Future Banking and You: The Changes to Come
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.