Banking in the digital age means doing more with less

Posted On September 26, 2018

During the recession about a decade ago, many banks found themselves saddled with bad debt and forced to freeze their lending. This created an opportunity for new banks to gain a foothold – smaller, more nimble institutions with fewer branches and more flexibility.

One such institution was ServisFirst Bank, a Birmingham-based bank that’s now operating in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee. Our guests in this episode of “What’s Working with Cam Marston” are two of the leaders of ServisFirst’s operations in Mobile – Bibb Lamar, who serves as President and CEO for the region, and Alex Arendall, Senior Vice President of Commercial Banking – who share with us their thoughts on how the banking industry is evolving.

With today’s technology making it unnecessary to drive to a branch for most banking transactions, ServisFirst maintains only three locations in Mobile and Baldwin Counties here in south Alabama, with about 25 employees in the area. The emphasis, as with many companies seeking to increase efficiency, is on doing more with less.

This approach seems to mesh well with millennial demands for convenience, relying on digital solutions to reduce or eliminate the need to go to an actual branch. Even so, Lamar says banking is still a people business – even with less face time.

“Customers or clients want to be able to solve problems, but when they have a hiccup and they can’t solve it, they want an Alex or a Bibb or someone they can pick up the phone and call and say, ‘help me,’” he said. “I think that’s where we excel.”

As a lean operation, Lamar and Arendall say hiring the right employees is essential – and their ideal candidate must be able to handle more than one type of job. In addition to the requisite financial background, he or she must be a problem-solver and a salesperson. “Flexibility and coming in with an open mind are two talents we’re going to look for, because no two days are alike,” Arendall says.

Lamar and Arendall also discuss the need for financial literacy, the idea of loyalty in banking, the attributes that make a community attractive to a bank looking to enter a new market, what happens when you have fraudulent charges, and whether bank robberies are still a thing in the age of PayPal and Venmo.

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Financial Services, Podcast, Recession Economy, What's Working with Cam Marston