The financial services landscape has grown more crowded over the past five years, as consumers become increasingly comfortable living more of their financial lives online. Whether it’s big banks, challenger banks, big tech, fintech, or online lenders and payments providers, it seems everyone is offering easy, digital-friendly alternatives to traditional deposit accounts and loans.

Yet, community banks still have a vital role to play, and no one knows and serves the unique needs of a localized customer base better than a hometown bank. That’s why innovative community banks like Bank Independent of Sheffield, Alabama are making the most of their strengths in personalized service by combining it with a digital-first approach to achieve market-beating growth.

“As a community bank, we’re competing against the regional and super-regional banks,” says Kelly Burdette, Senior Vice President of Digital and Product at Bank Independent. “We need to have the technology, the experience and the workflow buttoned up so that we can continue to serve our customers with the white glove treatment.”

One way Bank Independent does this is by maintaining its digital channel as a wholly separate branch from its brick and mortar locations. “We believe this makes us unique in the online space,” says Selena Suggs, Vice President of Project Management at Bank Independent. “We have a digital office that is staffed just like our traditional offices, with a sales manager with credit authority and relationship bankers. Our digital office actually leads our bank every single month in new account openings.”

To foster and maintain this growth in a digital-first world, Bank Independent needed to address some challenges in the back office, including siloed systems, inefficient communication and poor visibility into loan and customer records. “Our systems didn’t talk to each other,” Suggs says. “Most of our communication was done via email, so information was not visible to all of the teams that were involved in helping the customer get a loan.”

Leveraging Technology for Transformation and Growth

With it’s sights set on leveraging technology for future growth, Bank Independent began an operational transformation in January 2019, when it implemented the nCino Bank Operating System® in its commercial lending operations.

“We had an extra level of assurance that nCino was going to be the right partner for us because it is one platform,” Burdette says. “With nCino, our sales team could start by identifying a potential customer, then track it as a lead and create the opportunity. From there, we take the application, get it into our pipeline and book the loan.”

Two years later, Bank Independent expanded its use of nCino into its retail lending operations and began employing automated decisioning for non-real estate loans, enabling greater consistency in credit decisions as well as faster approvals.

The Bank is now gearing up to implement nCino across more lines of businesses as it has goals for growth into the rapidly growing Huntsville, Alabama market. According to Suggs, Bank Independent’s vision for nCino “is to have everyone working in one platform no matter their role within the bank.”

Since transforming its processes, Bank Independent has achieved faster loan cycle times, less manual entry, more efficient communication and improved visibility across functions and roles through built-in reports and dashboards. With streamlined and quicker processes all on a cloud platform, Bank Independent can now better serve its customers, wherever they are located and the Bank is better positioned for extensive growth.

To stay competitive in an ever-changing financial services landscape, community banks must embrace the digital revolution – from the back office to the customer’s smartphone. To learn more about Bank Independent’s journey to growth and transformation, download our Snapshot on Bank Independent.

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