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Auto re-fi loans can lead to additional revenue down the road.

I’m one of the lucky few who, at the moment, doesn’t have a car payment.  And when I say “few,” I really mean it. Just how many auto loans are out there these days? A lot… 113 million, by recent estimates. To give you an idea of the dollars involved, at the end of the fourth quarter of 2019, TransUnion estimated that Americans were carrying a total of $1.3 trillion in auto loan debt with the average auto borrower carrying a balance of roughly $18,500.

If I were making monthly payments on a car loan that was somewhere between 2 and 5 years old, I’d probably be looking to take advantage of historically low interest rates and refinance that loan right now. If I were a banker, and I was looking to bring new customers to my bank or new members to my credit union, I would probably be looking to use auto refinancing as a way to do that.

Unfortunately, now is the perfect time to market auto loan refinancing.  I say unfortunately because there is good news and bad news; together, they are making this a good time to refinance an auto loan. On the one hand – as you can see from the chart below, courtesy of Statista – there’s good news; rates are ideal for an auto loan re-fi right now. 

On the other hand, there’s bad news; Americans continue to face uncertain times due to COVID-19.  The pandemic has not abated and, as a result, the economy continues to take baby steps toward recovery, with tens of millions of Americans trying to find some kind of economic relief.  Saving just $100 each month by reducing their car payment would provide some of that relief.

While no one seems certain about the future of rates, one thing we know that we can all bank on; if you borrowed money a year or so ago to buy a car, you’re very likely paying more than you could be. Which brings me to why financial institutions should be marketing their low-interest auto loans to those who borrowed within the last two to five years. First, as you well know, it’s not easy to get someone to leave their financial institution and take their business elsewhere. Attracting new customers to your institution is hard work, and it can be costly. According to Bain & Company researchacquiring a new customer can cost five times more than retaining an existing customer. ”In financial services, for example,” the study says, “a 5% increase in customer retention produces more than a 25% increase in profit. Why? Return customers tend to buy more from a company over time. As they do, your operating costs to serve them decline. The success rate of selling to an existing customer is 60-70%, while the success rate of selling to a new customer is 5-20%.”

In order to make is easy for banks and credit unions to get their auto loan refinancing message out there, we’ve created a campaign of ads, both print and digital that can be customized quickly and easily.

Now’s the time to attract new customers and members.  Borrowers are turning to online lenders such as Lending Tree and Credit Karma for the ease and convenience they offer.  But you can offer them something more; not only competitive rates, but the personalized service that can, potentially, help you attract customers and members for life.

About Bank Marketing Center

Here at BankMarketingCenter.comour goal is to help you with that vital, topical, and compelling communication with customers; messaging that will help you build trust, relationships, and with them, your brand. To view our marketing creative, both print and digital – ranging from product and brand ads to in-branch brochures and signage –  visit bankmarketingcenter.com.  Or you can contact me directly by phone at 678-528-6688 or email at nreynolds@bankmarketingcenter.com.  As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject.

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Why use a credit card when your PAL will Pay?

Credit cards are important to banks, right?  Important enough, it appears, that some banks will – at least allegedly – risk bending some of the rules. As the American Banker pointed out this past August in an article on the topic, “one particular firm that drew the regulators’ attention,” says the article, “was Bank of America. Between 2016 and 2018, Bank of America was among nearly 50 large and midsize banks that underwent a special regulatory exam, which focused on sales practices, by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.”  The bank was also singled out for close review by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which launched an investigation into whether the bank had opened credit card accounts without customers’ authorization, as Wells Fargo had done back in 2016.  So, yes, credit cards are important to a bank’s bottom line. Bending the rules, however, is not an option. How, then, can banks hold onto this extremely valuable revenue stream?

The Financial Brand alluded to the battle for credit card users and “payments disruption” in their recent blog entitled, 7 Major Trends that will Shake Up Banking in the Year Ahead. The FB cites an Accenture study that “points to credit cards as the payments segment with the highest susceptibility to disruption. The primary cause: Point-of-sale lending, also known as buy now pay later (BNPL). These solutions, pioneered by fin-techs such as Affirm, Klarna and Afterpay, enable consumers to select a credit card or installment plan either at the time of purchase or after their purchase, and typically charge only a flat fee. Research by The Ascent, a personal finance service, describes how and why Americans are taking advantage of BNPL. “Over a third (37%) of U.S. consumers between 18 and 54 have used a BNPL service,” states the report. The reasons for the switch are simple: 39% say to avoid paying credit card interest while 38% use it to make purchases that fall outside of their normal budget. The most popular BNPL at the moment? Bill Me Later/PayPal Credit.

