Voices of the industry

"A few years ago, if you asked a community bank executive what a portal was, they thought it was a good room on a ship. They don't think that anymore."

-Paul Pustarino, head of financial services at South Bend, IN-based Grant Thornton, commenting on how far community banks have come with their understanding of technology.

"You have a relationship with a spouse, not with a bank."

-Arkadi Kuhlmann, chairman and chief executive of ING Direct U.S., explaining his direct banking company's no-frills approach to customers. ING Direct U.S. operates without branches and does not offer checking accounts. The bank instead focuses on savings accounts with high interest rates and on low-interest loans.

"While it's a bit embarrassing to be out on the sidewalk in an old- time banker's suit, it is more embarrassing to see what the modern banking industry is doing to customer service."

-Joe Garrett, president and chief executive officer of Sequoia National Bank, a community bank with $32 million in assets. Dressed in a circa-1900's banker's outfit, Garrett recently courted potential bank customers while standing on a table in downtown San Francisco.

"We like to partner with companies and not just charge them a fee, so it's an ongoing relationship."

-Ed Sharpless, founder and chief executive officer of Sullivan Park, an e-commerce company based in Los Angeles. Sullivan Park is offering free software to banks in exchange for part of the fees generated.

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