The Fear of Bankers Is Real

By Kathleen Craig

A question I get asked a lot is: Why are these new online and mobile fintechs ‘winning’?

Why are their adoption metrics sky-rocketing? How have some of them gone from new product to millions of users in just a few short years?

While there are many reasons—from great user interfaces to unique technology—fundamentally, I believe these online and mobile first tools are “winning” at gaining users because of anonymity. These online tools provide a way for consumers to get information and to self-qualify without embarrassment or intimidation.

Would you want to walk into a bank to find out you don’t qualify for a loan? In this age of all things digital, consumers value the ability to be anonymous online. And we need to recognize the resulting changes in consumer behavior. Current and prospective customers want opportunities to pre-qualify or educate themselves wherever possible. A bank’s ability to provide that may well mean the difference between gaining or losing customers.

When I’m speaking with bankers across the country, here are few topics that we discuss.

Saving is a growing struggle for most people.

Today, 57% of people have less than $1,000 in savings—and more than 1 in 3 have $0. If you are one of the many people struggling with your finances, a mortgage or any type of loan may seem out of your reach. Instead you may turn to high-interest credit cards simply because you can apply for these from the comfort and safety of your own home. Rocket Mortgage, Lending Club, Upstart, Prosper and so many others have tapped into this behavior and are allowing folks to qualify (or not) right from their mobile device.

With all of these options to self-serve, can you imagine the intimidation of walking into a bank and having to speak to someone, just to be told you do not qualify?

How as an industry can we allow pre-qualification on our websites in an easy and quick way, with financial education available in the same area?

How do you define wealth?

Does your bank have a Wealth Management group? If so, how do you define wealth? What does “wealth” mean to you and your customers or prospective customers? I bet if we asked a group of 10 people we would get about 10 different answers depending on their age, personal background, and current financial situation.

Is there a way to be clearer on your website with regard to what you are looking for in a customer? And most importantly, does your site communicate who you can help and how you do it?

Robinhood, Acorns, Betterment, Wealthfront and many other robo-advisors start folks investing with $0 to $500 minimums. There is no intimidation, no room for thoughts of what if I am not wealthy enough? And even better, they make everything they share consumable and easy to scan.

A fun fact that many folks do not realize.

The majority of people today prefer to consume digital content at an elementary- to middle-school reading level. This is not ignorance or a lack of education. It is simply that we are bombarded all day, every day, with content. We want bite-size content we can skim through.

How can we take our bank websites—which average from the high school to college reading levels—and simplify the content?

How can we focus on making it easy to consume? And most importantly, welcoming?

If you did not work for your bank, would you know if you qualify for a loan? Would you risk the embarrassment of doing it in person? Would you know what wealth is?

Let’s make it easier for folks to become our customers, by showing them we want them as customers and we are here to help.

Kathleen Craig is the Founder & CEO of HT Mobile Apps(HTMA). Kathleen has been in banking for over a decade, prior to founding her company she led consumer eServices leader at a community bank in Michigan. Kathleen’s specific focus in digital channel strategy gives her insight into the latest FinTech and banking trends. HTMA now serves community banks ranging from $30 million to over $15 billion in asset size over 16 states. Email: [email protected]. Twitter. LinkedIn.

Kathleen was a featured speaker at the ABA Bank Marketing Conference.