A Trusted Advisor to Financial Institutions

Upcoming Speaking Engagements

  • September 2018
    • 18: American Bankers: CFO Exchange, Austin, Texas
  • October 2018
    • 22: Louisiana Bankers: Webinar, Winning the Battle of Data Analysis
    • 30: Minnesota Bankers Association: Director Training, Bloomington
  • November 2018
    • 28: Georgia Bankers Association: Webinar, De Novo Bank Accelerator
  • December 2018
    • 6: Missouri Bankers Association: Executive Management Conference, Kansas City



    Trent Fleming

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    2017 Banking Outlook

    Welcome to 2017! I trust that you and your family had a great holiday season. Getting back to business, I have some thoughts on evaluating your banking and enterprise strategy to begin the year. I hope you’ll enjoy this new, easier-to-read newsletter format. This is just one of a few In this issue, I offer 5 areas of focus for 2017 and beyond:

    Governance and Regulation Awareness
    Cyber Security Training
    Productivity Enhancements
    Virtual Banking
    Emerging Trends

    JANUARY 17 – ISSUE #1
    Trent Fleming

    Welcome to 2017! I trust that you and your family had a great holiday season. Getting back to business, I have some thoughts on evaluating your banking and enterprise strategy to begin the year. I hope you’ll enjoy this new, easier-to-read newsletter format. This is just one of a few In this issue, I offer 5 areas of focus for 2017 and beyond:
    Governance and Regulation Awareness
    Cyber Security Training
    Productivity Enhancements
    Virtual Banking
    Emerging Trends

    In the News
    Here are links to my most recent publications:

    Is Your Bank’s Board of Directors Prepared for the Future?
    The role and composition of a financial institution’s board of directors must reflect the changes sweeping across the banking industry.

    Trent’s Comments: In Defense of Legacy Core Systems
    As the on-line complement to my very popular “Trent’s Comments” newsletter, this blog will serve as a way to access the entire newsletter, as well as timely matters of interest in between newsletter offerings.

    And here I am, quoted in Euro Money Magazine about the Wells Fargo Investment Bank:

    Wells Fargo’s investment bank takes a hit /Euromoney magazine
    Clinging on to modest IB ranking; municipalities show their clout over ethics scandals.

    Corporate Governance and Regulation Awareness
    Increasingly, we find that the regulators are expecting broad attention to overall management of your organization. Directors and executives are expected to be aware of, understand, and provide direct oversight of key issues involving the organization, no matter how technical or esoteric. This ranges from Cybersecurity (more on that later) to new investment vehicles. Effective corporate governance demands a more educated and involved board. Tip: plan for ongoing director education and training on all areas of the organization. Leverage resources from your state and national trade associations, your vendors, and your advisors: attorneys, CPAs, and yes, even consultants.

    Cyber Security Training
    Heard enough about this yet? Here’s the reality: CyberSecurity is a critical business issue that is here to stay. Going forward, every decision you make will involve some element of managing IT security and risk. Innumerable hackers worldwide are spending their days and nights seeking vulnerabilities to exploit, across all types of organizations. You are not immune, even in rural community banks. Tip: training and awareness remain a key first line of defense. In particular, you will find that employees – rather than customers may be your weakest link. In evaluating cybersecurity incidents, we find too often that an employee facilitated the attack by letting their guard down and clicking on what should have been a suspicious email. So training starts with employees, and extends to customers. Second, be sure that your discussion of new and renewed vendor relationships (of all types) includes addressing cybersecurity issues.

    Productivity Enhancements
    All of us are keenly aware that we are not getting the levels of productivity we expected when the automation age began. Recently, commenters including Randall Forsyth (Barron’s) have lamented the lack of productivity in American industry. In my experience, this stems largely from an underutilization of resources, which in turn stems from a lack of training. Tip: two simple steps to better productivity. First, manage your people well. Ensure that the fundamental steps for better HR practices are in place: clear communication of expectations, proper training for the tasks at hand, and quick feedback, both positive and negative, for on the job performance. Train your managers to manage. Second, address utilization of your key systems. Work with your software vendors to understand the tools available to help your people use the software you’ve invested in.

