The future of banking

BenjaminsGiven that I’m currently employed by a financial institution on the brink of household name stature and the fact that I’ve worked on various bits of financial services software for over a year now, this post is long time coming.

Banking is an old business. Like all business, it changes in accordance with technological and cultural advancement. However, due to a strong inclination toward stability, banking tends to evolve slowly. Well, it’s easy to see why that might not fly so well in the Millenial/Internet/Twitter era. Banks, especially smaller banks, are becoming marginalized as simple money storage for the vast majority of their clients. More and more people don’t go into branches to meet face-to-face, or if they do, they loathe it.

Banks are struggling to maintain relationships simply to self-advertise services, and the populace realizes they don’t need this anymore. Online transfers and ATM machines that take checks are the new tellers. So, what do banks even have to sell anymore?

The way I see it, financial institutions have only one thing to sell: trust. If people entrust their money to an entity, they’re expressing something pretty powerful. Trust isn’t portable, trust isn’t universal, trust isn’t patentable. People cherish those they trust, not just in personal circles, businesses, too. Mechanics, doctors, and baby sitters are all examples of trust-based services. Banks have yet to overtly capitalize on this area. Just as we’re all looking to tout our “car guy”, banks should strive to be our one stop money shop.

People are anxious about anything money. Accounts, investments, taxes, leases, there’s no one place to go to get definitive answers on the complex questions that surround these issues. And while I may be content to Wikipedia or WebMD a funny looking spot on my shoulder, never would I earnestly paste tax jargon into Google. But, someone who deals with money all day, a second pair of more knowledgable eyes, right in my neighborhood/Internet? Why, that would be a marvel. Something I would pay for, in fact. And banks are the ready interface.

The knowledge is out there, and even (especially) in this economy, we need a resource we can trust.

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