Then there’s the digital wallet options: PayPal Wallet, Apple Pay, and Google Pay, to name a few. These companies offer their own versions of ways to pay, some of which, like banks, even offer their own cash-back cards with rewards. The Apple Card, for example, is one. The card offers daily cash back and is accessed through a convenient-to-use app. A survey by Deloitte shows that the share of shoppers making a purchase on mobile phones has doubled in the past five years. In addition, according to the survey, this year will mark the first time that more than half of those surveyed plan to use their smartphone, in some capacity, for holiday shopping online.

In order to keep their share of wallet, credit card issuers seem to be continuing to merchandise their cards with low promotional rates and rewards. Deloitte’s U.S. Payments Leader Zach Aron says “the stakes are high for banks when it comes to credit cards. It’s one of the relative bright spots for banks in payments and the top payments revenue driver, with a compound annual growth rate of between 8% and 9%.” Mobile, he says, is “far and away” how people want to pay going forward, which puts pressure on banks to become the top credit card or payment method in a person’s actual mobile wallet.  How do banks become that top digital wallet payment and can credit cards continue to be one of their “relative bright spots?”  We’ll see.

About Bank Marketing Center

Here at BankMarketingCenter.com, our goal is to help you with that vital, topical, and compelling communication with customers; messaging that will help you build trust, relationships, and with them, your brand.

To view our marketing creative, both print and digital – ranging from product and brand ads to in-branch brochures and signage – visit bankmarketingcenter.com.  Or, you can contact me directly by phone at 678-528-6688 or email at nreynolds@bankmarketingcenter.com.  As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject.

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Are you simply serving up Spam?

We all know email marketing, right?  Of course; our inboxes are inundated with emails on a daily basis. Campaignmonitor.com says that “the number of email users is expected to reach 4.5 billion by 2022. Experts generally agree that 121 business emails are sent and received each day.” That’s a fair number of emails, and I’m guessing, far fewer than most of us are receiving and sending each day. For most businesses, email marketing is a critical piece of their overall marketing strategy.  And, despite the downside we just mentioned – the sheer number of emails we get each day – email marketing can still be a very effective tool.

So, how is your email marketing performing?  Could it be more effective?  Chances are, you’re already using one of the many email service providers out there, such as HubSpot, MailChimp, or Constant Contact.  Hopefully, you’re continually updating your lists and building your messaging based on the recipient’s stage in the buyer journey. And, hopefully, you’re continually testing your emails to make sure that you’re sending the right message to the right person at the right time.

You’re not testing, you say?  That’s a shame because, with the right data, you can understand how, when, where and why your customers did, or didn’t, take the desired action upon receiving your email. And then, you can act upon it.

How does testing work?

Split testing or A/B testing as it’s sometimes called, is a method of testing where the various components that make up your email, such as the copy, images, call-to-action buttons, design, etc., are altered to form a variation of the original or “treatment”. That treatment is then compared with the original or “control” and their performance compared in terms of metrics such as opens and click-through rates. An A/B test, which is actually a lot easier to do than it may sound here, is a great way to learn how to:

  • improve the amount of traffic driven to your website,
  • generate webinar registrations,
  • incentivize recipients to download educational materials such as video and e-books in exchange for contact info, and more.  

What are the “variables” that you can and should test?

Start with your format, your design. There are hundreds of templates out there, each tailored for a specific purpose.  A few examples. The “dedicated send” layout, for is a good choice for an email that is designed to communicate a short news item, such as the introduction of a new product or an offer.  Short copy followed by a call-to-action to “learn more.”  Newsletter layouts are best for, you guessed it, newsletters. Personal or “friendly” letter formats can work well in those instances where your message is more brand focused than product focused.  And so on. The short of it is this: Pick a format that aligns with your objective.

Another variable worth testing is your layout, which is defined by the elements you’re including as well as their placement or “hierarchy.”  Try short copy versus long.  Try a call-to-action button in the middle of your copy and then at the end. Try different colors, fonts, type sizes.