    Virtual Banking
    It is past time to prepare for this. My definition of virtual bank is the sum of all customer activity outside of your traditional branch network. I suspect that if you took a look at the transaction levels, you would find that this “virtual activity” (mobile, phone, Internet, ATM/Debit) has already exceeded branch transactions. Since this now represents a significant part of your customer activity, it is time to address and actively manage it. This includes developing or further building out a call center capability, developing support for remote delivery channels, and preparing for the next generation of branch delivery (ITM, video teller, self-service)
    Tip: identify the current volumes of activity by transaction type, and establish a “virtual branch manager” position within the bank to begin overseeing this. Provide key guidance about expectations and goals for the virtual branch, as well as bank-wide education to help employees understand the mission.

    Emerging Trends
    Ok, not really trends, but a trend. You will increasingly see reference to Artificial Intelligence as it relates to business matters. Do not dismiss this. The selective use of artificial intelligence can dramatically improve many of your processes, from reporting, to loan applications, to personnel management. Look for opportunities to leverage AI offerings from your vendor to improve how you do business. Tip: better management information from your data is available by allowing advanced reporting systems (which will increasingly use AI) to provide you with insights you will otherwise miss. Remember that by processing customer transaction activity, you have access to better information about that individual or business than any one else can easily have. Leverage that information to better serve and cross-sell to your customers.

    Vacations and Succession Planning

    Inevitably, the topic of succession planning arises during strategic planning sessions with my clients. Often, the discussion is focused on executive management and the board.  I submit to you, however, that you should address succession planning across all levels of management, in all departments.
    In a typical organization, there exist what I call “concentrations of knowledge.”    Generally, only a handful of individuals hold a complete understanding of processes, practices, and procedures.  Overcoming the absence of these individuals is generally a collaborative effort of those who have partial knowledge, along with the occasional “emergency” phone call, text, or Facebook message to that person who is on vacation, home sick, or out of the office for a meeting.  The better way to address these concentrations of knowledge is an intentional program of cross-training, succession planning, and overall training and education designed to increase knowledge and understanding of all employees.
    This is my annual reminder to you that vacation season is a great time to assess the extent to which you are impacted by these concentrations of knowledge.   Evaluate the efforts of your staff when managers or other key employees are on vacation.  Do errors increase? Are there compatibility issues that come to the fore? Is the staff reaching out to absent employees for help during the day or in the evening?.  One key to a high performing organization is a level of cross training that anticipates and overcomes the temporary and permanent loss of a key employee. 
    Here are three things you can do to reduce the potential impact of concentrations of knowledge, and prepare for both short and long term absences.  First, insist that departmental policies and procedures are well documented, properly audited (practices versus written procedures) and that employees are trained well.  Second, insist that employees within a given department are cross trained on other tasks and duties, and that actual rotation of duties occurs throughout the year.  Finally, strictly enforce vacation absences, including communications via any method.  This not only pays dividends from improving your bench strength, it ensures that the internal control benefit of required absences is fully realized.

    I’m eager to hear what you learn from your efforts and observations.  As always, I stand ready to assist you in these or other areas. 
    Trent Fleming advises executives on strategy, management, and technology issues.  Reach him at trent@trentfleming.com or on Twitter @techadvisor

    Ready to Give up on Free Checking? Not so fast . . .

