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In 2016, our financial team traveled. A lot.

We didn’t only travel within our home state of Iowa or to five of our six neighbors (sorry, Minnesota). We were at association, marketing and technology conferences everywhere from Denver, Las Vegas and Nashville to Kansas City, Orlando and Virginia.

Why did we travel so much? There are a couple of reasons. First, we love to support the associations we are part of because they have been so good to us. Second, we’re passionate about learning and gaining insight into the financial industry. And third, we truly enjoy getting to know community bankers, the challenges they face and the things that matter to them.

And we listen!

To prove it, here are a few key points that three of our team members heard from numerous bankers, speakers and bank customers during their travels this year.

Rob DuryeaRob Duryea, President, VGM Forbin

“There needs to be a seamless user experience whether I’m on my smartphone, on my laptop or standing in front of a teller at a branch. I shouldn’t feel let down during any part of my experience when I’m simply asking for help, opening an account or applying for a loan.

From a security aspect, both bankers and customers recognize the need for peace of mind. This requires having the right systems, education and protocols in place on your website, with your staff and within your branch.

Finally, I heard a lot about needing a ‘marketing partner and solution provider.’ I think this stems from vendor management and the exhaustive barriers banks experience within this task. Marketing and technological solutions don’t have to be separate enterprises, which is why we’re taking more steps to bridge the gap and develop solutions that marketing, IT and operations personnel will all find useful and beneficial.”

Donny WilsonDonny Wilson, Manager of Sales, Financial Team

“My three ideas all link together. First, there is a need for a clear omni-channel strategy. Most institutions have a website, a mobile app and at least one social media profile. The expectations on the consumer end is that they should be able to do what they want, when they want and how they want.

Similarly, consumers and banks alike are looking for more interaction in terms of completing more advanced banking tasks online or from a mobile device. To me, a few examples of a true interactive banking experience include fully funding a new checking or trust account in real time, or getting a decision on a loan instantly.

All of these channels, tools and experiences need to be personalized as well. Consumers want to know what you’re offering is right for them, not everyone. Personalized experiences created using the right data can be the deciding factor for many consumers when making a decision about using your bank’s services or not.”

Kenyetta ParksKenyetta Parks, Southeast Account Executive, Financial Team

“For me, staying above the marketing curve is a huge task for operations, marketing and IT team members in banks right now. Technology is evolving at such a fast rate that by the time a bank has implemented a new marketing or sales tool, they’re already behind again. This points to the need for true marketing-and-solution-provider-in-one.

In a similar vein, mobile technology is also a hot-button issue. Many banks have (or are implementing) a mobile app, and many have started offering mobile deposit. The biggest question I heard is, “What’s next for mobile?” The opportunities are pretty wide open, which is why Forbin’s push into mobile tech is so exciting.

Website security is and will continue to be a huge concern. A lot of bankers and IT professional at banks still don’t understand the security issues of open source systems like WordPress, Drupal and Joomla or how to combat them, which is a pretty glaring problem.”

So, to break down this knowledge into three digestible ideas:

  1. Security, particularly with your institution’s website, is a crucial aspect of your online presence.
  2. Banks should look for partners who can provide high-quality marketing services and the technological tools to drive business and simplify staff tasks.
  3. Banks should also focus on creating a customer experience that is open and simple for as many platforms as possible.

We’re definitely looking forward to seeing what innovations 2017 has in store. For our part, we’re continuing to find ways to provide quality technology and marketing services to community banks to help them compete with and beat regional and national institutions.

We’ll also continue to be out in force at association, marketing and technology events across the country next year, so don’t be shy if you see us at the next conference you’re at.

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