This digitally endemic group has pushed back each of the five milestones of adulthood: completing school, leaving home, becoming financially independent, marrying and having children. The Pew Research Center’s survey, Young, Underemployed and Optimistic, gives us a great insight into Gen Y’s situation. The report showed, among other things, that 34% of 25-29 year olds have moved back home with their parents.
Access them through the technology and mobile arena
Connect with them where they exist! Millennials have grown up in a world where they are surrounded by technology, and that technology has developed at a faster rate than ever before.
A Cisco Connected Worldwide Technology survey discovered that 90% of Gen Y checks their emails, texts and social media accounts using their smartphones before they even get out of bed. There is also evidence that millennials do everything online, from shopping, to reading the news and watching television. Convenience and immediacy are priorities for this group of individuals, especially when it comes to banking. A LemonTree white paper, Understanding the New Age Wave: Gen Y, found 80% have used online banking in the past month, a higher percentage than any other generation. “They are less likely to ever enter a bank branch and want to do all their banking on their own schedule from home. Because of this, mobile banking has also taken off for Gen Y.” They also use this service more frequently than the average customer.
Gen Y consumers don’t necessarily want high tech solutions in isolation; just as important, they want support, advice, and more knowledgeable people speaking to them than they currently experience in their banking interactions. A large number of Gen Y consumers have never balanced a checkbook, but instead they monitor their accounts online to manage their finances; and 25 percent say they do not manage their finances at all.
Fifty-four percent of millennials are going into their bank branch for information; 62 percent are going online. While 59 percent reported that they are "extremely" or "very" knowledgeable about their day-to-day banking products like checking accounts, they still want advice on personal finance topics, including savings, creating a budget, and credit cards.
Unify your product landscape – make it easy and clear
A dedicated strategy is needed when engaging Gen Y. As millennials are different from other customers, roughly one third of financial institutions have designed specific strategies to win them over. Millennials are desperate for a better banking experience; one with lower, more transparent fees, convenient access and emergency credit options. Use of social media for marketing and reaching out to their customers to launch new products, make announcements and drive new conversations with their customers is becoming common place as a way to get the attention of this generation.
Focus on customer service consistency
One of the cornerstones of the Gen Y engagement is a great banking experience. Enhancing the customer experience is the key to attracting millennial customers. As payment behavior changes, and traditional bank customers give way to a younger generation, the relationship between a customer and its bank will help secure that banks are relevant. If banks want to serve these customers profitably, they will need to leverage that relationship and find new ways of doing business with them.
Remember - today’s kids are tomorrow’s customers and members. As baby boomers retire, the millennials will move into their roles. With increases in job responsibility will come increased purchasing power. As this large group ages, they will begin hitting their big earning years and focus more on retirement and investing.