    I’m hearing a lot about the demise of free checking in the bank and credit union environment.  Rising costs are cited, among other issues, but I think that consideration has to be given to the profile of customers who have free checking accounts.  If you are doing even rudimentary profitability analysis, you should be able to assess the impact of free checking on customer profitability.  A properly configured account will serve to modify consumer behavior in ways that reduce the costs of servicing the account.  This can be done without fees directed to the consumer.  Increased debit card use, email statements instead of paper, mobile or Internet access (instead of phone calls and voice response systems,) and automatic deposit of payroll or other credits are commonly thought of as components of a successful free checking account. 
    One source I saw recently indicated that rising transaction volumes were a reason for FI’s to eliminate free checking. While per account volumes are rising, the increase is almost entirely attributable to electronic transactions, and these are not increasing your costs.  Debit card activity is eclipsing check writing, and virtually all debit card transactions are not only cheaper than checks, they often generate interchange revenue.  You want customers to use their debit cards, and a properly promoted free checking account will encourage such use.
    If consumer accounts are important to your institution, free checking remains a great way to attract and leverage such relationships.  As always, understanding your costs and revenue opportunities is the basis for configuring and pricing accounts.   I’m available if you want to review and discuss these or other matters.
    Trent Fleming serves as a trusted adviser to financial institutions on matters of technology, strategy, and management, and as an industry speaker. In his advisory role, he has helped hundreds of banks make good decisions about technology from a business perspective. Fleming’s presentations on technology, management, and strategy consistently get the highest marks from his audiences. He serves on the faculty of the Graduate School of Banking at the University of Wisconsin, and regularly contributes articles to industry publications. More information at www.trentfleming.com , trent@trentfleming.com, or @techadvisor on Twitter. 

    Essential Speaking Topics from Trent Fleming

    As you work to complete your conference planning for this year, I hope that you will consider the attached presentations as options for your groups.  I’ve included topics directed to CEO/Director audiences, as well as operations/technology, and marketing.  It would be my pleasure to work with you on any of these topics.
    I’m grateful to the many of you who have already booked me for this year, and hope to add many more engagements to my 2016 calendar.

    CEO and Director Focus
    Four Ways CEOs Can Better Manage Technology
    Technology has found its way into every aspect of your institution.
    It’s no longer a “back office” only solution.  The successful CEO will embrace technology, and seek to actively manage it.  This session is designed to show you how: drawing on four key pillars: People, Strategy, Business Focus, and Security.  Participants will leave with a better understanding of how technology can be integrated into the organization, and managed as well as any other business unit.

    Director Liability in a Connected World
    Increasingly, bank customers, both business and consumer, are choosing electronic delivery channels over traditional branch banking. To support these demands, banks are investing in sophisticated delivery systems to provide real–time access for customers. In addition, banks are finding it increasingly important to manage their Internet and social media presence, as well as their Internet reputation across other platforms. Payment methods ranging from wire transfer to ACH to debit cards create the potential for significant fraud loss and also must be managed to mitigate risk. For business, corporate account takeover is a major threat. On the consumer side, card data breaches and identity theft loom large as sources of loss for banks. Finally, the increasing reliance on outsourced data–processing solutions means that banks are signing contracts that represent significant liability and exposure for early termination clauses, annual price increases, and de-conversion costs. This session will guide Directors and Executive Management in understanding the risk and exposure presented by today’s online environment and will also provide guidance to them as they seek to offer advice and oversight to bank management in addressing and managing such risks. 
    The New Face of Strategic Planning:
    Integrating Technology Into Your Enterprise Strategy
    Historically, banks have had two strategic plans: an enterprise, or business plan, and a separate technology plan.  This is no longer tenable, as technology now becomes the driving force behind most strategic initiatives.  This session discusses methods of integrating technology planning into your enterprise planning efforts, providing insight to senior managers and executives as to the increasingly visible and important role technology plays in the banking environment.  Topics include selected new technologies, negotiating and managing vendor relationships, merger and acquisition planning, managing operations and technology staff, and engaging with customers to maintain strong relationships via electronic channels. (this session can be tailored for CEO/Director audiences, or Senior Operations staff.  I can also provide this as a Director Education or Planning Session, privately for individual banks)
    Rural Economic Revitalization
    Drawing on my volunteer work with various university-level economic development efforts, I have developed presentations to address how small towns can initiate efforts to revitalize their local economies.  One component of my work is a targeted presentation called “Small Towns and Small Banks” that is focused on CEOs of community banks and talks specifically as to how these banks can be catalysts for change that results in stronger communities
    General Topics

