Rate hikes and other challenging market events have caused many financial institutions to turn their focus back toward customer deposits to help fund growth and increase liquidity.
Priorities are shifting away from more costly wholesale funding to larger clients that can quickly add significant deposit balances and value. And with that shift comes a renewed focus on treasury management clients as a uniquely effective source of deposits.
The typical treasury management client tends to operate with larger balances and make heavier use of “sticky” services, providing a stable source of low-cost or no-cost deposits. But with such intense market competition to grow deposits and more businesses being open to changing financial institutions, capitalizing on the opportunity these clients present requires financial institutions to focus on providing a quality customer experience.
If your financial institution wants to attract and retain treasury management clients, here are four key areas to address:
1. Client onboarding
The onboarding stage is critical for new clients since it presents them with a first impression about services in your financial institution.
To create an effective onboarding process, be sure to establish definitive, consistent steps centered around internal collaboration and proactive client communication. Consider the process from the standpoint of your client journey: Your new clients want a seamless experience that can only be accomplished through a defined plan delivered by a well-aligned team.
Onboarding should also be a team effort.
In many financial institutions, the client-facing onboarding process is handled by a member of the sales team. But pairing those representatives with a back-office team member can help your new clients better understand your processes and services. Additionally, collaboration makes it easier for your financial institution to address new client concerns or variations in products or services prior to going live.
For example, the sales team is typically more familiar with online banking systems as they relate to the client-facing view, while the operations team will understand other important factors such as user administration, process flows and security functionality. And by including someone such as a Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) officer in the discussion, you can help ensure that the client’s transaction profile is built out correctly for ongoing monitoring.
Bringing this combined knowledge together gives your clients and you a more complete view of what everyone can expect while providing an easier client transition into your institution.
Unfortunately, all the qualities that make treasury management clients attractive also make them challenging to oversee, especially for smaller financial institutions. The variety of services they use and the larger amounts of money they handle means that cooperation is required from a wide variety of departments.
Larger financial institutions usually contain all the necessary skills and knowledge in a treasury management department. For institutions that don’t have the resources to make that feasible, interdepartmental collaboration is key, especially between client-facing and back-office workers.
Creating an outreach program spearheaded by a single representative can help make this collaboration easier. The representative should have full responsibility for the client deposit relationship, making sure that the client is completely satisfied and well positioned to continue with your financial institution.
It’s also important to extend communication beyond simply addressing client questions and needs. Clients should see your financial institution as a trusted advisor, not a vendor. Providing them with insight into industry and market trends — as well as best practices to help manage their accounts and funds — builds trust and can lead to them engaging with your institution to provide more services.
Reviewing and updating your processes can help remove friction from your client experience.
Many financial intitutions are still using pen-and-paper processes with individual agreements for each service provided, with additional forms added as new services are offered or when audits identify deficiencies. Over time, these forms can start to build up and make processes more tedious for clients. They also have a greater chance of being misaligned or outdated.
Instead, consider consolidating your forms. For example, creating a single, master treasury agreement can streamline the implementation process for clients, and it makes it easier for your institution to keep forms updated as regulations change.
There may be opportunities to eliminate outdated and unnecessary processes as well. Removing that wet signature or faxed copy of a printed stop payment form when it’s already been completed online by a validated user can go a long way toward increased client satisfaction. In addition to removing an annoying step in a transaction for a client, you’re reducing back-office resource requirements and potential audit exceptions at the same time.
You can also turn to your existing workflow systems for help with managing these relationships. For instance, your institution may already have a ticket tracking system that’s used for a call center environment. That same system might be leveraged to track implementations, service calls or other deliverables for your treasury management clients as well.
4. Fraud protection
Treasury management clients can represent your largest deposits, and they tend to use electronic transfer methods more heavily, putting them at greater risk for fraud. According to the 2023 Association for Financial Professionals (AFP) Payments Fraud and Control Survey, 65% of organizations were victims of payments fraud attacks, with 71% of those attacks coming in the form of business email compromise (BEC).
To help protect your clients, focus on education. Clients may not understand their risks, or even mistakenly believe that their financial institution will cover any losses sustained from fraud. With 63% of AFP’s respondents reporting check fraud, conveying the benefits of positive pay to your clients should be a priority.
Be sure to inform your clients regularly on best practices for web and data security, as well as the relevant expectations in their treasury agreement. You can also leverage services such as Lexalign to proactively reach out and help them identify security weaknesses and create policies to guard against BEC and other fraud attempts.
Four out of five AFP survey participants cited that they are most likely to seek assistance from their banking partners for guidance on minimizing the impact of fraud. Working with your clients to increase awareness not only helps reduce risk, it also adds significant value for your client while positioning your financial institution as a trusted partner in keeping their funds secure.
How Wipfli can help
With a team that includes individuals with over 20 years of experience as financial institution leaders, Wipfli understands your unique industry challenges. We’re ready to help you craft client journeys and improve organizational performance so that you can deliver an enhanced client experience.
Contact us today to learn more about how we can provide you with the strategies and best practices your financial institution needs to grow.
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