Timing is worth testing, too. As you might imagine, Monday mornings and Friday afternoons are not good sending times.  Generally, at least according to “the experts”, Tuesdays and Wednesdays are best.  However, with time testing, you can be sure!  It’s important to know when your recipient will be open to seeing your message. Otherwise, there is no point in sending it, is there?

Subject lines. Subject lines are the email equivalent of that initial handshake, the part that sets the stage for the conversation. With an inbox full of emails, a subject line must grab your recipients’ attention immediately, then convince them that it is worth opening and reading. You really want to get the subject line right or you’ll never get a decent open rate.

Now, for the test.

While conducting your test is fairly straightforward, there are a few simple guidelines to keep in mind:

As we talked about, now that it’s test time, you should have two versions of your email; your control and your treatment. Remember, you can only change one variable per test. Only then can you be certain that the element you changed is driving the changed response.

Last but not least, your audience. In order to achieve conclusive results, you need to test with two or more audiences that are equal. In order to conduct a “fair” test, both of your email variations must have as similar a group of recipients as possible. Divide your list in two so that you can be sure that the individuals are similar demographically and psychographically. If you don’t, your test results will not be conclusive.  Last but not least, hit “send” and see how your audience responds to each.

It’s time to fine tune.

Granted, there’s a great deal of science in developing and executing an effective email marketing campaign and testing merely scratches the surface. Hopefully, though, if you’re already utilizing emails, and most of you probably are, this can at least help you fine tune your efforts.

About Bank Marketing Center.

Here at BankMarketingCenter.com, our goal is to help you with that vital, topical, and compelling communication with customers; messaging that will help you build trust, relationships, and with them, your brand.

To view our marketing creative, both print and digital – ranging from product and brand ads to in-branch brochures and signage – visit bankmarketingcenter.com.  Or, you can contact me directly by phone at 678-528-6688 or email at nreynolds@bankmarketingcenter.com.  As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject.

 

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Let’s not take Community out of Community Banks.

The CEO of Chime, the U.S. technology neobank company that provides fee-free financial services through a mobile app, just a week or so ago had this to say about traditional banks in an article on cnbc.com: “COVID-19 and the pandemic have just accelerated the trend that was already in motion. There’s an increasing willingness to provide and manage your finances through a mobile app. Particularly for the younger generation, the notion of going in to fill out forms, to get basic financial services is really becoming a relic of the past.”

Which begs the question, if you’re a community bank, what will your community look like in the not-too-distant future?

 By that I mean, is the online community all that’s left for banks? Individuals who seem willing to trade personal data for convenience? Those who would prefer to never consult with a human being, an expert, when it comes to managing one of the most important and difficult areas of their lives? Their finances?

Personally, I believe there is still a place for that “off-line” community… the one surrounding your branch locations, the one that consists of individuals and local businesses who are connected with each other and value that connection.

But, hey, what do I know?  Seems like every time you open a news page in your browser there’s some article about digital transformation, monetizing data, turning branch banks into internet cafes… is that really where we’re headed?  And, should we?

Granted, I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Britt, Chine CEO, that “the pandemic has just accelerated the trend that was already in motion.”  This finextra article from just the other day included this proclamation from Paul Walker, GM of Q2 BaaS. “Now any bank can have its own Marcus or Chime in a matter of a few weeks.”  Wow, the race to trade one community for the other is really is running full steam ahead.

Further proof is a recent Financial Brand blog about digital banking insights that can be learned from China’s We Bank. The Shenzen-based, digital-only bank has experienced exponential growth since its inception in 2015. How? The cynic might ask this question: Could it be that they are raking in cash not because of a digital banking model worth emulating but, instead, a model that allows them to monetize data and loan money to high-risk individuals without fear of running afoul of regulatory agencies?

Case in point. We Bank has built a business of over 200 million customers by opening accounts with an average revenue per user of around $10 USD.  Their per-account operation cost is only 3.6 RMB, or roughly $.50 USD. And, they can process a loan application in just 5 seconds.  5 seconds!  How is that possible?  Henry Ma, CIO explains it so: “We work with a lot of internet platforms. Essentially, we embed our financial products into our partner platforms. And we also work with our partner platforms and leverage the data and the user base that they have and do a lot of pre-underwriting on the users. When we work with a particular platform, the user will get pre-underwritten and receive an invitation from us. Once the user accepts the invitation, we have already gotten some idea of what kind of a credit worthiness this user deserves.”

