COVID 19 – Changing the Digital Banking Landscape: Part 2
In my previous blog, I highlighted that different banking “personas” have differing goals with respect to digital banking. The large, national financial institutions envision digital banking as being a fundamental competitive differentiator they need to continuously build upon. The smaller community banks and credit unions are looking to continue to provide an attractive, local alternative like they have done in the past, while meeting the growing digital requirements within their budget constraints. Meanwhile, new, online-only entrants are making a bet that their future banking clientele do not require any physical presence, particularly in the millennial market.
This blog delves deeper into the strategies and tactics being deployed by the first group, the large national players. With the financial wherewithal to invest in new technology, these institutions strive to provide the widest array of banking options and features to attract and retain customers, while also improving efficiencies within their companies.
As early adopters of online and mobile banking services, the national banking institutions enjoyed an advantage over their smaller competitors when the pandemic hit and physical access to bank branches became limited. Not surprisingly, the J.D Power 2020 Retail Banking Satisfaction Study found that these large financial institutions had both a greater penetration of digital customers and a higher customer satisfaction index of their customers, using more advanced online and mobile capabilities to achieve this advantage while increasing revenues, managing costs and improving service.
Many large national banks have increased revenues and grown market share largely by focusing on customer experience as an essential component in attracting clients from large and small competitors alike. By increasingly using human-centered design techniques and mobile banking services to tailor technology to the needs of the customer base being served, these banks have rolled out highly effective online and mobile platforms that leave customers feeling good about their experience. This approach often includes faster onboarding, simplified payment processing, and easier access to account and transaction information with digital signatures and mobile check deposits reducing the need to come to a branch to create a new account or conduct many common transactions.
Reducing foot traffic into branches has not reduced the ability to grow revenues by selling more products, however, as the national players have increasingly leveraged artificial intelligence to mine their data to determine which customers are likely candidates to purchase certain products, and then following up with targeted online marketing campaigns to promote those products and make signing up quick and easy via online banking.
Despite the obvious technology costs of deploying digital banking capabilities, the large players have found ways to use digital banking to reduce two of their largest expenditures: labor costs and fraud losses. Like most companies, the largest expense for a bank is their human capital costs. Technology has successfully enabled the large financial institutions to serve more customers with fewer employees.
Using robotic process automation, more and more activities previously performed manually by bank staff are now computerized. Chatbots and Voice Assistants are also being used to allow customers to get answers to questions or to process certain transactions with less need for interaction with a human employee. As an example of the magnitude of this labor cost reduction, in an interview with CNBC in October, 2020 Brian Moynihan, CEO of Bank of America (BofA), stated that through the adoption of technology, BofA has reduced its workforce in the past decade from 288,000 people to 204,000, a 29% decrease.
While the increased use of digital banking has led to efficiency in bank operations, it has also increased the risk for bank fraud. Online and mobile banking provide new gateways for criminals to defraud businesses and consumers. Fortunately, artificial intelligence and machine learning platforms have provided a means to combat these criminal activities and reduce the losses associated with bank fraud. As the sophistication of these systems have grown, they have become more equipped to recognize emerging trends and behaviors to identify additional transactions of concern. In the past, one common mechanism to mitigate risk of a potentially fraudulent transaction was to simply deny an application. Today, using artificial intelligence, fraud losses are being mitigated with less impact to approval rates.
Finally, with respect to improving service, a growing trend particularly popular among younger customers is the concept of digital self-service. Self-service is the ability for customers to get answers to questions and process transactions without the need to wait for a service representative to help them. According to Salesforce’s “State of the Connected Customer”, 59% of consumers and 71% of business buyers say self-service availability positively impacts their loyalty.
Features like Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), videos about banking products, or financially-related knowledge articles have been added to bank websites and mobile apps as part of this self-service. Combined with Chatbots and Voice Assistants mentioned above, customers are now getting the answers they are looking for much quicker than they were when waiting for a customer service representative on the phone.
