Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Generational Retention - Relationships

In keeping with the theme of what community banks can do to preserve relationships as older depositors die off, my last post indicated there were three keys. This time, lets look at the first key - the Relationship Factor. If you want to keep banking relationships beyond the current generation, you must - well before a "transfer inducing" event occurs - establish solid relationships with heirs. This starts early in life . . . even during elementary school. Kids savings programs, and financial education, can serve to implant your brand into kids thinking. As kids grow older, work with mom and dad to make sure the kids feel that the bank is a trusted friend and adviser. We'll talk more about technology in a future post, but it is essential in staying connected to these youngsters if they leave home. Hosting events, or webinars, regarding estate planning, generational transfer, and asset management will strengthen your position as that trusted adviser, and make it easy for heirs to look to your bank for money management advice and services. That's the goal . . . when parents retire or pass away, you want to keep your relationships with the family money, the family business, the family farm. Building strong relationships is the key.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Generational Retention

Recently, the subject of the following blog post (repeated from February 2009) has struck a chord with some of my bank audiences. In the coming days, I will expound on each of the three key issues, but I felt it appropriate to include this general post as a reminder:
General Transfer is a key issue for most rural banks. One key challenge these banks have is relationship retention. If you've taken the first step (and some are frankly afraid to look) and found that many of the heirs to your current deposits are "somewhere else" then you realize the challenge. Two parallel tracks are necessary. First, address the heirs who are still local. Reach out, through parents if necessary, to form relationships and help these heirs learn that your bank can be a valuable tool for managing the assets that will be left to them, be they a business, land, or simply deposits. Second, put together a plan to reach out to absentee heirs with essentially the same message . . . we are here to help you manage your inheritance. Your plan for resident and non-resident heirs is comprised of three main parts: relationship (a face); services; and technology.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Supporting Your Small Businesses - Part II

This time, let's look at specific things a community can do to help existing small businesses thrive, and to attract new ones because of the positive climate you've created. It's essential that civic leaders understand just who the local businesses are, and what challenges these businesses face. In addition to the value of the information gathered, undertaking such a program will send a clear message that your community is pro-business. Depending on the size of your community, and what efforts are already underway, this can be a large or small effort. The key is this - create a database of all local businesses, identify the products or services they offer, what raw materials, if any, they require to work, as well as their infrastructure requirements. Meet directly with owners or local managers and ask specific questions . . . be sure to inquire about challenges, and take the time to listen and record their comments. A team made up of civic and business leaders should be at the forefront of this effort.

A word about coverage: be sure you take steps to identify all local businesses, don't just rely on storefronts . . . so that you cover rural, home based, or other non-traditional businesses.

Once you have completed the data gathering, compile and review the results . . . what synergies exist with other local businesses, for example? If you are in a region where other communities are doing the same thing . . . compare notes, and see if you can find regional suppliers, customers, or peers of your businesses. Be sure to address challenges, especially if there are common concerns across many businesses. Infrastructure is a common issue: transportation, broadband Internet, water, or natural gas.

Host networking meetings, make introductions, and watch businesses do better as a result of your efforts. Your businesses will feel like they are cared for, and your local economy should do better.

Please share your experiences with these projects as you undertake them.