Revamping deposit products at Zions required convincing employees first

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Zions Bancorp. in Salt Lake City took on a daunting challenge over the past year: consolidating more than 500 deposit products across half a dozen unique bank brands in the midst of a core conversion while keeping a diverse customer base happy.

Before it could be successful, Zions' executives knew they needed to persuade one very important constituency about the need for the changes — their own employees.

“We spent a lot of time educating our own employees on the value of these products to our customers, why it’s not going to be a problem for our customers to switch and how they’re competitive,” said Melisse Grey, director of enterprise retail banking strategy at the $66.1 billion-asset Zions.

That was just one step, albeit a crucial one, in the broader process of Zions’ core conversion, itself a massive undertaking. As if that wasn’t challenging enough, it came during a time of intense competition for deposits.

Grey said that Zions wanted to appeal to two distinct types of customers: young millennials, who are often on a budget and in search of easy, low-cost options, as well as established customers, who like to be rewarded for their savings and spending habits.

Often, the changes weren’t radical, she said. Most of Zions’ affiliate banks all had similar versions of the same product, so consolidation was frequently a matter of getting all six to agree on, say, the number of monthly transactions a customer would need to have a fee waived.

Yet the scale of the project and its importance to the core conversion make its story particularly timely as other bankers are thinking about how to better compete for deposits.

Some of Zions’ female executives were key architects of this undertaking — which is just one of the reasons the company once again earned a Top Team recognition as part of the Most Powerful Women in Banking program.

See the other 2018 Top Teams:

Ultimately, Zions whittled 529 different deposit products down to 133.

The revamped deposit products were first offered to new customers, and executives monitored feedback to make sure their offerings were truly competitive.

The new accounts are now being rolled out piecemeal to Zions’ legacy customer base. So far, the company has switched over business and consumer account holders in Arizona and expects to finish migrating all of its customers in 2019.

Zions is also using customer behavior analytics to figure out which new deposit products its legacy customers might like best, as opposed to moving all the customers in one account wholesale to its newer equivalent.

“We actually looked at the behavior of each of the customers and what they might prefer based on that behavior and mapped them to the product that really worked for them,” Grey said. “It wasn’t just an ‘A to B’ effort.”

Headquarters: Salt Lake City

Assets at June 30: $66.3 billion
Return on equity: 11.96%
Return on assets: 1.37%

Female representation among corporate officers: 51%
Female representation on operating committee: 21%

The team: Lori Chillingworth, Shannon Drage, Paula Fryland, Cory Gardiner, Sara Goudeseune, Melisse Grey, Debra Herman, Olga Hoff, Mary Holman, Stephanie Horne, Crystal Humphries, Dianne James, Carrie Johnson, Shelly Johnson, Jennifer Johnston, Vivian Lee, LeeAnne Linderman, Crystal Low, Marylyn Manis-Hassanein, Jan Mitrovich, Cheryl Mowry, Mary Murray, Shannon Petersen, Rebecca Robinson, Jennifer Smith, Chickako Tyler, Beth Whisamore, Heather White, Barbara Yastine

Zions also had Top Team wins in 2017 and 2016.

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