“We leverage the data and the user base and do a lot of pre-underwriting…”  Hmmm.  Where does this data to which Mr. Ma refers come from?  Sounds to me a like it might be Big Brother Banking, where your bank, in bed with Big Data Bad Boy, knows everything about you and then uses that information to sell their products (which of course, are products that create the revenue they didn’t generate when they sucked you in with a bait-and-switch offer.)

If this sounds a bit skeptical and cynical that’s because, frankly, it is.

Back to the original point here.  What “community” are digital banks serving and do our true, traditional, local community banks want to go there? The pandemic may have accelerated the digital banking trend, but that doesn’t necessarily signal progress or a direction in which banks need to necessarily go. People need community and connections. Yes, they want convenience, but once this pandemic is behind us, will those digital customers still feel the same way? Perhaps, but perhaps not. I could see the pendulum swinging back the other way with a re-birth of the branch bank. 

And why not?  E-tailers are doing it.  In “Why are Online Retailers adding Brick and Mortar Stores?” DeFi Nucleus Vision says, “Online shopping lacks human interactions. Customers don’t get a chance to ask in-store stylists for advice, it’s a solitary experience and customizations aren’t as easy to organize. Having a salesperson who greets you, tells you what looks good on you, gives you the right size, and offers a better color scheme can help brands build a deeper connection with the customer.”  A “deeper connection.” That sounds a lot like community banking to me.

About Bank Marketing Center

Here at BankMarketingCenter.com, our goal is to help you with that vital, topical, and compelling communication with customers; messaging that will help you build trust, relationships, and with them, your brand.

To view our marketing creative, both print and digital – ranging from product and brand ads to in-branch brochures and signage, visit bankmarketingcenter.com.  Or, you can contact me directly by phone at 678-528-6688 or email at nreynolds@bankmarketingcenter.com.  As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject.

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Are you expecting? Maybe your bank knows.

It was just less than a year ago (although the last six months have seemed more like six years) that The Financial Brand had this to say about banking and privacy. They pointed to an Accenture survey that found that “20% of banks monetize transaction data by delivering actionable insights and that 75% aspire to do so in the next three years. The consulting firm, which encourages financial institutions to pursue this strategy, also notes that monetizing consumer data is difficult to do well while also protecting consumers’ information.” The survey, according to the FB, also went on to predict that as banks explored this uncharted territory, they must tread lightly to protect the integrity of customer relationships.

How true that is. 

I think it might have been one of those satirical commercials done by Saturday Night Live a while back, I’m not sure, but what I do remember was their lampooning of banks using personal data for marketing purposes.  At one point in the faux commercial, which featured a young couple, the young man receives a series of SMS messages from their bank.  The messages are fairly innocuous at the start but become progressively more disconcerting.  The first text seems ordinary enough: “We hope you’re enjoying the new truck you purchased with one of our auto loans.”  When it’s followed shortly afterward by, “we’ve noticed that you made a large purchase at the grocery store just the other day… having a party?” the couple gets a bit concerned. By the last, they’re totally creeped out: “We have the loan you need when you’re ready to decorate that baby room. Congratulations.” The gag, of course, is that the couple doesn’t know they’re pregnant, yet their bank somehow does.

Granted, this is a bit of hyperbole, but it does point to the fact that monetizing consumer data can pretty quickly run afoul of the consumer’s desire for privacy. Consumers want the convenience of products and services being brought to their attention based on their “buyer journey” and purchasing habits, but they’re definitely conflicted about how much of their personal information is needed to make that happen. 

That’s challenge number one. The other is that Congress is not helping the matter. In the ABA Banking Journal blog, “How will increased privacy regulation affect bank marketing? author Karen Hoffman talks to the challenges that the industry faces in the area of privacy.  “Consumers complain,” Hoffman says, “that their personal privacy is not respected, but often freely share sensitive information when it suits them, especially in the interest of receiving more personalized products, services or marketing. Hence, financial marketers find themselves in a pointed Catch-22 in marketing: hoping to connect in a personal way with customers or prospects, but unable to overstep certain boundaries that would transgress emerging privacy regulations.”

