With Savings Banks on the Decline, Is it Time for a Shift in Customer Strategy?

“If you believe in community banking, how do you ensure that it’s preserved?”

Tim Jewell has spent his entire career in banking. Currently President and CEO of Eaton Federal Savings Bank and Chairman of Michigan Bankers Association, he is well-respected for his leadership and his experience.

And you couldn’t find a more proud supporter of community banking and its value to communities and customers.

Last year, while others in the area were enjoying a beautiful Michigan summer, Jewell was examining the latest statistics on bank consolidation, including the steeper decline that savings banks were experiencing, and knew it was time to speak even louder—and inspire further action—to ensure the future of community banking.

Source: FDIC Data

Source: FDIC Data

Source: FDIC Data

Source: FDIC Data

Savings Banks in Michigan declined from 30 to 8, a decrease of nearly 75%, in just 23 years.

“There are community banks that are thriving and there will continue to be community banks in the future,” said Jewell. “But the day of the sleepy, small-town bank that changes at a snail’s pace and barely grows has passed. To be a survivor, community banks will have to continue to evolve and will have to be managed better than ever before.”

Jewell has taken bold steps within his own organization to initiate the change and face the challenges needed to ensure that Eaton Federal Savings Bank is a viable institution for the future.

He shared his manifesto with others in the organization, and it’s clear that they mean business. Here are just a few of the declarations included:

  1. This business model to which we are largely wed will not be a path to ongoing success without change.

  2. We need to treasure the existing branch network for what it provides, but we must also identify and exploit opportunities beyond our existing customer base and brick and mortar in order to grow and thrive.

  3. We have to appeal to an audience that thinks differently than what we have gotten used to over the past 83 years.

  4. This isn’t just about updating our marketing…change needs to be implemented, down to our very core.

It’s exciting to see a bank have the courage to embark on such a significant challenge, and Galapagos is very proud to be working with Tim and his team on the start of their bank’s transformation. After working with FIs ranging from $200 million to $20 billion on building and implementing the most viable customer strategy for their particular institutions, we know that it takes both vision and tenacity to effect change.

Teri Ginther, the former COO of a $1.7 billion bank with whom we have worked in enhancing customer strategy, is now working with Galapagos as a senior consultant in our Customer Strategy practice. In an upcoming post, she will share more of her first-hand insights on the customer strategy journey. But what she will tell you, unequivocally, is that the right change matters.

“During the time I was responsible for driving customer strategy at a Midwest community bank, our customer commitment scores increased 11% and the average lifetime value of customer households increased 21%,” said Ginther. “Once we determined our customer strategy, we worked continually to optimize it. It wasn’t easy but the payoff is undeniable. I’m here to help others see that not only is it imperative to have a strategy for growth, but there is a manageable way to see yourself through what could be significant change.”

Interested in starting your own customer strategy conversation (or transformation) now? We want to hear from you! Reach out to Jeremy Kane to start the conversation.