These digital banking technology investments have provided the large financial institutions a strategic advantage over their smaller, less well-healed competitors. So, what are these community banks and credit unions doing to counter this advantage? Stay tuned for my next blog in this series.
CC Pace would not have reached our 40th Anniversary without a strong corporate culture, which is why we have decided to dedicate this third blog in our 40 Years and Forward series to it! Our president, Mike Gordon, often says that “Our people are our most important asset!”. It is obvious that one of the things that really sets CC Pace apart from the rest, is our continued commitment to our people. Mike’s beliefs in a strong workforce are what has cultivated a culture centered around collaboration, productivity and having fun!
CC Pace understands a “one-size-fits-all” approach towards employees is not the answer to having a positive corporate culture, but rather one in which openness to new ideas and flexibility are encouraged. From day one, our new team members are introduced to our concept of an “open-door policy” where everyone is accessible to those who have questions, need guidance or have ideas to share. Here at CC Pace we value collaboration and you are always encouraged to bounce ideas around with your fellow CC Pacers. Since COVID-19 hit our area, we have continued to foster this mentality remotely through live meetings on Microsoft Teams.
CC Pace and its’ employees are also very committed to giving back to our community through volunteering, collecting donations and providing other support. A prime example of that is the quarterly service and outreach events we organize as a company. In the past year alone, we have participated in events such as the Power Pack Program, a volunteer night at the Katherine Hanley Community Shelter, a successful Toys for Tots holiday toy drive, various item donation events and much more. Connecting with our community and making a difference together brings much joy to our team!
At CC Pace, not only do we work hard but we play hard as well. Social events are a big part of what unifies our tight knit family culture. We like to celebrate everything both big and small! Of course, we have our regular happy hours and annual company party (which is awesome by the way), but the fun doesn’t stop there – our People’s Engagement Committee’s (PEC) sole purpose is to plan engaging activities all year long. Themed events like our Kentucky Derby party and our Superbowl kickoff create a fun atmosphere and help to develop those connections and relationships that strengthen our company. Now that we find ourselves working remotely 100% of the time, our office has navigated this new normal and strived to maintain that level of fun and camaraderie by having online social events such as happy hours (do you see a common theme here?) and even a virtual company bingo night!
The culture that CC Pace promotes empowers employees to not only be social, but it motivates them to consistently produce high quality work as well. It allows our team to better collaborate, learn, grow and develop in their roles.
…Stay tuned for our next edition in our 40 Years and Forward series where we will share 40 Fun Facts about CC Pace!
While digital banking has been on the upswing for many years, the COVID 19 virus has changed its trajectory. While many consumers prefer conducting banking transactions from their phone or computer over making a trip to their local bank branch and dealing with the lines at teller stations or drive-up windows, the pace of adoption has lagged expectations until the recent crisis.
Digital banking can have slightly different meanings depending upon who you are speaking with. For contextual purposes in this blog series, consider digital banking to be the movement of the traditional banking activities that were historically performed when a customer physically went inside of a bank branch to now being performed online through a web browser or a mobile phone. These activities could include:
- Check Deposits
- Money Transfers
- Bill Payment
- Account Management
- Application Submissions for Financial Products
Most commonly, the digital banking experience occurs at a traditional bank that has augmented its branch services with online and mobile tool options. However, new entrants into the financial services market have created digital-only banking where no brick and mortar branches exist, and all transactions are performed electronically.
This move towards digital banking reflects a broader societal trend of conducting more transactions in a self-service mode, which has been advanced by the younger generation who are more comfortable using technology to conduct business. However, not all banks embrace digital banking with the same mindset. Some larger institutions see digital banking as transformational, envisioning a new overall model for conducting business with less bricks and mortar and more ancillary revenue generated by the online transactions. For the most part, smaller players have taken more of a “follower” position, providing basic mobile and online banking functionality that meet a minimal bar for a modern bank but nothing that serves as a marketplace differentiator.