The challenge for banks is twofold.  One, how do they walk the privacy tightrope, using just enough personal data to market products without frightening customers and two, how do they navigate a hodge-podge of regulations?  As Hoffman points out, “the big challenge is the emerging patchwork of state-by-state privacy regulations and enforcement. While many are similar in nature, each has its own definitions of personal data, rights under the law for consumers and operational impact. An institution that operates across 20 states may be looking at 20 different frameworks and bills applying to them and their accounts, some of which are potentially in a state of revision.” Also, while many state-by-state privacy regulations and enforcement are similar, each has its own definitions of personal data and rights under the law for consumers.

As banks continue to move their services online, the issue of privacy will continue to receive greater attention. How big an issue is it?  Opinions vary from “proceed with caution” to “don’t worry, consumers will give you whatever you want if you give them what they need.” While there seems to be differing opinions on the scope of the challenge, and with that a bit of uncertainty on how to proceed, one thing is for certain; your bank shouldn’t be the one to tell you that you’re expecting!

About Bank Marketing Center

Here at BankMarketingCenter.com, our goal is to help you with that vital, topical, and compelling communication with customers; messaging that will help you build trust, relationships, and with them, your brand.

To view our marketing creative, both print and digital, ranging from product and brand ads to in-branch brochures and signage, visit bankmarketingcenter.com.  Or, you can contact me directly by phone at 678-528-6688 or email at nreynolds@bankmarketingcenter.com.  As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject.

 

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Trying to market in a pandemic? See what the experts say.

What budget is the first to get slashed in an economic downturn?  As we all know, it’s marketing. As a former ad agency guy, I have lived through many a downturn.  We always knew that when times started to get tough, we were the first to lose our jobs… and, when times began to improve, we were always the last to return to work.  There’s an old agency metaphor for spending money in a downturn. We said it was “like shooting at ducks that aren’t there.” Well, right now, a lot of banks are looking to save their No. 2 Steel for another day.

But, perhaps they’re not ready to give up entirely on bagging a few.  I found Bill Streeter’s recent post on The Financial Brand both informative and, well, a bit encouraging; despite that fact that the challenge he addresses is that of “pinched budgets plus tougher competition.”

Why encouraging when we’re talking about an industry being in somewhat of an “unenviable position”? Because I think I can help.  Bill goes on to say: “New marketing technology can bring efficiency, which helps with budgets, but you can’t just snap your fingers to get there. It requires investment in software and talent.”

And I couldn’t agree more.

While a “new marketing technology” deficit is one of them, there are a handful of issues banks face when it comes to marketing in today’s economic turmoil. The Financial Brand interviewed Chandramouli Venkatesan, Market Development Executive in Capgemini’s Financial Services and Capital Markets, who pointed out some of those additional issues. “Multiple touchpoints to execute a campaign, lack of standardization of campaign components and manual handling of data should be solved by a marketing resource management solution,” he said. “The problem is that many of these software tools are out of date.”  He goes on to state that talent is a tougher challenge. “To have an agile marketing team an institution needs a blend of expertise in digital marketing technology, data, marketing, and creative, says Venkatesan. He acknowledges that external help will likely be needed.”

And this is where I think we can help. For those of you who aren’t familiar with bankmarketingcenter.com, we currently work with 20 state banking associations and over 300 banks, helping them address the challenges faced by their marketing teams.  Our partner banks have access to several thousand professionally designed layouts – created by agency trained, financial services industry professionals – that range from social media messaging, online banners and in-branch signage, to print and radio advertising. With unlimited access to millions of Getty Images, as well as the ability to customize copy and colors, banks are able to personalize these marketing materials quickly and easily, saving valuable time and money.  When Jim went on to say that “it is becoming increasingly challenging to deploy modern marketing with legacy talent, skills and mindset… and that most financial institutions will be better advised to partner with specialty organizations to provide the needed skills,” I said to myself, he is exactly right.  And that is what we’ve been trying to do with bankmarketingcenter.com. 

