Technology and Building Bank Culture

Technology and Building Bank Culture

By Mark Anderson

All businesses, regardless of industry, have a specific, identifiable corporate culture or identity. For many, this is developed over time through years of operation. And as the business grows, it develops individualized strategies to achieve success—whether that’s through sales, customer service, or adherence to compliance.

Once established however, the challenge then lies in successfully imparting the tenets of that corporate culture to employees as they are hired and trained.

What is driving the culture at your bank?  

As a group, financial institutions tend to differ from other businesses in their approach to corporate culture and employee engagement efforts.

Generally, banks have lagged behind their counterparts in other industries in establishing engaging corporate cultures that recruit and retain high-talent, quality workers. And, certain stigmas such as a reputation for being “boring” or “stale” have followed the banking industry nearly since its inception. This has only served to keep new entrants out of the market and drive them to other sectors.

This is clearly reflected in the median age of bankers today (~40 years old), something that is particularly frightening for an industry seeking new and creative ideas.

When it comes to the development of a company’s culture, marketing plays a pivotal role.

Whereas in the past, a CMO’s primary mission was to market their bank’s brand to its customers, they are now tasked with improving and defining the corporate culture in which that brand lives.

This is important because increasingly, consumers are eschewing companies they either do not trust or simply dislike based on their impression of the brand, no matter how well-executed the company’s marketing is. Cultivating positive brand equity begins with how a bank’s employees view and perform their job.

The highly-shared and publicized “Netflix Culture Deck” provides a window into why a company’s culture must be clearly expressed and defined. And why it must go beyond overused (though important) words such as honesty or integrity.

Employees should understand what a bank’s culture asks of them and how that plays into their daily efforts. Otherwise, they have no context for why those words or phrases are important to their financial institution and its respective efforts.

Building the right culture starts with effective leadership and a commitment to adhering to that culture across the executive team. From there, it’s necessary for bank leadership to ensure consistent communication of that culture to their employees.

But how can they accomplish this?

In order to buy in to a bank’s corporate culture, bank employees will need to be continually engaged with a bank’s brand. And over time, they’ll need to re-visit the educational materials that communicate the bank’s values.

This requires the use of tools that centralize information in an easy-to-access location for all employees, regardless of location—preferably, the very tools those employees utilize on a daily basis to do their job.

Reinforcing corporate culture as a daily routine.

For many banking employees, opening their web-based intranet is already an established part of their daily routine, the first work-related item they start their day with, and an optimal time for the bank to engage with them.

Web-based portals have emerged over the years as an essential way to provide critical information to employees. Technology however, has continued to evolve and now delivers even more options for bankers in a simpler, user-friendly manner:

  • Helping ensure that employees complete company-specific training courses
  • Providing employees with access to specific educational materials
  • Establishing discussion and bulletin boards designed to engage disparate branch employees

This is vital: technology also provides consistency across the organization.

Whether large or small, the success of a bank’s marketing department depends on employees’ ability to maintain consistent communications and themes when engaging customers. The work marketing puts into development of a bank’s culture can only be enhanced by employees who buy into its cultural values. Having a branded, web-based portal for employees helps them build a shared understanding of their company’s brand.

There is no shortage of suggested strategies for bankers as they work to establish a vibrant corporate culture. Where the difficulty lies is in encouraging employees to adopt that culture and actively engage with it. Understanding how to effectively store, exchange and centralize information can be the key.

Mark Anderson is CEO of Johnson City, Tenn.-based Banc Intranets, a leading provider of secure, web-based intranets and directors’ portals for financial institutions that centralize employee onboarding and training, streamlining day-to-day operations.