The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly accelerated the adoption of digital banking apps, with the clear expectation that, even if it were to end, many consumers will no longer go back to the physical branches like they did in the past. The J.D. Powers’ 2020 Retail Banking Satisfaction Study found that:
- 36% of respondents plan to use more online tools to do more of their banking
- 20% plan to go to their bank branch less often
- 24% plan to use mobile payment apps to make purchases in stores more often
- 18% plan to use ATMs less often out of concern over spreading the COVID virus
The large, national financial institutions envision digital banking as being a fundamental competitive differentiator that they need to continuously build upon. Leveraging technologies that include artificial intelligence, data analytics and advanced fraud detection will provide some of the avenues they seek for further enhancing the experience and convenience to their customers.
The smaller community banks and credit unions have used their local commitment and high-touch approach to provide a different option than offered by their bigger rivals. This distinction is being highly compromised by the reluctance, if not inability, to go into a physical branch for the foreseeable future. To compensate, these local players are looking to find ways, such as mobile account access, to adapt to the current trends and situation, while still providing an attractive alternative as they have done in the past.
Digital-only entrants seek to capitalize on consumer preference changes shifting towards online and mobile devices, making a bet that the future of banking does not require any physical presence. They see that customers are increasingly willing to switch banks for digital features and thus strive to provide the optimal digital experience. Their target market focus are millennials who embrace technology and who are rapidly becoming the largest consumers of financial products.
In my next three blogs, I will provide: 1) insights into what the largest players are investing to further transform the digital banking environment, 2) strategies that the smaller traditional players are taking to compete effectively in the changing landscape and 3) the differentiation strategy that the newer, digital-only entrants are employing to gain some market share and how well it’s working.
It is said that the President of the United States is the most sought-after interview subject in the world. However, there’s another president just outside of the DC border (in Fairfax, Virginia to be exact) who may feel like a close second, as he’s had quite the interview agenda recently. Earlier this month, the #1 business radio show in the country, Executive Leaders Radio, sat down with CC Pace’s President, Mike Gordon, for an exclusive interview. We recently did the same, and while we may have asked different questions, both interviews unveiled unique and surprising facts about Mike and what it takes to be president… of CC Pace.
So, who is Mike Gordon, really? We asked Mike for 10 minutes where we threw random and fun questions his way to help us gain some insight on our leader. Always a good sport, here are his responses:
How old were you when you got your first real paying job? What was the job? I was about 10 years old, and I took over a friend’s paper route delivering the Wilmington Morning News.
Who is CC Pace and how often do people ask you that? Occasionally someone asks me who CC Pace is, but more often the question I get (at least a couple of times a month) is where did the name CC Pace come from. There is no person named CC Pace. I am happy to share the evolutionary story of how the name CC Pace came to being with anyone who has the time.
Describe your first sale/customer? The first customer that I supported coming out of college was the Department of Energy (DOE), which was our largest client at the time. The country had recently gone through an energy crisis with gasoline shortages and the DOE wanted to be better equipped to handle a similar situation, should it occur in the future. I built a very small system that allowed the federal government to capture gasoline inventories that would be reported by the states in the event that rationing was needed. To the best of my knowledge, the system was never actually used.
Describe the first customer you lost and why? Ironically, I would say that the first customer that I lost was Freddie Mac. I had been part of a CC Pace team that had worked on building MIDAS, Freddie Mac’s legacy system. Over time, I was the only CC Pace person remaining on the project and I communicated to Freddie Mac that this was a sustainable model for us. When nothing changed, a former director from Freddie Mac who had joined Fannie Mae asked me to bring a team over there to help redevelop Fannie’s systems which is what we did (Like MacArthur, I returned 4 years later).
Who was the first employee you ever hired? I’m not sure. Philippa Fewell (the current Managing Director of our Enterprise Solutions group) is the first person who I remember interviewing, but I was not the ultimate decision maker. Jane (Abdunnur) Dwight is the first person who I remember hiring to a management position, but I suspect that there may have been others who I hired before that.
