My husband and I were decluttering, Maria Kondo style, and came across a Best Buy advertising insert from December 2003. Featured products were video games and consoles, music CDs (Radiohead or Limp Bizkit, anyone?) and of course, movie DVDs — all of which have now been replaced with Internet streaming. The ads featured portable, no-skip Walkman CD players and something revolutionary, an MP3 player. Record your holiday event with our state-of-the-art digital camcorder and catch up with friends and family on the go with a Nokia flip phone featuring a full-color display and 500 anytime minutes if you sign up now! For traditionalists (old fogies like me), there was a wide array of cordless phones with built-in answering machines available. The smartphone has rendered all of those products obsolete. Even more shocking, all appliances featured in the ads were white. Even as a self-proclaimed old fogie, I switched to stainless years ago. But I digress.
The speed and pace at which technology is evolving is faster than many can comprehend. We have evolved from smartphones to smart homes, where our home temperature, security and the roast in the oven can be remotely monitored. Photo albums have become a thing of the past, with pictures going digital. Moving away from the physical is becoming the norm. The biggest indicator of this is magazines. Many have either shut their doors or gone completely digital to stay profitable. Evolve or risk being left behind. Sears was once the Amazon of its day. My dad used to say, “If you can’t find it at Sears, you probably don’t need it anyway.” Fair enough. Sears sold everything from underwear to houses, which everyone needs at some point. The company that revolutionized ordering anything you could want or wish for via mail and phone is being brought down by a company that revolutionized ordering anything you want or wish for with just a few clicks.
Where does this evolution leave the banking industry? I recently called my bank to inquire about refinancing my home mortgage. While I was given the opportunity to apply online, I still had to provide all my financials in person to a loan officer. I was provided with a ream of paper disclosures and a promise that I would be called when my loan was out of underwriting. The mere application process was exhausting. A friend of mine referred me to a well-known bank that owns an online mortgage company that handled her refinance, and she likened the experience to getting a pedicure. I like pedicures, so I took her recommendation. I completed my application online, and in less than five minutes, through blockchain technology, all my and my husband’s banking information and employment and payment history were retrieved. The only item we had to scan in was a copy of our driver’s license for verification. I received a preliminary approval immediately and was able to e-sign all my disclosures. Call me impressed! This bank was not resting on its laurels. If they made a mortgage loan application process painless, they probably have the technological resources to be able to handle my personal accounts and future loans with just as much ease. My current bank, on the other hand, just started offering person-to-person payment (P2P). Evolving, but slowly.
Financial institutions, like retailers, magazine publishers, electronics companies and the music and movie industry are facing tough competition from technologically savvy companies that can provide all the products and services of a brick-and-mortar location, but at breakneck speed and with minimal inconvenience to the customer. As banking customers age out and a new generation of tech-savvy customers seek out their first bank account, will you be able to attract and wow them? Wipfli has the expertise to advise financial institutions on how they can evolve to meet new and changing customer needs in a new tech-savvy world.