If ever there were a time when you should be making use of every marketing communication tool at your disposal, and being as efficient about the process as possible, this is it. As a financial institution, a trusted institution, you must keep your customers abreast of important economic developments, as well as the products and services that you can offer to help them navigate those developments. And you need to use every available tactic to do so: Social posting, advertising, newsletters, email, webinars, and direct mail.

While there may be fewer ducks to shoot at, that doesn’t mean you stop duck hunting entirely. It means that you just have to get better at it.

About Bank Marketing Center

Here at BankMarketingCenter.com, our goal is to help you with that vital, topical, and compelling communication with customers; messaging that will help you build trust, relationships, and with them, your brand. Messaging that you can customize to meet your needs in just minutes.

To view our marketing creative, both print and digital – ranging from product and brand ads to in-branch brochures and signage –  visit bankmarketingcenter.com.  Or, you can contact me directly by phone at 678-528-6688 or email at nreynolds@bankmarketingcenter.com.  As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject.

 

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Congress, Cannabis, and Covid-19 Put Banks in the Weeds.

With the arrival of Covid-19, there’s been quite a bit more discussion about marijuana.  Not just its use, not just the trend toward legalization at the state level, but its potential ability to actually help stem the coronavirus tide.

Back in the early fall, Forbes reported that “cannabis may help in severe Covid-19 cases.”  Since the first outbreaks, cannabis consumers have been wondering whether cannabis use will hurt or help. Over the last months, research has been pouring in.  Unfortunately, like lots of research and data interpretation, the available facts seem to point to two very different conclusions:  Yes, it can help and no, it is in fact, a contributory factor.

The main body of research suggesting cannabis might help those with Covid-19 points to cannabis derived chemical, CBD, as a potential treatment during severe cases of Covid-19.  Researchers from the University of Nebraska and the Texas Biomedical Research Institute first flagged the possibility, pointing out that CBD may be helpful for fighting the Covid-19 inflammation that is often fatal. Unfortunately, some research has pointed in the other direction. A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Western Australia compared cannabis use in the US with Covid-19 infection rates and found that the two were correlated - with cannabis use tied to an increased risk of the disease.

An industry that’s growing like a weed. (Sorry!)

This is a growing industry that’s comprised of an increasing number of businesses; growers/suppliers and retailers, just for a start. How big a business is it? The pot industry, comprised of MRBs or marijuana-related businesses, is a $50-some-odd billion industry. According to Marijuana Business Daily – I kid you not – the economic impact of the marijuana industry is predicted to reach $130 billion by 2024, exceeding the GDP of 9 US states. Currently, the industry employs more American workers than coal.

Where does this leave banks?

Banks, of course, want to stay in the good graces of regulators, shareholders, insurance carriers and the courts. Visit the American Bankers Association website today and read the ABA Positionon cannabis and you’ll see that the financial industry could really use some guidance. The site points out that there are at this moment thirty-three states that have enacted laws that legalized the use and distribution and manufacturing of medical marijuana along with 10 states plus DC, where legalized recreational marijuana is now the law. Here’s the rub; “the possession, distribution or sale of marijuana remains illegal under federal law, which means any contact with money that can be traced back to state marijuana operations could be considered money laundering and expose a bank to significant legal, operational and regulatory risk.”

So, again, where does this leave banks? In a bit of a marijuana induced fog, unfortunately. There is currently a tremendous legal risk for banks serving cannabis industry entities and individuals, “as indirect connections to marijuana revenues are hard, if not impossible, for banks to identify and avoid.” Banks are, as a result, hamstrung by a rift between federal and state laws, making it difficult to balance their desire to serve the financial needs of their local communities with the threat of federal enforcement action.

According to the ABA, “(we) take no position on the moral issues raised by legalizing marijuana, but the growing number of states that allow its sale and use raises practical issues that must be addressed. ABA believes the time has come for Congress and the regulatory agencies to provide greater legal clarity to banks operating in states where marijuana has been legalized for medical or adult use. We look forward to working with policymakers of both parties to find solutions that provide the legal and regulatory certainty banks need to best serve their communities.”

In the meantime, ABA Insurance Services, has created a “Cannabis National Bank” webinar that does a phenomenal job of talking through the issues of serving marijuana-related businesses. I highly recommend it.

About Bank Marketing Center

Here at BankMarketingCenter.com, our goal is to help you with that vital, topical, and compelling communication with customers; messaging that will help you build trust, relationships, and with them, your brand.