How many hours of sleep do you get on average each night? 7 (I like to get 8 hours when I can), but invariably there are some nights I only get 5 hours or less.
What is the last book you read? The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life
What is the last movie you saw in the theater? American Sniper
How would you describe yourself in one word? Practical
Golf or Tennis? If golf, what’s your best score? Tennis in my youth, golf now. Best golf score on a legitimate course is 78.
What is your favorite restaurant? Villagio in Clifton, Virginia
What is the best piece of advice you ever got from one of your children? Don’t sing in public!
Have you ever met anyone famous? I have met a number of famous people, with the most impressive being Maya Angelou. She was a long-time supporter of SOME (So Others Might Eat) and I met her at a private reception during one of their annual galas. When she spoke, her words were so full of imagery, her messages were always so powerful, and her voice was more commanding than anyone else who I have ever heard in my life.
What is your favorite band? Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
Thanks Mike, now we know the boss likes The Boss, can hold his own on the golf course, and has had a great work ethic since the young age of 10!
Want to learn more about Mike Gordon? You can check out Mike’s segment on Executive Leaders Radio and hear how at the age of 16, he and his brother took over his family’s business – not realizing how much impact that one decision would have on shaping him into the leader he is today. Executive Leaders Radio is the #1 business weekly radio show in the country and is broadcast nationally to an audience of 7 million listeners.
Before heading down to Ruth’s Chris for our Annual Winter Party, CC Pace President Mike Gordon spoke at our corporate staff meeting and rolled out our business plan and new initiatives for 2015. Our corporate staff meetings give us an opportunity to bring employees together from our main office and various client sites to share what is going on with CC Pace and provides a great time to catch up with colleagues.
Immediately following our Staff Meeting, we headed downstairs to Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, conveniently located on the first floor of our building. Our Annual Winter Party is a rich tradition that began at CC Pace years ago. We once held our parties in December, renting out ballrooms at local hotels and other venues for the event. One year, a hotel lost our reservation and we had to hold the party in later months. The holidays are a very busy time of year and we found that having the party in the first quarter of the New Year actually served us well. Generally, there is less going on during this time of year and things are less hectic and we found that people enjoyed the new timeframe and we had higher attendance as a result.
Big hits at this year’s party included seared tuna, beef tenderloin, sliders, and a great selection of decadent desserts! It was a great evening to share with employees and their spouses. The planning was done by our very own Staffing Manager, Laura Campbell, who did a great job of organizing the event. We are already counting the days until next year’s party!
Mike Gordon addresses the company during our staff meeting
Jason and Clay kicking off our annual party!
Everyone enjoyed great food and conversation!
In 1970, Father Horace McKenna, S.J. and an interfaith group of priests, ministers, and lay persons founded So Others Might Eat (SOME) to offer food, clothing and health care to the poor and homeless. CC Pace has long been a supporter of this exceptional organization; and, CC Pace President, Mike Gordon has been a member of the SOME Corporate Advisory Board for fifteen years.
Each year SOME holds their Annual Dinner Gala and Silent Auction to raise funds for a specific need of the organization. This year’s funds will benefit SOME’s Capital Campaign to develop a site on Benning Road in DC that will include housing, job training, offices, retail space and a medical clinic. This year’s event was held November 22nd at the National Building Museum with 850 attendees. The evening was full of a very giving spirit with gracious donors and praise for all the important work being done by SOME. The entire event and silent auction resulted in approximately $1,000,000 of donations.
Highlights of the evening included a touching film featuring Dr. Maya Angelou; and, a tribute to her generous support and contributions to SOME over the years. Each year SOME recognizes members of the community for their outstanding contributions and support with the SOME McKenna Humanitarians of the Year award, this year’s recipients were Ed and Kathleen Quinn. Ed Quinn is the CEO of TW Perry.
Pictured here are CC Pace President, Mike Gordon, his wife Tracy and SOME President, Father John Adams who has directed SOME for more than 35 years.