Thurlow Describes Innovation Journey, Core Advocacy

In keynote remarks last night at the St. Louis Fed’s community banking research conference, bank CEO Julieann Thurlow outlined Massachusetts-based Reading Cooperative Bank’s innovation journey and how it improved financial inclusion in the communities it serves. She emphasized innovation beyond fintech; “the industry doesn’t just need fintech, we need financial innovation—which just might be in the form of technology,” she said.

For Reading Cooperative Bank, the innovation process included re-conceiving customer needs with a goal of meeting societal needs and reaching unserved customers. As one result, the bank will open a check-cashing business paired with a bank branch in Lawrence, Mass., now a gateway for Caribbean immigrants. The Lawrence branch will provide Spanish-language services and meet the needs of residents for lower-cost transaction services.

Thurlow also discussed ABA’s Core Platforms Committee, which she chairs and which was established earlier this year to identify actions that ABA and ABA member banks can take to improve bank relationships with core providers and foster innovation in the core provider space. She summarized the work done by the committee thus far, including productive face-to-face meetings with executives from the major core providers and outlined its next steps, including meetings with existing and emerging cores.

“The core relationship is a banks most important vendor relationships and can be where innovation is made possible for community banks,” Thurlow said. “The best outcome of this committee engagement would be to improve a core service relationship so that no banker would have to endure a conversion because they are so satisfied with their current provider relationship and would never want to take that risk.”