I recently spoke at the DCI Annual Users Conference and the ABA Bank Marketing Conference about, among other things, how bankers can get off the the "hot rate" kick. I can think of no reason why a bank would claim the mantel of brand leadership if they must routinely price up deposits or reduce loan yields or structures to get new customers.
Here were their answers.
How to Get Off the Hot Rate Ferris Wheel
Specialize/Niche- Given by a Midwest banker, the thought process goes that if you're a really good ag lender and understand the needs of the customer and issues facing them, the customer will not put their loan up to multiple bids and dump you for an eighth. Same goes for other niches such as business transition loans, trucking, oil/gas exploration, etc.
Speed to Close- Given by another Midwest bank CEO, the thought process goes that there is less price sensitivity if you can get to the closing table faster than competitors with as few pain points as possible.
Deep relationships- I suppose this bank marketer used the word deep to emphasize relationships when oftentimes bankers use "relationships" as something they have, yet must be best price to get the business. In other words, they really don't have "deep relationships." The cynic in me thinks instead of deep relationships, this should be actual relationships. But I go with what the banker gave me.
Ideas From My Presentation
Reward Loyalty- Rather than paying the best rates to non-customers to entice them to become customers and then make up the profit difference from your existing customers, why not reward your existing customers to entice them to increase their balances with you? Some do this in terms of special dividends to core deposit customers at the end of the year if the year has been a good one.
Flash Sale to Core Depositors- Along the same lines, give your customers more reasons to bank with you and tell their network to bank with you. Have occasional "blue light specials" to existing core customers as a benefit for their doing business with your bank.
Build relationships- Same as the Deep Relationships above. It's harder to dump your bank for minor rate variations if the customer has an actual relationship with one or more (preferable) of your bankers.
Don't screw your customers- Why torment loyal customers with a 7-month CD promo only to drop it to the lower 6 month rate when it matures because you know 70% of takers will be asleep at the switch. How does that build trust?
Store of Value Vs. Accumulation Accounts- A customer isn't normally 100% price sensitive on all of their accounts. They may be on IRA CD's or their emergency fund account, where they at least will want to cover inflation. But they may not be in their operating account or some special purpose savings accounts where they want the FDIC insurance and efficient transaction processing. Know the difference per customer.
Empower bankers on pricing- This is relating to the Store of Value idea above. It would be very difficult to know institutionally that a particular customer views a particular account as a store of value versus accumulation account. But it would be easier for the banker with the relationship. This implies you allow them to have pricing flexibility, within guardrails of course.
Be part of customers' personal brands- "I gotta have my Starbucks!" "My broker is EF Hutton, and EF Hutton says..." "I'm a member of Lancaster Country Club." If you're brand is worth bragging about to burnish the personal brand of your customers, you don't have to be the best price in town. In fact, being the best price in town might diminish your brand. Like Starbucks going into turnpike rest areas.
Any more ideas on how to get off the hot rate Ferris Wheel?
Please consider reading my book: Squared Away-How Can Bankers Succeed as Economic First Responders.
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