    Preparing Your Bank for the Next Decade
    While the day to day pressures of managing balance sheets and regulatory requirements seem overwhelming, smart banks sense that the weight of competitive pressures make it even more important to develop and execute on strategies that will ensure their banks’ success going forward. this session will look at emerging trends in banking products and services, and provide keen insight into developing the infrastructure, tools, and staff needed to deliver them successfully. 
    Managing Your Core Vendor Relationships
    Your contract for services with your primary banking software provider defines a very important third party relationship with your bank.  Issues of exposure, liability, service levels, and yes, cost, are all in play.  Many banks have signed contracts with dozens of pages, without a careful review.  In some instances, the bank’s attorney has been asked to review and comment on the contract, but absent specific software expertise, such a review may be cursory at best.  This session is not a legal review, but an operational one, of the implications of committing to selected aspects of the contract.  Participants will leave with insight into how to evaluate contract terms, and what areas to ask the bank’s attorney to look into in further detail. These skills can then be extended to other third party contracts, further enhancing the benefits.   Today’s focus on reducing expenses, and controlling costs, makes this session especially timely. Ideal for Operations audiences and CFO Conferences.
    Alternate Branching Strategies: Leveraging Technology to Efficiently Serve Existing and New Markets
    While community banks offer a wide range of electronic delivery channels, branch footprint remains a key component of service delivery.  This session will look at smarter ways to branch, including limiting physical plant investment, and utilizing a wide range of technologies to provide outstanding service across all of your markets. 

    Developing Your Bank’s Call Center
    Today, even small banks need a plan for centralizing customer contact and support.  As delivery channel options increase, customer demands for timely, knowledgeable support will increase.  A call center is the key, allowing you to offer a seamless, consistent experience when customers choose to call, email, tweet, or FB for help.  To augment this policy, banks must move to a “universal associate” model, whereby each employee with customer service responsibility is cross trained on all products and services.  This allows quick, accurate responses, and raises customer satisfaction, which in turn increases customer loyalty, along with the adoption of new technologies.  This session will guide participants in mapping out a plan to move to a call center model from wherever they are now.

    Developing Your Bank’s Mobile Strategy
    Mobile Banking has quickly become an expected service offering for bank customers.  Consumer’s desire to do more on the mobile device, combined with extensive advertising at a national level, have driven awareness and rapid adoption. In addition, our society is rapidly moving into a “Post PC” stage, where the mobile device (tablets and larger smart phones) will become the primary end user device.  In spite of this, there are banks who are yet to invest in this technology.  Many who have deployed Mobile Banking have done little beyond offering the basic product.  What is needed?  A strategy.  One that encompasses five pillars: technology, operations, compliance, promotion, and innovation.  This session will provide banks with the information and techniques necessary to select, implement, promote, and manage a broad Mobile Banking delivery channel, both now and in the future. 

    Social Media’s Place in Your Marketing Strategy
    Often, social media channels like Facebook, blogging, and Twitter are talked about as if they exist in a vacuum.  This session is designed to provide overall guidance for marketing, public relations, and advertising for financial institutions, including traditional and  social media channels.  The session is offered with two options: a focus on tactical issues, including implementation, security, compliance, and management, or a CEO focused presentation to provide background, risk management advice, and guidance to management as they seek to oversee the bank’s marketing, public relations, and advertising efforts.
    Attracting and Retaining Profitable Small Business Customers: 
    Packaging and Promoting Your Bank’s Services
    For many years, I’ve spoken to banks about the real battle in financial services – the fight for the profitable small business account.  This session looks at recent trends, including “free” business checking, and commercial cash management technology, and provides insight into ensuring that your bank has a plan to attract and retain business accounts.  Often, community bankers find that they have all the tools needed to compete on feature/function with the regional and national players.  What is lacking is packaging, promotion, and sales training.  Participants will leave with ideas that will allow them to address an overall strategy for the commercial marketplace.
    Please contact me today to schedule one or more of these presentations for your group!



