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




    BANK OPERATIONS UPDATE: Supporting Internal Customers

    Supporting multiple locations, whether branches or discrete banks, brings a variety of challenges. From an operations and technology perspective, however, the key is to provide a consistent customer
    experience across all locations. This means the ability of the teller, loan, and deposit platform systems to serve customers from any location. It further means that line speeds and server horsepower, two key components of the speed with which applications load and run on your employee’s computers, must be up to par across all locations. In addition to purchasing systems and data communications capacity that are properly sized, the walking around test is necessary. That is, get out into the remote locations and watch your employees as they use their systems . . are screens slow to load and change, making it hard for employees to serve customers in a timely fashion? If so, it’s time to begin addressing why, by looking at communications lines, network capabilities, and other components of adequate access times.

    Contingency Planning
    Contingency planning is a rare item these days: a regulatory requirement that is also a prudent business practice. You have to be sure, through analysis and testing, that you have plans and methods in place for business continuation. All contingency planning has a three pronged focus:
    1. Prevention – taking steps to greatly reduce the possibility of an occurrence. This is easier for things you control (installing redundant power supplies and hard drives in your network servers) than things you don’t control (weather).

    2. Minimization – planning and testing will contribute to a lessening of the impact of any occurrence

    3. Restoration – again, the planning and testing you’ve done will enhance your ability to respond and begin to restore operations.
    In the context of technology planning, be sure that contingency and DR are integrated into all of your efforts.

    Vendor Contracts
    I continue to do a lot of work in this area, as banks often have contracts with terms and conditions that they don’t fully understand, in part because they haven’t carefully read what they are signing. The contracts that you have in place now are important, because they dictate what you can and can’t do in terms of buying new products from third parties, or discontinuing the use of certain products, and they commit you to fees and penalties for changes and early termination that can be significant. Make sure you know exactly what you’ve committed to, especially with your larger contracts, such as core accounting and item processing, so that your decisions are in line with those contractual relationships. Finally, don’t forget that when new contracts are considered (whether for an add-on product, or a complete renewal or new relationship) that you must carefully review those, and consider the terms and conditions so that you improve your position relative to your older contracts.

    Debit Interchange – A Call for Common Sense

    Now that we have a ruling on debit interchange, I wanted to remind you that debit cards, used in place of checks, remain a significant advantage to the bank, apart from any interchange fees you receive.  The transaction itself (especially if we look at average dollar transactions) is less expensive to process, and the long term impact of storage and retrieval (essentially an 80 to 100 byte record vs 25 to 50 thousand bytes for checks) is greatly reduced. While your interchange fees will drop, as a result of the cap on interchange, imposing fees for debit card use constitutes an economic barrier to acceptance that sends the wrong message to your customers who have already embraced debit cards.  Due in part to costs, you may need to reduce or eliminate rewards programs associated with debit cards, but these are not the only driver of customer use of debit . . . convenience and purchase protection are equally important.  In terms of incentives, take time to re-evaluate simple utilization incentives, perhaps partnering with merchants, that will serve to build more volume for your debit card program.

    Long term, electronic transactions are the way to go, and you want to continue to foster that mentality.  Let’s not overreact and destroy the benefits we’ve built with debit cards. 

    Article on Mobile Banking from OK City Journal Record

    Reprinted, with permission, below, is a very nice article done in conjunction with my speech to the OBA’s Annual Convention and Leadership Conference in May.  Thanks to Brian for including me in his article.

    The Journal Record  
    Expert: Banking industry needs to keep up with mobile market
    by Brian Brus
    Published: May 23rd, 2011
    OKLAHOMA CITY – The consumer adoption of mobile banking is dependent on how quickly banks offer simple, secure access, Trent Fleming said.
    “When we look at the typical bank customer today who is perhaps using a telephone banking product or Internet banking, they are going to adopt a mobile banking capability as soon as you make it available to them,” said Fleming, a banking industry technology expert. “There is more demand than there has been supply at this point.
    “Community banks are somewhat lagging behind, and nothing from a technology or cost standpoint is keeping them from doing it,” he said. “It just hasn’t been high on their priority list, even though their customers are very interested.”
    Fleming will share advice on developing a mobile banking strategy at the Oklahoma Bankers Association’s Leadership Forum and Annual Convention continuing Tuesday at the Embassy Suites hotel in Norman.
    The event began with a golf tournament Monday. Tuesday’s features include a breakfast welcome by Frank Keating, former Oklahoma governor and current chief executive of the American Bankers Association, and several topic sessions similar to Fleming’s throughout the day. Topics include risk control, industry regulations and customer loyalty.
    Fleming is a professional consultant and speaker with nearly 30 years of experience in bank technology. The last major industry change he helped banks navigate was the adoption of check imaging systems and improving consumers’ comfort with that new component.
    He said that as multiuse cellphones and other personal data assistant devices have become more widespread, consumers and vendors have seemed to be in a race to find ways to leverage them. Mobile banking, for example, broadens options for handling deposits and multiple-party payment transactions without the need to find a full-size computer screen hooked up to the Internet. Many institutions have already implemented the technology to stay competitive, provide convenience and reach more tech-savvy customers.
    The market seems to have already reached a critical density of consumer use that means mobile technology isn’t much of an option anymore – it’s a necessity.
    “The adoption rates that we’re seeing are pretty dramatic,” Fleming said. “Even just a year or so ago, when one of the larger banks, TD Banknorth (in Maine), offered its iPhone app for mobile banking, they had about 100,000 downloads in the first couple of weeks. So it’s obvious there’s a lot of demand for it from the customer side.”
    According to statistics from CTIA, the international association for the wireless telecommunications industry, the ratio of cellphones to population in the United States was nearly one to one in 2010, or 95 percent, across all socioeconomic levels. That technology access also opens opportunities to provide services to segments of the population that have traditionally shied away from traditional banks, he said.
    But bankers also must be careful to recognize one application does not fit all – individual consumers have different needs and expectations than business customers, he said. So part of a bank executive’s challenge will be rolling out mobile services to market segments in a way that makes the most sense for the most users, via partners that can support those services most securely.
    “We’re finding that in mobile banking, in the next three to five years or sooner, will become a key part in business banking simply in acknowledging the nature of business owners today, who are constantly on the move,” Fleming said. “They need to be able to sign a check and approve a wire transfer on the go.”