To view our marketing creative, both print and digital – ranging from product and brand ads to in-branch brochures and signage –  visit bankmarketingcenter.com.  Or, you can contact me directly by phone at 678-528-6688 or email at nreynolds@bankmarketingcenter.com.  As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject.

 

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Bank On-Certified. An Initiative Worth Banking On.

Back in July, we wrote about predatory lending and how, “In addition to the physical, emotional, and economic hardship brought about by COVID-19, Americans now faced another danger… predatory lenders.” Back then, we cited a July 2020 CNBC story entitled, New payday lending rules could leave 12 million Americans exposed to unaffordable payments.  In it, Alex Horowitz, senior research officer with Pew Charitable Trusts’ consumer finance project, said “that by eliminating the ability-to-repay protections, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is making a grave error that leaves the 12 million Americans who use payday loans every year exposed to unaffordable payments at annual interest rates that average nearly 400%.”

Looks like the ABA is stepping in where the CFPB wouldn’t.

On October 18, the American Bankers Association called for a renewed effort to address the tremendous number of families without access to banking services who, subsequently, are forced to turn to payday lenders. At the ABA’s Unconventional Convention, President and CEO Rob Nichols called upon every bank in the country to consider offering Bank On-certified accounts to expand access to banking services and reduce the number of unbanked and underbanked Americans. “Despite a strong financial services industry, we know that millions of Americans – and families of color in particular – remain outside the mainstream banking system and are missing the economic opportunities that come from having a bank account,” said Nichols. “By offering Bank On-certified accounts with the help of their core providers, America’s banks can open doors of opportunity to new and returning customers, demonstrating the banking industry’s commitment to financial inclusion.” 

The FDIC has reported that 14% of African American households and 12% of Hispanic households were unbanked in 2019. What do those numbers look like now, in an economy where millions are unemployed?  I hazard to think. And why are these numbers so outrageously high, in particular, among minorities? Some say they don’t have the funds to meet minimum account opening requirements.  Others say that they simply don’t trust banks. 

Bank On is Born

In response to this unbanked and underbanked “epidemic,” the ABA has launched a new initiative aimed at encouraging every US bank to offer ‘Bank On’ certified accounts, which are specifically designed to offer simple access to deposit accounts, online payments and debit cards for those currently outside the banking system.

“With more banks offering these kinds of accounts, we can further expand access to the mainstream banking system and all the economic opportunities that come with a bank account,” the ABA said in a statement.

More than 40 banks already offer Bank On-certified accounts, while the ABA’s website lists 20 banking technology providers that have signed up to facilitate such accounts, including FIS, Fiserv, Finastra, Jack Henry, CSi and UFS Data. The Bank On certification was created by the Cities for Financial Empowerment (CFE) Fund. To be certified, accounts must have low costs, no overdraft fees and online bill payment facilities.

Jonathan Mintz, president and CEO of the CFE Fund, said: “By urging banks of all sizes to join this initiative, particularly community banks, we can welcome millions of Americans into the banking system safely and efficiently. We also deeply appreciate the critical role the nation’s core providers are playing to make it happen.”

Let me just wrap up by saying that it’s this kind of thinking and action that make me proud to be in the banking business.  I hope you feel the same way and will support the ABA in their Bank On efforts.  To do so, you can start by going here, joinbankon.org.

About Bank Marketing Center

Here at BankMarketingCenter.com, our goal is to help you with that vital, topical, and compelling communication with customers; messaging that will help you build trust, relationships, and with them, your brand.

To view our marketing creative, both print and digital – ranging from product and brand ads to in-branch brochures and signage –  visit bankmarketingcenter.com.  Or, you can contact me directly by phone at 678-528-6688 or email at nreynolds@bankmarketingcenter.com.  As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject.

 

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A Random Act of Kindness Goes a Long Way.

[H/T: Uproxx, photo via Reddit] 

[Photo via Reddit]

Never has pouring a beer engendered so much media hype. Of course, I’m talking about the press around Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters pouring a fan a beer while on stage at a Foo Fighters concert a while back. What does pouring a beer have to do with banking?

Granted, you can’t – at least in your official capacity as their banker – buy a customer a beer. (What you do on your own time is your business!) But you can show the equivalent amount of understanding and compassion in other ways. 

