Last week, we hosted our first conference, the Tradestreaming Money Conference. We had hundreds of top speakers and attendees from the largest financial institutions like Vanguard, US Bank, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, NY Life, and Fidelity a join us to talk about reigniting growth in our industry.
Those discussions took different forms. Some of our sessions talked about the state-of-the-art in marketing. What are current best practices to acquire and retain new customers? Other sessions focused on how to drive more innovation within large financial institutions and attract new top talent. All in, it was a great event to learn, network, and collaborate.
Ron Shevlin, Director of Research at Cornerstone Advisors was one of those speakers. An analyst’s analyst, Shevlin has been covering the financial services space for 25 years. One of the things I appreciate most about Ron is his no-nonsense delivery style. He frequently questions consensus thinking, going deeper and more honest into many of the hot-button issues our industry faces. He shares those views on his blog, Snarketing 2.0
Shevlin participated in a unique format session at our conference called Pardon the Interruption. Unscripted and unprepared, I threw various words and concepts at him, letting him riff off of them for a minute in front of our audience. The following recording joins that conversation part way through.
Below are highlights, edited for clarity, from the episode.
Chatbots are getting really overhyped in terms of what their current capabilities are and what they can deliver. That’s just a maturity issue. If I had a dollar for every credit union CEO who told me that his firm’s competitive advantage is its people, I could retire. It’s not really true. The promise of chatbots is a more consistent user experience with customers and prospects delivered via technology.
Community banks and credit unions
Many community banks are looking at the consumer market and are giving up on it. They think consumer banking is just about gathering deposits. These banks are going to face big trouble. In a low interest environment, consumer behavior around deposits has changed significantly. There is more than $1 billion deposited on to Starbucks Cards and I’ve heard numbers that it’s double that. That’s more money than most community banks have and that’s money that community banks can’t lend out.
Fintech partnerships are way overhyped. To develop and execute on partnerships requires a lot of time, effort and resources. The reality is that no matter how big a bank you are, you’re resource constrained when it comes to managing partnerships. My firm does a lot of strategic planning work with midsize banks and credit unions and they’re all thinking about these types of partnerships with fintech firms. There’s no way Jim over there in IT who’s also doing security and device management is going to handle a partnership. Or, they look to their core vendors, like FIS, Fiserv, and Jack Henry. They’re doing to do the partnership? The reality is that this is too resource dependent for most financial institutions.