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Is PFM Really the Answer?

March 5, 2010 5 comments

While attending BarCampBankCharleston, I tweeted that “the jury is still out on bank benefits of offering PFM”.  The reason for this was because there aren’t a lot of numbers to back up the ROI of offering PFM.  I have heard that it can increase the retention for financial institutions.  But what is the current online usage for these FIs now?  Currently, 40% of our customers are actively using online banking.  I’ll let you marinate on that for a moment.

Ok.  Now, that wasn’t a typo.  We have 40% of our customers active on online banking.  70% of our customers have signed up for the service.  Heck, we haven’t even done a really hard push into mobile and we have 1% of our customers signed up after five months.  I think it took Bank of America a little over a year to get to that point in mobile banking customers.  Also, I believe 20% of FI customers actively using online banking is considered great.

So if we have 40% using online banking, what benefit would PFM bring us?  Personally, I think that the current online banking offerings suck when compared to PFM.  I’ve used Mint and Wesabe and seen demos for FinanceWorks, Jwaala and Yodlee.  Honestly, the experience on any of these is way better than what’s currently offered by online banking vendors.  Even Cisco’s Generation Y survey mentioned them wanting PFM type information offered by their banks.

But I’m not sold on adding PFM as another service.  What I really want is for my online banking to function more like a PFM.  The only things that are really missing from PFM are bill pay and transfers.  Digital Insight is in a unique position in that Intuit bought Mint.  I’m sure they’ll be phasing out FinanceWorks and switch everyone over to Mint.  But why not just turn Mint into their online banking system?

If I worked at a PFM vendor, this would be my biggest fear.  Customers want more financial advice and the social aspect that can be obtained from PFM.  FIs want the ability to easily market additional and new products.  Add in aggregating all your financial information, bill pay and internal/external transfers and you would have a killer online banking experience.

So now we know what the potential of online banking/PFM can be.  The question is, who’s going to step up and make it a reality for us first?

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BarCampBankCharleston: Recap

March 1, 2010 1 comment

Well, we finally pulled BarCampBankCharleston off.  Although there were only six of us in attendance, I believe everyone felt that the event was very rewarding.

Jared Smith (@jaredwsmith) from ReadWriteWeb kicked off the first session with a talk about social media.  Because it was mostly First Federal employees at the event, he geared his talk towards how we used social media.

Since we already have a Facebook page and twitter account (@firstfederal), he gave us some ideas about how we could use these sites for lead generation.  One example was using geo-targeting in advanced search on Twitter to target prospective customers.  Another was using Collecta for real-time search about any posts about our bank.

He seemed impressed with what we’re currently doing.  One thing he mentioned was not sending private information through social media.  He said that personally, he would feel very uncomfortable contacting his bank with confidential information through such a channel.

Next, Adrienne Cobbs, from First Federal, gave a presentation on business continuity plans.  Some things she talked about were recovery and resumption tasks for critical business processes, alternative facilities and establishing reliable communications with employees and customers.

She mentioned that continually testing your plan was critical.  A disaster is a poor time to find out that your offsite changed the tape backups and yours’ are no longer compatible or the phone system only has one working line.

Using social media was also brought up as a way to keep employees and customers informed.  For instance, if our website was down, we could post information on our Facebook page and use Yammer to get information to employees.  Keeping the media informed was also a key point.

Finally, Quintin Sykes (@bank_daddy) from Cornerstone Advisors spoke about trends in the banking industry.  One thing that stood out to me was the payments space.  Phone manufacturers seem to be holding off on NFC until the merchants have their systems in place.  But the merchants are waiting until customers have devices that can use NFC.  Classic chicken and egg scenario.  Also, there are many vendors but universal standards haven’t been set yet.

Another thing was the jury is still out on the benefits of PFM.  Although I’ve heard that it helps drive up retention rates, hard numbers haven’t been issued.  So if banks can’t quantify a ROI, they will be reluctant to jump into offering the product.  I plan to discuss my thoughts about this in a later post.

Overall, I think BarCampBank was a success and I look forward to helping organize another one next year.  We’ll really have to get the word out and let people know that collaboration is a good thing.  Just knowing about new tools and what the future for the industry holds is valuable stuff that we can all use.  I’d also like to thank our sponsors: ECPI College of Technology, ClairMail and Cornerstone Advisors. See you next year.

Let’s Get BarCampBanked

February 17, 2010 Leave a comment


In case you haven’t heard, a few co-workers, colleagues and I are organizing BarCampBankCharleston (BCBChs).  The event will be held on February 27th, 2010, at ECPI College of Technology in North Charleston.  If you’ve never heard of BarCampBank (BCB), it’s an ad-hoc conference where meeting topics are decided upon the day of the event.  Participation, not just observation is the key to making BCB work.

