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Future Banking and You: The Changes to Come

Updated on June 26, 2010

Your bank is changing, and it wants your money now more than ever.

In response to some recent fan mail (fan mail! never thought I'd see the day), I'm writing this Hub to describe some changes taking place within banks all over the United States, including the one that currently employs me. Due to certain legal obligations I can't identify my institution by name, but there's probably one somewhere near your location.

In the past, most banks have been content with a kind of sit and wait approach; they knew you would eventually have a need for their services. Almost everyone has a checking or savings account, debit cards make purchases much easier, and hiding cash in your mattress doesn't generate interest.

During the past few years, things have changed dramatically. In 2008, Congress temporarily approved an increase in federal deposit insurance, from $100,000 per individual to $250,000. Since then, Congress has repeatedly upheld this increase, presently until 2013. In this year alone, the FDIC has so far shuttered a stunning total of 87 banks, with more closures projected before the end of 2010. Customers just aren't confident in the financial system anymore. Banks are dropping like flies, and suddenly that mattress seems like the safest investment.

In response to this financial upheaval, banks are increasingly becoming more proactive in their approach to customer service. Waiting for business is no longer viable; personal bankers double as salespeople, and banking services that were once privileges are now goods that must be marketed to the public.

Today's banking strategy places an extreme emphasis on sales. As a teller in 2008, I was expected to make customers feel comfortable and process their transactions quickly and accurately. Now my title is 'Universal Banker,' and I have a sales goal; on top of my previous responsibilities I should recommend different products or services suited to your specific financial needs. I am required to open a certain number of accounts on a quarterly basis, and the branch in which I work has a sales goal as well.

According to my colleagues and other associates, this trend is perpetuating itself throughout the financial industry. Sales numbers dominate corporate meetings and employees are under increasing pressure to obtain new customers and expand existing relationships.

On the surface, not much has changed. Customers are still greeted with friendly smiles and obligatory small talk, but now it will be followed up with some very specific suggestions. Have you considered an interest-bearing account for your excess currency? Can we interest you in our new totally free checking account? Have you taken advantage of our online banking system? A youth savings account would really help teach your children some financial responsibility.

This is the bank of the future; a mixture of salesmanship and customer service with an emphasis on catering to all of your financial needs.

Don't be surprised when your personal banker gives you a phone call to inquire about your financial needs and to suggest better ways to invest your money. Their very livelihood now depends on it.


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    • jimbody profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Chicago, IL

      Thanks for the comments everyone.

      wingedcentaur, I mostly find that I spend a lot more time thinking of ways to start conversations with random people in order to sell things. It's really emphasizing my small talk and customer service skills, and I'm getting great at chatting with just about anyone.

      I've got an Associate's of Business Admin, but I really would not want to go back and become a teacher. Those who can't, teach? I need a good idea to start a business with, but then again so does virtually everyone.

      Also, very astute observation about how we as a culture view the merchant. I'm a fan of Star Trek, and the Ferengi are a great example. We salespeople are just misunderstood!

      multimastery, the banker in me would like to point out that Congress is working hard on financial reform to reduce the fees customers pay for various services. In a couple years you can expect to see things like overdraft fees, credit card fees, account maintenance fees and other pesky expenses to be federally limited. In other words, if your bank is FDIC insured they'll need to follow these federal guidelines.

      But kudos for shopping around, you are certainly right in that not all banks or financial products are created equally.

      Thanks again for the kind words!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I've dealt with a lot of banks, and quite franky many of them play too many unfair money games with fees on top of fees. It is one thing to acquire a new customer, but it is another thing to keep them satisfied. I'm not a big fan of banks anymore. There are other newwave financial options for consumers to choose from now. Many are cheaper with better customer service. There are also more lucrative places to invest my money other than low-interest, fee-driven banks. Well-written hub and best wishes to you.

    • wingedcentaur profile image

      William Thomas 

      8 years ago from That Great Primordial Smash UP of This and That Which Gave Rise To All Beings and All Things!

      Good Day jimbody

      Cold calls you say? Good Lord! So are banks becoming boiler rooms now? Do you find the selling changing your personality in any way, or emphasizing aspects of your personality you generally try to de-emphasize?

      You know, jimbody, societies tend not to like the merchant very much. The historical antecedents go way back into ancient times. Wherever you look, at any time, the merchant/money lender class was always shunned socially by the upper classes -- and the rest of society absorbed this contempt (you know much of what passes for culture in any given society are hand-me-downs from the ruling classes).

      If you think about it, we, in America (the place the invented advertizing no less) have enshrined this contempt for the merchant in our popular culture. Let me give one example.

      Take the show Star Trek Deep Space Nine (starring Avery Brooks as Commander Sisko). On this space station is a bar and gambling casino run by Qwark. Qwark is a Ferengi. Who are the Ferengi?

      They are a race of bald, lumpy-headed, Dumbo-earred, thoroughly unscrupulous, amoral, cut-throat merchants, free market extremists. They are treated with such contempt by the other races of the Alpha Quadrant for being merchants. Its that ancient wariness of the salesman.

      Its interesting that this current financial crisis was brought about by extreme salesmanship (in pushing sub prime loans on people) and extreme banking (basically, extreme to the point of accounting fraud) -- sales and banking two of the more socially snubbed pursuits for most of human history.

      Anyway, you do need a new line of work. :(

      Hey, you're twenty-two. Did you graduate college? Do you like kids? Why don't you go into teaching. :)

    • jimbody profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Chicago, IL

      To be honest, I'm not a big fan of the new changes. This is mostly because it's just added pressure and more work on top of knowing all of the bank's products and procedures. There's more luck involved in being successful now; we've got to convince new and existing customers that they NEED a certain product or service just to meet our sales goals.

      I agree that it is pretty sad, but there's no sign of it letting up. Some of us were making COLD CALLS the other day to random strangers trying to sell various accounts. I need a new line of work. :(

    • wingedcentaur profile image

      William Thomas 

      8 years ago from That Great Primordial Smash UP of This and That Which Gave Rise To All Beings and All Things!

      Good Day jimbody

      This is a well written hub, short and to the point. I'm voting it up for 'useful.' Tell me: How do you, jimbody, feel about these changes in the banking industry you refer to? Do you enjoy the added sales responsibility or not?

      If so, why? If not, why not? It seems kind of sad that banks, that used to be thought of as one of the bedrocks of our society, have to justify themselves all over again.


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