What Bank Customers Want: BankThink launched a new series this week in which customers from different demographics describe what they are looking for from their financial services providers. Responses varied widely, as you might expect. Millennial Simon Zhen wished for faster bank person-to-person payments, while former Wall Streeter Katya Grishakova longed for a return to old-school banking. Baby Boomer Reginald Skowronski acknowledged the appeal of mobile banking, but still wanted exceptional transactions to start and end with a handshake. Dominique Hall, Janice Luo and Demetrius Phillips all students at Game Theory Academy, a financial literacy initiative based out of Oakland, Calif. requested good customer service, voluntary overdraft notifications and community outreach, respectively. "I believe community banks try to live up to these sentiments," one reader wrote in response to Phillips' call for banks to help educate consumers. "We can all do better." And "high-transaction, low-balance customer" Andrea Luquetta simply wanted a bank that wants her. "When I am ready to commit to paying many thousands of dollars financing a home, a car or my kid's education, I will offer my business first to those institutions that helped get me there," she wrote.
BankThink is leaving the series open-ended so that readers can hear from more demographics over time. If there is a particular consumer segment you would like to hear from, please let us know in the comments section below.
Mortgage Morass: Consultant Joe Garrett provided community bankers with some food for thought when he suggested it was time for some banks to get out of the mortgage market. "I cannot think of a single banker who was ever criticized for getting out of mortgage banking, but there are plenty who stayed in too long and lost their job and even lost their bank," he wrote. "You have articulated what many career mortgage banking professions have said in hushed tones to each other, but have been afraid to say to ownership and management," one reader agreed. But another commenter thought the issue required further analysis. "You laid out the problems like a pro, but what is the alternative?" he asked.
The Bank/Nonbank Divide: Two contributors argued for more-equitable regulatory treatment of banks and nonbanks. J. Patrick O'Shaughnessy, chief executive officer of payday lender Advance America, wrote that inconsistent regulation was a disservice to consumers since they have become accustomed to patronizing both traditional and alternative financial firms to meet their credit needs. "This regulatory approach favors some services and discriminates against others," he claimed. "As a result, current regulations impede rather than facilitate consumers' ability to comparison shop and make informed financial decisions. This creates a lopsided, less-competitive market, with winners and losers dictated by regulators rather than consumers." Meanwhile, Susanna K. Tisaof Treliant Risk Advisors warned that regulators' current course of "gotcha" enforcement and overly stringent rules for traditional banks was encouraging unsupervised shadow bankers to proliferate. "There are simply not enough regulators, examiners or hours in the day to chase down, eradicate or sanction all the abusive practices that can emerge in this exploding market," she argued.
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