    Thoughts on Fee Income: Merchant Processing Services

    Virtually every bank I speak to feels the pressure to increase earnings.  In advising banks on such matters, I try to focus on items that are relatively easy to implement, and will generate a stream of earnings with minimal ongoing effort.  Merchant Processing Services fall into this category.  It’s this simple, really: every one of your business customers that accept debit and credit cards (and digital wallet payments) need this service.  Too many banks have the attitude of “we can provide that if they need us to” instead of very intentionally trying to be the primary provider of such services.
    It is exactly this type of thinking that prevents you from collecting all the fee income you should.  Begin now to assess your current program in terms of pricing, functionality, and marketing support.  If it is not what you need to be competitive, look at renegotiating with your current vendor, or evaluate alternate vendors.  Get a program in place that you can be proud to offer.  Then, incorporate this service into all your sales training, calling officer preparation, and marketing materials.  Leverage the relationships you have to sell more Merchant Services to your existing customers, and make the product you offer a selling point for prospective customers as well.
    Properly executed, this plan will generate fee income in two ways: signing bonuses for new accounts, and per transaction fees monthly.  A third benefit is a stronger, more exclusive relationship with your business customer.  These benefits alone should make you invest the time to focus in deploying a Merchant Processing Services program.

    Comments on Fiserv Acquisition of ACI

    A number of you have asked me about implications of the ACI acquisition by Fiserv.  Here are some thoughts.

    By now you have seen news of the acquisition by Fiserv of ACI’s Internet Banking solutions group.  I want to address this at a macro and a micro level.  First, let’s take on the macro side.  The banking software industry has mirrored the banking industry itself, by consolidating.  We now have an oligopoly in banking software – three firms control a majority of the market.  In such an environment, further consolidation is almost inevitable, as the big players seek to drive more revenue from ancillary products.  You will see more of these types of acquisitions, as it becomes harder for third party, best of breed solutions to sell product into banks directly.
    At the micro level, this is a win for Fiserv.  It gives them an integrated product that works across all platforms, and includes both business and personal Internet banking capabilities.  As mobile becomes increasingly important – to both consumers and businesses – demand for enhanced capabilities will increase.  Fiserv’s current setup features distinct products for consumer and commercial, creating an unnecessarily complex delivery channel.  If you are an ACI customer using a Fiserv core today, you may find that your product becomes the main Fiserv offering, rather than being replaced.  When you consider that Fiserv acquired fewer than 600 customers, many of who are Credit Unions, you will see that this was more than just an effort to buy customer base.  The product is important, and that’s good news for ACI customers.