More information can be found on the event website and you can register here.

Also, BCBChs was featured in the Charlotte Observer, which gives a great background about BarCamps in general.

BCBChs is free, although we ask that you please register so that we will have a proper head count.  We looking forward to seeing you and swapping ideas.

BarCamp In Charleston

October 27, 2009 1 comment

This past weekend I attended the first BarCampCharleston.  I must say, this event was as fun and enlightening as I thought it would be.  Thanks to all that put the event together.  And special thanks to the Lowcountry Innovation Center for hosting the event.  If I ever do a startup, I’ll be looking there for space.

One thing I discovered was, it really sucks that you can’t be in two places at once.  While I enjoyed all the sessions I attended, I regret missing a couple of the other cool ones.  I think my high school drum skills would have helped me in the Rock Band Challenge. Also, there were a few times that  I thought, “what the @*&% are they talking about?”  I really need to do a lot of tech reading in my spare time.  Apparently, there is a lot I need to learn about Github and Amazon Web Services.

In another session, I finally got to see how @jaredwsmith does his weather tracking magic.  Who knew there were so many free tools to track weather?  Also, thanks goes to @bank_daddy for sending the Google Wave invite.  Now I feel like a hip techie.

BaconCamp, the last session I attended, was a bacon lover’s dream.  Ted, from Ted’s Butcher Block brought in a couple hundred samples of bacon.  Let me tell you, that stuff you get at your local grocery store does not compare.  I still have applewood bacon flashbacks.

Now that I’ve attended a BarCamp, I can really see the need for BarCampBank.  I don’t know if we can get 130+ attendees, but I’d sure like to try.  So what do you think, BarCampBankCharleston in February 2010?

Lessons Learned

October 27, 2008 8 comments

Well, BarCampBankCharleston is over.  Unfortunately, we didn’t get the expected turnout.  A couple of co-workers from First Federal, along with George Kelley, from ClairMail, were able to make the event.  I knew that attendance would be low because of traveling budgets being cut in the last few months.  The intense rain we had here at the end of the week didn’t help matters either.

Because there was only four of us, we pretty much talked about projects that our bank was looking at.  We also discussed some things that we heard other financial institutions were doing.  Recent bank closures was another topic discussed.  After a couple of hours, we decided to move our get together to Buffalo Wild Wings and partake in some wings and college football.

Although I was disappointed with the low turnout, I still think the BarCampBank concept is something we need.  Hopefully, I can participate in BarCampBankSF2 in April and really see how BarCampBank works.  Perhaps we’ll try this again in Charleston next year.  One thing that I know we need to do is get the word out sooner.  This way people can save the date and plan accordingly.

We also need to take a grass roots approach.  From what I’ve seen, not too many bankers in South Carolina know anything about BarCampBank.  Getting the word out to local bankers and explaining the concept will be better in the long run.  It’s not all about talking about using Twitter and Facebook in your bank.  Now, more than ever, we need to come together and help each other restore confidence in our industry.  Sharing ideas and collaborating is the best way to do that.

Hopefully, we can get a huge turnout the next go round.  Until then, see you at the next BarCampBank.

BarCampBankCharleston: Update

The date and location for BarCampBankCharleston have been set. The un-conference will be held at the First Federal Corporate Center in N Charleston on July 26, 2008 (9am-5pm) and July 27, 2008 (9am-1pm). The address is 2440 Mall Drive.

The location is about 10 minutes from the airport and there are about 10 or so hotels located nearby. For those that love to shop, the Tanger Outlet is in the area also. Historic Charleston is about 15 minutes away.

So go ahead and pen it in your calendar and we’ll see you at the end of July.

Putting The “Bank” Back In BarCampBank

April 18, 2008 3 comments

Ok, I admit it. I’m jealous of all the credit union people meeting and discussing cool ideas. I’m also saddened that no bankers have shown up at a BarCampBank. Well, that is about to change. After much contemplation, soul searching and meditation, I’ve decided to organize BarCampBankCharleston.

Well, actually, I just mentioned it to a couple of people and they said it would be a cool idea. So, I’d like to invite you all to beautiful, historic Charleston, SC. Right now, it looks like the event may happen in late July. So bring your families along for a fun weekend. Hopefully, this will be big enough that we have to spread it out over a Saturday and Sunday. If anyone would like to help with the planning and organization, please don’t hesitate to contact me.