What if you took advantage of SMS (Short Message Service) capabilities/opportunities and simply texted your customers every now and then?  Simple messages that, for instance, ask: “How are we doing?” or, better still, “Is there anything we can do for you?”  Offering a compliment or offering assistance seem like simple propositions. How hard is it?  Well, unfortunately, many find it remarkably hard.  When was the last time someone told you something, or asked you something, that actually made you feel good?  Rare even in the best of times and now, with a pandemic that has isolated us, rarer still.

It’s a known fact, yet often ignored, that a little caring goes a long way. And folks need it now more than ever. According to apnews, “the coronavirus pandemic has put millions of Americans out of work, but even many of those still working are fearful, distressed and stretched thin. A quarter of U.S. workers say they have even considered quitting their jobs as worries related to the pandemic weigh on them.”

In their recent article, Delivering Trust with Empathy – Where Next for Financial Brands, brandingmag.com tells us that “consumers engage with brands that understand their lifestyle and life stage. Financial brands really need to understand what matters to their customers…”

True. Importantly though, however, financial institutions need to do more than that. “Understanding customers” means more than simply offering products or services that happen to coincide well with a customer’s needs at that particular moment in their buyer journey. It’s almost like saying, “hey, we’re not here to sell you anything.  We just want to know how you are.”  Sounds odd, doesn’t it? That’s because, unfortunately, people seldom take the time to offer their appreciation or understanding.  While it might be a case of feeling it, but not expressing it because it can be uncomfortable, the result is the same; it doesn’t get said.

Grohl didn’t have to offer that fan a beer.  After all, the guy was already a fan, already in the audience and had, obviously, already purchased a ticket to be there. No sell was necessary. It was simply a completely selfless gesture.  And that’s what makes it all the more powerful.

About Bank Marketing Center

Here at BankMarketingCenter.com, our goal is to help you with that vital, topical, and compelling communication with customers; messaging that will help you build trust, relationships, and with them, your brand.

To view our marketing creative, both print and digital – ranging from product and brand ads to in-branch brochures and signage –  visit bankmarketingcenter.com.  Or, you can contact me directly by phone at 678-528-6688 or email at nreynolds@bankmarketingcenter.com.  As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject.

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Arkansas Bankers Association partners with Bank Marketing Center

The Arkansas Bankers Association (ABA) announced on October 18, 2020 their endorsement of BankMarketingCenter.com (BMC), a web-based marketing portal that empowers banks to quickly and easily produce professionally designed, bank-branded marketing materials. Through the endorsement, ABA members will save 20 percent on BMC's already low-cost monthly subscription fees.

BankMarketingCenter.com offers more than 3,000 professionally designed marketing materials and is constantly adding new content. Through the portal, users can route their customized materials to their bank's compliance department for approval, and everything is automatically archived and easily recalled for regulatory exams. Users have access to a library of over nine million stock photos from Getty Images.

"The web-based marketing portal that Bank Marketing Center utilizes is going to change the marketing game for our community banks in Arkansas. Bank Marketing Center has thousands of pre-designed marketing materials including ads, direct mail, statement stuffers, flyers, posters, and more. Our banks can customize these marketing materials within minutes, saving valuable time and money! We are pleased to welcome Bank Marketing Center to the ABA as an Endorsed Vendor," said Lorrie Trogden, President/CEO of Arkansas Bankers Association.

"We are thrilled to have won the endorsement of the Arkansas Bankers Association and look forward to building relationships with all of the wonderful banks in The Natural State," said BMC Founder and President Neal Reynolds. "I am pleased to say that this is the twentieth endorsement we've received from state banking associations."

For over 10 years, BankMarketingCenter.com has worked with hundreds of banks of all sizes and is currently partnering with 300 financial institutions. Community banks are able to create their own professionally designed marketing materials in seconds, saving valuable time and money. Larger banks are able to have their own private labeled marketing portal, giving their branches the marketing tools they need while still protecting the bank's brand and compliance.

The Arkansas Bankers Association was established in 1897. It is the state's largest and oldest banking industry organization and represents banks, bank holding companies, and savings & loans in Arkansas. The ABA provides a variety of member services, including educational programs, products and services, publications and a comprehensive government relations program.