    Strategies for Success

    As we move into the new year, I wanted to offer you some ideas for improving your bank that don’t necessarily require new investment in hardware or software.  I trust you will find some of them applicable. 
    It’s hard to read any of the banking trade publications these days without seeing this word. It is in my top 5 overused words for 2015.  For most community banks, innovation can be a challenging word.  You won’t typically develop your own mobile applications, or write software to improve loan operations.  Let me interpret innovation differently then: think of it as improving the way you already use your information technology, like parsing data for a marketing campaign, or creating a new checking account product that appeals to a section of your current (or desired) customer base.  For example, use your report writing capabilities to parse your customers’ payment habits, and learn where they shop most often in your community.  If the businesses you identify aren’t currently customers of your bank, perhaps there is an opportunity to engage them regarding the value of doing business with you.  Again, looking at payment habits, can you identify a group of customers who almost exclusively use their debit card rather than writing checks?  If so, they may be candidates for a streamlined checking account that better reflects their payment habits, and lifestyle.  
    Finally, when thinking about innovation, be sure that you are pushing your software vendors for new products and services in a timely fashion, and for operating parameters (later cut off times for remote deposit or longer operating hours for your non-traditional branches) that allow you to compete effectively in your markets.  Allowing vendors to dictate your operating hours is not an ideal situation. 
    Fee Income Opportunities 
    One failing in our industry has been our consistent approach of giving away virtually everything, to the point that our customers have come to expect it.  As I told one banker a few years ago, “you already have free business checking . . . you just call it ‘we don’t charge for that’”  There are two areas to consider here.  First, improved collection of fees you are already due . . . NSF, OD, loan late charges, research charges.  There’s no reason not to impose such fees unless the bank is at fault for the problem.  Typically you are not.  For fees that are already published, start with your employees.  Help them to understand why we need to collect these fees, and give them training on how to approach customers.  In my experience, employees are often reluctant to impose such fees because of customer reaction.  These employees need guidance, and to be reminded that fee income is part of the bank’s revenue, driving salaries and helping offset overhead costs.  New services present a tremendous opportunity for educating customers that they should expect to pay for value when it is delivered.  “app stores” from Apple and Google have taught consumers to expect to pay in small increments for products that they want.  Leverage this mindset, and impose such fees when you begin to offer new products, including mobile capture, person to person payments, or other enhancements to your electronic delivery channels.  
    Like many of you, I’ve been doing this banking thing for a while.  I’m in my fourth decade.  I always try to look for common concerns and considerations.  One of those remains staffing issues.  I know that I’ve written about this fairly recently, but I believe it is valuable to talk about it again.    Many community banks are overstaffed. (the numbers back me up – banks under 1 billion in assets tend to have 2 times the employees per million in assets that banks over 1 billion have)  At best, they aren’t staffed with the right people.  
    A good bit of this issue is a result of poor HR practices that contribute to a tolerance of mediocre performance.  While I am not an HR expert, I know this for sure: it is impossible to fairly evaluate an employee’s performance if you have not established clear expectations for them.   
    Most managers dread annual performance reviews.  As a result, such reviews are often late, done poorly, and contribute to an employee morale issue.  But if the manager builds a good job description, clearly communicates it to each employee, and uses that document as a means of continually evaluating employee performance, the task becomes easier.  Coaching events – positive and negative – are dealt with in a timely fashion, properly documented, and when annual review times comes around, both the manager and the employee will have a good idea of what to expect.  A much better situation than a hastily done performance review that leaves both parties with a bad taste in their mouth. 
    Improving your managers engagement with their employees as it relates to performance reviews is a key first step in better management.  I believe just implementing these basic steps will go a long way toward improving both employee productivity and morale.  
    As always, I stand ready to assist you with these or other matters.  Please reach out to me anytime. 
    Upcoming and Recent Speaking Engagements
    19-20: Kentucky Bankers Association Payments Symposium, Louisville
    21: Private Event: Industry Update
    8: Ohio Bankers League: Technology Conference, Columbus
    18: Graduate School of Banking: IT Management School, UW-Madison, 
    3: Ohio Bankers League: CEO Conference, Columbus
    4: Southern Financial Exchange: Annual Conference, Memphis
    11 Maine Bankers Association: Directors Forum Augusta
    22 Florida Bankers Association: CyberSecurity Conference, Orlando
    Trent’s Comments is published six times each year and provides insight into strategic topics facing financial institution executives. Please feel free to share this with your staff and colleagues. 
    Should you not wish to receive this newsletter, simply send me an email and I will remove you. 

    Four Ways Executives Can Take Control of Technology

    For many executives, technology is an increasingly complex and frustrating part of running a business.  Two things are certain, though: 
    > Customers increasingly desire to interact via electronic channels
    > There are significant impacts on your productivity and profitability if technology is properly managed.  
    Here are some thoughts to help non-technical executives manage technology well.
    First, manage your people well.  Clear job descriptions and regular performance reviews are the key to setting expectations and monitoring performance.  Remember: it is impossible to fairly evaluate someone’s performance if you haven’t clearly set out your expectations.  While “tekkies” are a bit different to manage, starting with the fundamentals will build a great foundation.  All staff must clearly understand the business you are in, and what is needed from technology in order to achieve your goals.  Solid HR fundamentals will help you communicate that.
    Second, incorporate technology into your enterprise strategic plan.  For many CEOs, strategic planning for technology is an afterthought or a dreaded task.  Moving discussions of technology into your enterprise strategic planning will help you to leverage technology, by embracing its value and clearly defining how technology will support your business lines, both customer facing and internal.  Transparency about the strategic goals of your organization will help your technology managers to support those goals.
    Third, demand a business focus from your staff.  Work to help them understand that technology without a clearly defined business purpose is of little value.  A simple business case document can be a great teaching tool to help your staff communicate the benefits of technology they propose to invest in.  Tying these efforts back to the clearly communicated strategic plan will pay great benefits in terms of having your team focused on the things that are important to you.  Keep it simple.  Insist that your IT staff communicate in plain language.  Challenge them to explain the workings and impacts of their systems in practical terms, rather than relying on buzzwords.
    Finally, keep it safe.  Insist on a security and business continuity focus.  Efforts by criminals to gain access to your company’s data (and that of your customers) are never-ending.  Your security efforts must keep pace.  Place an emphasis on contingency planning and disaster recovery.  Your ability to preserve and/or recover internal operations and customer facing systems is critical to the success of your business.  Insist on written and tested plans that address the three main components of such planning:  prevention, impact minimization, and expedited recovery.  Businesses that suffer technology outages of three days or more are at risk of failure.  It is that important.
    Instead of shirking from technology, embrace it, and seek to actively manage it for the benefit of your employees, customers, and stakeholders.
    Trent Fleming advises executives on management and strategy issues.  He can be reached at trent@trentfleming.com or on Twitter @techadvisor

    Fall 2015 Banking Newsletter: Planning for the Future of Your Bank

    Building Your Next Customer Base

    What are you doing to develop your next customer base?

    Recently, I saw a statistic that for the first time in our 239-year history, more Americans live in cities of 100,000 and over than do not. This trend, a long time in the making, caused me to begin thinking about the impact on community banks, especially those in rural areas. My question to you is: what are you doing to develop your next customer base?
    Complacently serving your current customers, without regard to what the next 5, or 10 years might bring, is a formula for disaster. 
    Here are three things that you can do today to proactively build your next customer base:
                First, take steps to understand the demographic changes in your communities – city, county, region – so that you have data. It’s difficult to see change when you are in the middle of it, so step back and assess. Years ago, Al Stewart sang, “In the islands where I grew up, nothing seems the same, still you never see the change from day to day.1” Think about your current customers and evaluate the “age” of your deposits in terms of the age of deposit holders. Start early to convince the next generation that you can be their bank, as well as “mom and dad’s” bank.
    Next, take steps to ensure the viability of your community.  In recent years, I have written and spoken extensively on Generational Transfer and its impact on community banks and the communities they serve.  Read more at www.arkansawriverwriter.blogspot.com.  
    Civic and business leaders can influence the viability of a community. Supporting and encouraging local businesses, seeking to attract new business, tourism, and educational opportunities are all ways that you can seek to maintain and improve the health of your communities. If your mayor and alderman are more focused on beautification than economic development, seek to change that by striking a balance with commerce. I’m all in favor of beauty, but it takes commerce to make a community thrive.

    These are just a few thoughts for you on this important issue. As always, I stand ready to advise you in these and other matters. Please call on me anytime.

    Finally, for your bank, seek to enter new markets with similarities to those that you already successfully serve, and look for new products and services that can enhance your presence in all markets.  Wealth Management, for example, is often overlooked, but can be a powerful way to strengthen and enhance existing customer relationships, forge new ones, and preserve them over time.

     (1) Al Stewart, On the Border from the 1976 album Year of the Cat
    Upcoming and Recent Speaking Engagements
    October 16
    Missouri Bankers Association:
    Young Bankers Leadership Conference, St. Louis
    October 21
    Nebraska Bankers Association:
    Marketing Conference, Lincoln
    October 29
    West Virginia Bankers Association:
    Operations and CyberSecurity Conference, Charleston 
    My speaking schedule for 2016 is filling up –
    Updates and booking at trentfleming.com

    Trent Fleming is an industry expert on banking strategy. He travels around the country, conducting seminars on a variety of strategic, management, and technology topics. He also serves numerous financial institutions as a trusted adviser in managing today’s regulatory and technology environment.
    As a consultant, he has worked with hundreds of financial institutions to create strategic plans that are blueprints for success, manage the selection and implementation of new technologies, and provide insight to streamline operations and improve productivity. operations and reduce costs.


    Trents Comments is published six times each year and provides insight into strategic topics facing financial institution executives.
    Please feel free to share this with your staff and colleagues.
    Should you not wish to receive this newsletter, simply send me an email and I will remove you.


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